A Mother to Many
When Arleen Taffel, 61, passed away on April 28 after valiantly battling ovarian cancer for 11 years, she left behind scores of children — many now grown — who remember her as kindergarten teacher “Mrs. Taffel,” an icon in the community. According to daughter Alison Taffel, Arleen was passionately dedicated to her profession and taught up to nearly her last day.
“She literally taught until she could not,” Alison said.
A teacher for 30 years at Mount Bethel Elementary, Arleen taught for 40 years and continued to educate herself to better help her students. “She went to conferences and was always up on technology making sure that kids were engaged,” Alison said. “In the ’70s she was really inspired by ‘Sesame Street’ — the idea that kids could have fun and learn at the same time.”
Alison said that since her mother’s passing, she and her family are constantly receiving letters and e-mails from parents and past students. “I can’t go into Target or Publix without someone from the community coming up to me” to give their condolences, Alison added. And as much as Arleen touched the lives of her students, “these kids fed life into her and gave her years,” Alison said, explaining that 11 years ago Arleen was diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer, “but beat the odds.
She did every experimental treatment and continued working every day, which I think kept her going.” Just one look at a tribute page on Facebook that Alison set up in honor of her mother is testament to Arleen’s influence. Within a couple of hours 200 people had joined the page, and as of May 6 it had nearly 500 members and hundreds of posts from friends, family, students and parents.
Alison said Arleen, a member of Congregation Etz Chaim, was very involved in Jewish leadership before having her own children, and served as president of B’nai B’rith Girls and ORT. Arleen, of Marietta, was born in Atlanta to Evelyn and the late Joe Gerson. She is survived by husband of 36 years, Marty Taffel; son, Myles Taffel of Chicago; daughter, Alison Taffel, of New York City; and mother, Evelyn Gerson; sisters and brothers-in-law, Shelley and Scott Kenith and Elaine and Bubba Pollock; and many nieces, nephews and cousins, all of Atlanta. She was preceded in death by her brother, Randy Gerson. Services were April 30 at Arlington Memorial Park in Sandy Springs with Rabbi Shalom Lewis officiating.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Ovarian Cancer Institute, 960 Johnson Ferry Road, Suite 130, Atlanta, Ga. 30342. Condolences may be expressed at www.edressler.com or the Celebrate the Life of Arleen Taffel Facebook Group.