Grace Elaine Tait, 85, of Zellwood, Florida, passed peacefully in Orlando of cancer on July 8, 2020. Elaine was born of Swedish immigrants Elsie Johanson Mattson and Alfred Mattson on October 19, 1934, in Jersey City, New Jersey. After spending her early years in New York City, she and her mother moved to Miami, Florida. Elaine would live the remainder of her life in Florida except for living one year with her mother’s family in Scandinavia.
Elaine was a gifted and dedicated student, which culminated in her being offered a full scholarship at the University of Miami upon graduating from Miami High School. Unfortunately, she was not able to accept the offer because by that time she was on her own and felt she needed to support herself. She accepted a job at Eastern Airlines and continued to be active in her community. During her Miami years, Elaine was a majorette for her high school band, Miss Saint Lucia, Miss Coconut Grove, and represented Eastern Airlines in the Orange Bowl Parade. Elaine was also active in her local church where she met Malcom Tait. They were wed at the Immanuel Lutheran Church in 1956. It is in Miami, Elaine and Malcolm had their first two children, Kenneth and Wendy. In 1962, they moved to Orlando because of a job transfer. A year later they had their third child Lance. Malcolm remained in the restaurant business for most of their married years. In 1968, they opened Malcolm’s Hungry Bear, a buffet restaurant that became a popular Orlando landmark. Although Malcolm was a strong promoter with a bigger than life personality, it was Elaine’s natural business acumen that also contributed to the long-lasting success of the business. They were both active members of the community in Orlando during its formative years after Disney World opened: involved in the Salvation Army through donating food to the needy, supporting local and state politicians, and promoting Orlando sports.
Elaine supported Malcolm as he served as the matchmaker for local boxing events. In 1997, after over forty years of marriage, Malcolm passed away. Elaine remained unmarried until she wedded Fred Waddell twelve years later. They were married for nearly nine years until Fred died in 2018. Widowed again, Elaine continued to live a vibrant and active life. Always a lover of real estate, she continued to keep her realtor’s license active and enjoyed her time with her family. Her love for politics did not diminish; she continued to take notes of the President’s speeches in shorthand. Her youthful spirit and appearance always belied her age. She would repeatedly declare that she would live to be 95 even after struggling though chemo. She exemplified what it is to be a faithful wife, a loving and encouraging mother, a devoted friend, and a responsible citizen. Elaine is preceded by parents Elsie Mattson and Alfred Mattson; husbands Malcolm Tait and Fred Waldell. Survived by sons Kenneth (Donna) and Lance; daughter Wendy (David Herzig); and grandchildren Ryan Tait, Mark Tait, Crissey Tait, Jon Herzig, and James Herzig.