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Posted: 3:48 p.m. Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Lydia Roston Taggart, 47: Wife of Atlanta Life financial chief

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Lydia Roston Taggart, 47: Wife of Atlanta Life financial chief photo
Lydia Taggart, wife of Atlanta Life chief executive William “Bill” Taggart.

By Michelle E. Shaw

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Before Candy Harper introduced William “Bill” Taggart to her friend and sorority sister, she needed her Harvard Business School colleague to be clear about something.

“I told him, ‘This isn’t the woman you play with. This is the woman you marry’” Harper recalled Wednesday. “The next thing I knew, I saw them together at the Harvard-Yale game!”

Before too many years passed, the former Lydia Roston and Taggart were married in Atlanta and rode down Peachtree Street in a horse-drawn carriage to commemorate the occasion. Fast forward 13 years to 2011 and the Taggart family, which by then included a daughter, was making plans to pack up their Charlotte, N.C., home and move back to Atlanta.

Bill Taggart was the new chief executive and president at Atlanta Life Financial Group and Lydia Taggart couldn’t have been more excited. In Atlanta she had friends and family, plus she had lived here before.

“I was excited for her,” Harper said. “And I was glad to have my girlfriend close by. There’s nothing like having a good girlfriend right here in town.”

In a matter of weeks however, the Taggarts’ lives would be tuned upside down. Lydia Taggart received a diagnosis of appendiceal cancer.

“We found out two weeks after I started the job at Atlanta Life Financial Group,” Bill Taggart said. “So then we had a decision to make. Do we stay in Charlotte and fight this battle? Or do we come to Atlanta and fight? She said we should come to Atlanta.”

Taggart said deciding to make the move was “a blessing, because we ended up with this amazing support system as we fought this battle.”

Lydia Rose Roston Taggart, of Atlanta, died June 18 from complications of cancer. She was 47.

A memorial service is planned for 2 p.m. on Saturday at Saint Philip A.M.E. Church, Atlanta. Gregory B. Levett & Sons Funeral Home, South DeKalb Chapel, arranged the cremation.

In the almost two years that Taggart live in Atlanta, she got involved in as many civic and political activities as she could, her husband said. A former pharmaceutical representative, Taggart earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Florida A&M University.

A native of Long Island, N.Y., she also worked in sales for UPS before becoming a full-time wife and mother. An active member of Jack and Jill of America, Inc., and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., while in Charlotte, Taggart was looking forward to making connections with people she’d met in Charlotte and Atlanta, her husband said.

Harper said she knows her friend would have been an asset to any organization or cause she chose to support.

“She was light,” Harper said. “She was a strikingly beautiful woman with a mega-watt smile. Wherever there was darkness and she came in, there would be light.”

In addition to her husband, Taggart is survived by her daughter, Elizabeth Fortune Taggart; father, James E. Roston Sr. of New York, N.Y.; sister, Rachel Zeigler of Lithonia; and brother, William L. Roston of Carey, N.C.

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