Tara Felice Mahone, a court designated worker in Christian County, was almost finished with her studies in criminal justice and hoped to receive her master’s degree in May. She had already earned a master’s in social work.
But now Mahone’s professional achievements will be recognized with a posthumous induction into the Kentucky Department of Family and Juvenile Services’ Hall of Fame.
Mahone died Jan. 15 of COVID-19 at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. She was 48 years old, the youngest of Hopkinsville City Councilwoman Patricia Waddell-Bell’s five children.
“I was so proud of her,” Waddell-Bell said Monday evening in a telephone interview.
Gov. Andy Beshear memorialized Mahone in his coronavirus briefing Monday afternoon, sharing her story with people across Kentucky. Mahone is one of 3,460 Kentuckians who have died from coronavirus since the pandemic began.
“She was full of energy and had a smile that made you feel at ease. She exemplified service above self, especially for those in need. Her passion was to mentor the youth of her community,” Beshear said. “Her husband, Keith Mahone, said he was proud of all the work Tara had done ministering to youth and families. He said he was at peace knowing she was going to heaven and he will see her again.”
Mahone and her husband were both in their Hopkinsville home trying to recover from COVID-19 when her condition worsened the weekend of Jan. 9, said her mother.
“She had to call her own ambulance,” Waddell-Bell said.
Two days after Mahone was admitted to Jennie Stuart Medical Center, she was transferred to Vanderbilt. She died five days later.
“She did everything she could to prevent getting COVID,” Waddell-Bell said. “The coronavirus is nothing to fool with, and you’ve got to take it serious.”
Mahone worked with juveniles who had cases in local courts, and she was able to do most of her meetings remotely, but occasionally she had to leave her home for work, said her mother.
Waddell-Bell said she’s lost her best friend.
For years, Waddell-Bell said she planned to have four children. No more. Then, on Sept. 16, 1972, Tara was born.
“God blessed me with a fifth child. She was my miracle baby,” she said.
While she was at Vanderbilt, numerous family members joined in a large Zoom session with Mahone. They talked to Mahone and prayed for her.
Waddell-Bell said her daughter had always been a “fighter,” and she thought she would pull through. But a doctor at Vanderbilt said there was nothing more they could do for her after she coded shortly after being hospitalized.
Mahone’s husband is still ill with COVID-19 and trying to recover at home, said Waddell-Bell. One of the couple’s three grown sons also contracted the virus.
Mahone was a member of Cedar Grove Baptist Church, where she served in several roles, including Sunday school teacher and assistant youth director.
In her obituary, the family wrote, “She loved her church and her church family dearly.”
The family will have a walk-through visitation from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Gamble Funeral Home. A small family service will follow, and burial will be at Kentucky Veterans Cemetery-West. Mahone’s husband is a veteran.