Jerry Taft | Srivideo
Born/Date of Birth: March 14, 1943
Died: July 23, 2020 (aged 77)
Alma mater: University of Wisconsin–Madison
Spouse: Shana Taft
Education: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Jerry Taft (March 14, 1943 – July 23, 2020) was an American meteorologist who served as chief meteorologist for WLS-TV in Chicago. He worked in that role for 42 years.
Taft spent one year at Georgia Tech, before working as radar technician for the United States Air Force in Iowa. After studying at Wartburg College for one year, he got accepted into the Airman Education and Commissioning Program, which sent him to the University of Wisconsin–Madison. During his time there, he became a pilot and fought in the Vietnam War for a year. He eventually obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in meteorology from that institution in 1969. He revealed that he initially did not aspire to be a meteorologist on television. His interest in the area piqued during the time that he flew airplanes.
Taft worked at KMOL-TV (now WOAI-TV), the NBC affiliate in San Antonio, Texas, before moving to Chicago. He worked for 7 years at WMAQ-TV, Chicago's NBC affiliate then joined ABC 7 in August 1984.
Taft also performed radio work, providing weather reports for WMAQ-AM and WLS-AM in the 1980s.
The Chicago Tribune described Taft as "one of [their] favorite weathermen". He finished second to WBBM-TV's Steve Baskerville and ahead of Tom Skilling in a 1997 Chicago Sun-Times reader poll about Chicago meteorologists. Participants noted Taft's "no-nonsense delivery".
On December 20, 2017, ABC 7 Chicago announced that Taft would retire in January 2018. Taft's last day on air, after forecasting weather on Chicago television for 42 years, was Friday, January 19, 2018.
Taft was 19 when he married his high school sweetheart; they had their first child not long afterwards. Taft went on to marry Shana, to whom he remained married until his death. Together, they had two children (Skylar and Storm). He also had two other children (Danna and Jay).
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Taft moved to Naples, Florida after his retirement with ABC 7 Chicago and worked as a part-time Uber driver. He earned $84.61 on his first day.
Taft died on the night of July 23, 2020, at the age of 77.