Juanita Taggart

January 19, 2022


Juanita Thomasina Taggart (nee Kaplan) “Niecey” was born in Philadelphia, PA, where she was one of twelve children (Brothers: Robert Jr., Albert, Gerald, Arnold, Martin, Irwin Joseph – Sisters: Naomi, Marsha, Irva and Andrea) born to Lucille Jean (nee Benson) and Robert Kaplan.  She eventually moved to New Jersey, where she became the matriarch to her very own family, as a mother to Kathleen, William Jr. (Billy Boy), Jean, Marcia, Gary and Larry, and second mother to her brother Robert’s son Troy Kaplan who she raised as her very own.  She was a loving grandmother to nine grandchildren: Mario Brown Jr., Rajon Brown, Quinay Taggart, Sierra Abad, Nicolas Rovetto,  Justin Taggart, Michael Rovetto, Malia Wilson and Gianna Taggart; and great grandmother to two, Mariyah Sarabando and Liam Brown. She was also a mother-in-law to Edward Rovetto and Senya Taggart (Rodriguez).

Juanita was a spit fire! She took no crap and she handled her business.  She never held her flame and said whatever she wanted to say.  Her children nicknamed her “The Dragon Lady” and rightfully so because she made sure we were all in line and if we ever fell off track she told us to get right back up and try again.  She raised all of us to be survivors. To work for what we want and to never stop believing in our dreams.  We have faith because of her and we respect our elders.  There was always food in her house, her bills were paid, and she always had a warm place for you to lay your head to get away from the rest of the world.  She continued her legacy by raising not only her own children, but also raised nieces, nephews, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.  Anything you needed Juanita had your back.  She was there for you no matter what.  Even if she wasn’t having her best day, she’d call you just to make sure you’re ok.

She worked as a Supervisor for Central Services in Newark, NJ for many years then later retired in 2011 from the Irvington Police Department after serving 25 years as a School Traffic Guard.  She held side gigs at Costco, Boston Market, and had a paper route where her grandchildren share memories tagging along.  Her dedication to her work is what she passed down through generations and generations to come.

Through the years, she loved playing her slots in Atlantic City.  That was her go to place to get away where she knew she could relax and enjoy herself.  She was an integral part of creating traditions for our family.  One of them being summer days in Wildwood, NJ During her most recent Wildwood summers, you could find her on her hotel balcony, overlooking the pool where three generations of her family were enjoying a tradition she helped create.

For the holidays it was her cooking we all looked forward to and we knew just what was going to be on the menu.  Thanksgiving was her favorite.  Macaroni and cheese, collard greens, green beans, candied yams, stuffing, rice and beans, potato salad, ham and don’t forget the turkey.  So many special family traditions will remain in our family because of her.  We always say grace before eating and before leaving the house, we cut our hair according to the moon cycle, we never split poles, we don’t put shoes or hats on the table, we wash our hands when coming in the house, we make sure all clothes are clean before the New Year and we have a male walk in our house first at midnight.

The wisdom she shared and the light she shed on our lives will live forever in our hearts.  Her legacy will live on and today we celebrate her life because it was beautiful indeed.

To send flowers to Juanita's family, please visit our floral store.


January 23, 2022

12:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Higgins and Bonner Echo Lake Funeral Home
582 Springfield Ave.
Westfield, NJ 07090

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