Jill Simone (Griffith) Taruscio was born June 21, 1946, in Morton, Washington, to Lew and Calverna Griffith. She is survived by her brother, fiBlake Griffith (Jocklyn), and her two daughters Randi Lydum (Matt Lydum) and Antia Accetta (Randy Accetta), stepsons Tim Taruscio (Lisa), Todd Taruscio (Gina), stepdaughter Antoinette Forseth and grandchildren Max Lydum, Hazel Lydum, Aric Accetta, Anabelle Accetta, Blake Taruscio, Jessica Johnson, Sarah Taruscio, Sawyer Forseth, MacLain Forseth, Claire Blewitt and Andrew Taruscio.
Jill grew up on the Griffith family farm in Randle, Washington. She attended Randle Elementary School, then White Pass High School. A member of several clubs, she was on the debate team, the cheerleading squad and played the clarinet in the high school band, all activities in which she excelled. As a cheerleader, she displayed her gymnastic prowess at basketball games home and away. After completing high school, she chose Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, then later transferred and graduated from Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington.
During college in 1965, Jill married Tony A. Riffe, who she had met when she was in the eighth grade and he in the ninth. She became a frequent part of the Glenn and Hazeldean Riffe family before she entered high school. While at CWU where Tony played baseball, they had Randi J. Riffe who was a week old when Tony became ill with a rare form of cancer when he was 21 years old. He survived for seven months. Jill’s life changed dramatically with the loss. It wasn’t her first loss. She had lost her nearly 3-year-old brother, Greg, who accidentally drowned. Jill fought through the difficult loss of her husband and committed herself to raising Randi along with help from the Griffith and Riffe families. At the same time, Jill pursued the completion of her college degree and accepted a teaching position at Randle Elementary School. Her courage, stamina, and dedication to her daughter were remarkable.
In 1973, Jill married Leonard Taruscio, and in 1975, they had Antia Simone. Jill was a dedicated mom, always encouraging and supporting any activity her kids wanted to pursue. They lived in Walla Walla, where she continued her teaching career first at Garrison Junior High, and then Sharpstein, Blue Ridge, Pioneer, Payne ALP and Edison. As a special education teacher, she believed all of her students could be successful in school and in life. Jill was active in the community and achieved a dream of opening a children’s store, Tyke Place Market, in Walla Walla. She was dedicated to her family, her profession, her business and her friends. In addition, Jill was an enthusiastic pet owner. Pets and wild animals were attracted to her and she to them.
Jill had an out-going, fun-loving, high-energy personality that resulted in her being a loving grandmother and devoted friend to many. She was always a willing playmate, ready for a game of basketball, a race, story-telling, make-believe or a tea party. She loved the outdoors and engaged in several recreational activities such as camping, kayaking, swimming, skiing and hiking. Jill was very creative and loved carving, painting, drawing, knitting and reading among other hobbies.
Jill loved people and pets throughout her life even while facing head-on the tough challenges that arose. She was a model human being for others as she persisted in confronting the devastating disease of Alzheimer’s. Her family and her friends were loved by Jill. She showed us all how to fight to survive. In good times and bad, Jill displayed many of the characteristics that we admire and to which we all aspire. Rest in peace sweet mom, granny and friend.
Jill lost her battle with Alzheimer’s disease on the evening of September 24, 2021. If so moved, please donate to an Alzheimer’s organization in the name of Jill Simone (Griffith) Taruscio. A virtual Celebration of Life for Jill will be held on Sunday, October 24, 2021 at 4 p.m.