Robert Taft Jr.

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Robert Taft Jr.
United States Senator
from Ohio
In office
January 3, 1971 – December 28, 1976
Preceded byStephen M. Young
Succeeded byHoward Metzenbaum
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 1st district
In office
January 3, 1967 – January 3, 1971
Preceded byJohn J. Gilligan
Succeeded byWilliam J. Keating
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's at-large district
In office
January 3, 1963 – January 3, 1965
Preceded byseat established
Succeeded byRobert E. Sweeney
Member of the Ohio House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Robert Alphonso Taft Jr.

(1917-02-26)February 26, 1917
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
DiedDecember 7, 1993(1993-12-07) (aged 76)
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Blanca Duncan Noel
(m. 1939; died 1968)

Katherine Longworth Whittaker
(m. 1969; div. 1978)

Joan McKelvy
(m. 1982)
Children4, including Robert III
Parent(s)Robert A. Taft
Martha Wheaton Bowers
Alma materYale University (BA)
Harvard Law School (LLB)

Robert Alphonso Taft Jr. (February 26, 1917 – December 7, 1993) was an American politician. He was a member of the Taft political family who served as a Republican Congressman from Ohio between 1963 and 1965, as well as between 1967 and 1971. He also served as a U.S. Senator between 1971 and 1976.

Early life[edit]

Taft Jr. was born in Cincinnati, Ohio,[1] on February 26, 1917, the second of four sons born to Robert Alphonso Taft Sr. and the former Martha Wheaton Bowers.[2] Unlike his father, he did not have a middle name, although he sometimes used the same middle initial.[3][4] Robert Jr.'s paternal grandparents were President William Howard Taft and First Lady Helen Louise "Nellie" Herron while his maternal grandparents were Lloyd Wheaton Bowers (Solicitor General of the United States from 1909–1910)[5]: 127  and Louisa Bennett Wilson. His older brother was William Howard Taft III, who served as Ambassador to Ireland from 1953 to 1957,[6] while his younger brothers were Lloyd Bowers Taft,[7] who worked as an investment banker in Cincinnati,[8] and Horace Dwight Taft, who became a professor of physics and dean at Yale.[9] Taft graduated from Yale University in 1939 and Harvard Law School in 1942.[1]


During World War II, Taft served as an officer in the United States Navy from 1942 to 1946. After law school, Taft joined the Cincinnati law firm, Taft, Stettinius, and Hollister, which had been founded by his father. Taft served in the Ohio House of Representatives from 1955 to 1962 until winning election to the United States House of Representatives. Taft won election to the United States House of Representatives in 1962 as an at-large representative from Ohio (at-large seats were barred by the Voting Rights Act).[10]

In 1955 he became a compatriot of the Sons of the American Revolution.

In 1964, rather than running for re-election to the House, he ran for the U.S. Senate, but he lost to Stephen M. Young. In 1966, Taft returned to the House of Representatives, unseating Democratic incumbent (and future Governor of Ohio) John J. Gilligan. In 1968, Taft won re-election, defeating Democrat Carl F. Heiser. Taft then won Young's U.S. Senate seat six years after losing to him when Young did not run for re-election, running against Howard Metzenbaum. Taft, however, lost six years later in a rematch against Metzenbaum. He resigned six days before the end of his term to resume the practice of law.[10]

Personal life[edit]

In 1939, Robert Jr. married Blanca Duncan Noel (1917-1968), daughter of Lewis W. Noel and Natalie Duncan. They were the parents of:[10]

After Blanca's death, Robert Jr. remarried to Katherine Longworth Whittaker, widow of his distant cousin David Gibson Taft. They divorced in 1977 and in October 1978, he married the former Joan McKelvy, also of Cincinnati.[12]

On November 29, 1993, Taft suffered a stroke and fell into a coma. He never woke from the coma and died on December 7, 1993.[10] Joan died on January 16, 2015.[12]


  1. ^ a b Pearson, Richard (December 8, 1993). "Robert Taft Jr. dies". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  2. ^ "Myrootsplace". Archived from the original on June 15, 2013.
  3. ^ "Robert A. Taft Jr., who did not have a middle name, was often called "Young Bob" to distinguish him from his father." Robert Taft Jr., 76, an Ex-Senator And Heir to Ohio G.O.P. Dynasty, The New York Times, December 8, 1993.
  4. ^ "The new congressman-at-large from Ohio has a one-sheet biographical record, terse and incisive. At the bottom it says: "Note: Mr. Taft does not have a middle name. Robert Taft, Jr., is correct." "FAMOUS FAMILY'S 4TH MAN IN CAPITAL". Detroit Free Press. January 24, 1963. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  5. ^ Fraternity, Psi Upsilon (1917). The twelfth general catalogue of the Psi Upsilon Fraternity. Retrieved March 24, 2011.
  6. ^ "W. H. Taft 3d, 75, Ex-Envoy to Ireland And Son of Senator". The New York Times. February 26, 1991. Retrieved August 8, 2016.
  7. ^ "Myrootsplace". Archived from the original on June 15, 2013.
  8. ^ "Lloyd B. Taft Obituary". The New York Times. October 23, 1985. Retrieved April 25, 2012.
  9. ^ Adair, Robert K.; Sandweiss, Jack; Pless, Irwin A. (August 1983). "Obituary: Horace Dwight Taft". Physics Today. 36 (8): 77. doi:10.1063/1.2915814.
  10. ^ a b c d Lyons, Richard D. (December 8, 1993). "Robert Taft Jr., 76, an Ex-Senator And Heir to Ohio G.O.P. Dynasty". The New York Times. Retrieved August 8, 2016.
  11. ^ "Ohio Third Frontier creates $6.6 billion in economic impact, 41,300 jobs" Archived January 28, 2013, at, Med City News, Retrieved September 21, 2009.
  12. ^ a b "Joan Taft". Chicago Tribune. January 18, 2015. Retrieved August 18, 2015.

Other sources