Friday, May 25, 2018
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Owner of salon was classically trained singer

Muriel J. Taite, 74, a licensed practical nurse for 25 years who in retirement became a cosmetologist and had her own salon for another 18 years, died Saturday in Toledo Hospital.

Her daughter, Leslie Poellnitz, said that Mrs. Taite suffered a brain hemorrhage after a fall in her West Toledo home.

Business associates knew Mrs. Taite as Muriel. Friends called her by her middle name, Joanne, but she was "Jobie" to those especially close, her daughter said.

Mrs. Taite studied nursing at the University of Toledo and the former Mercy Hospital. She became a licensed practical nurse at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center in the mid 1950s, working in units throughout the hospital, often on the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift.

She was also a private duty nurse and cared for people in their homes. In earlier years, Mrs. Taite cared for her maternal grandmother, who was also her adoptive mother. Later, she cared for elderly aunts who became ill.

"She always was concerned about how people felt," her daughter said. "She wanted to make sure people were comfortable. I think that's where the private duty [nursing] came in, because you're one-on-one with the person."

Mrs. Taite retired from nursing in 1981. She then attended a local beauty college. An aunt had long urged her to pursue cosmetology. After receiving her license, Mrs. Taite took over a shop on Bancroft Street, renaming it M.J. Taite's House of Distinctive Hair Design.

Her new profession was another way to help people, her daughter said.

"You're making people look pretty all the time, and she enjoyed that," her daughter said. "She had the support of my dad, and they bought the building. A lot of people encouraged her."

She also did substitute teaching in the Toledo Public Schools.

Mrs. Taite, a Toledo native, received her high school diploma from the Mary Potter Academy in Oxford, N.C. She returned to Toledo for her professional and family life.

She was a talented soprano who received classical training in New York City, her daughter said. In her teens, she auditioned on the opera stage in New York City, but "because she was black, she was not accepted, even though her voice was clearly better," her daughter said.

Mrs. Taite traveled to Washington, Pennsylvania, and New York as a member of the Sunlight Gospel Singers. In Toledo, she sang in her church - Mount Pilgrim Baptist - and performed at weddings, funerals, and other functions. More recently, she was a member of Rhema Word Baptist Church.

She sang gospel songs and popular tunes to suit the occasion.

"It made people happy. It made people cry. Just the whole gamut," her daughter said. Mrs. Taite sang a tribute at her daughter's wedding, and "there wasn't a dry eye in the house," her daughter recalled.

In the 1970s, Mrs. Taite was a director of the Miss Ohio Black Galaxy pageant.

Mrs. Taite's husband of 42 years, Robert, died Sept. 23, 1992. Her son Robert, Jr., died in 1975, and son Kevin died in 1999.

Surviving are her daughter, Leslie Poellnitz; brother, William Moseley; and two granddaughters.

Visitation will begin at 4:30 p.m. today in the Dale-Riggs Funeral Home, with wake services from 6:30 to 8:30 tonight in the mortuary. Funeral services will begin at 10 a.m. tomorrow in Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church.

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