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Thank you for the opportunity to share some of my memories of Jackie. When the Parenting Project was begun, I was delighted that Jackie Ward was chosen to be the prenatal educator for pregnant and parenting teens. I knew Jackie from my social and professional interactions in the community, and I knew that she was the perfect person for the job as the prenatal educator.
She had such a depth of knowledge from her years as a lay midwife and was able to provide prenatal information to young women in a way that could be easily understood. Jackie was always positive and upbeat, and had such a heart of caring and compassion for these young women.
She worked tirelessly to supply them with the knowledge and information they needed to have a safe and healthy pregnancy, and supported them emotionally as well as with her presence through difficult times.
The Jackie Ward Foundation is such a wonderful way to ensure her memory lives on.
What was the Parenting Project?
The Parenting Project (1989 - 1992) grew out of a community awareness of the need to address the problem of child and abuse and neglect. The monies came through the Children's Trust fund initially, and then was funded by other grant sources.
The purpose was to provide education and support for pregnant and parenting teens, but later extended that to anyone who might benefit from support/education during pregnancy and the first few years of life. Jackie provided the prenatal education/support to pregnant clients, and there was a parent educator who worked with the clients after delivery.
The Parents as Teachers model of early childhood education was adopted to provide parents with information about child development as well as to connect them with needed services in the community. We offered monthly support meetings (and provided transportation) so that the mothers would have a chance to meet other mothers with young children. After the grants ended, the project eventually became the Family Resource Center.
The first time I saw Jackie was, I believe, in the summer of 1976 or 1977. I was new to the area and was still reeling from culture shock. I was a tropical girl, born and raised in south Florida and in the Bahamas. My not so vast knowledge of life in the mountains of North Carolina came from reading the Foxfire books. I thought country music was sung by John Denver, Kenny Rogers and Elvis Presley, folk music was sung by Peter, Paul and Mary, Woody Guthrie or Bob Dylan, and "bluegrass" (what?) was not in my vocabulary.
Murphy, in those days, did not offer much in the way of entertainment, so when I heard that there was going to be a music event in the park, I was excited and decided to attend. The afternoon of the event arrived and I found myself sitting under a tent in a lawn chair, listening to banjo pickers and groups playing bluegrass and gospel music with which I was completely unfamiliar (and not particularly fond of, although I have since learned to appreciate), when a young couple, introduced as Andy and Jackie Ward, stepped up on the stage with just a guitar and prepared to sing. They looked quite different from the other performers. Both were wearing bib overalls. Jackie was petite, had lots of wild curly "big" hair and wore small wire-rimmed glasses. They looked like they could have performed at the Woodstock concert!
As Andy started playing the guitar and they began to sing different types of folk songs in perfect harmony, I realized that although I had no idea what kind of music I was listening to, I actually liked it! Never, on that warm summer day, could I have imagined how my life and Jackie's would become intertwined in the coming years. Her daughter, Christina, and my oldest son would attend elementary school together, I would teach her youngest son, Gregory, we would become co-workers at The Learning Center!, and volunteers with the Guardian ad Litem program, but, most of all, Jackie would become a very dear friend.
I'm Kathy, Jackie's big sister. Since I have lived all over as an Air Force wife, Jackie and I had not had many chances to know each other as adults. In fact, we'd just begun that process when Jackie's loving and giving life was cut short. So, my story is about the 7 or 8 year old girl Jackie. I was around 13 or 14.
We shared a bedroom. Jackie thought her secret candy stash under her bed was a secret from the family, but I knew about it. If I remember right, we kept the peace and 'our' secret, by occasionally pigging out on her stash together! And according to her kids, she always had a secret 'sweet stash.' Did she continue to share? What do you think? I miss you, kiddo, and continue to be oh so proud of you, your kids and grandkid.
From Jackie's big sis, Kathy Lentz
Kathy, first, thanks for sharing. I found myself laughing as I read your account of Jackie's secret stash. When she worked with The Learning Center many years ago at the old Ogden School Location, Jackie had a sweet stash! Sometime I will have to share a prank that Karen Brinke and I played on her regarding a rather large stash of Girl Scout cookies that she had purchased. Oh! How the memories come rolling back.
Thanks so much, Mary Jo Dyre
My heart and mind are filled with so many memories of Jackie. I still miss her.
I met her in 1976. She and Andy were living in a house (actually a shack) in Brasstown. I was at what was then called the Sale Barn in Murphy. She was selling some vegetables she had grown. Jackie had this wonderful warm smile and a contagious laugh that made you want to get to know her. We did spend many days and evenings together through the upcoming years delivering babies (mine, hers and many others), camping, traveling to midwifery workshops, listening to our husbands play music, and laughing a lot with our other girlfriends.
Two weeks before before she died she and I flew to Florida to visit Terry Campbell who was an integral part of our triangle of friendship. I remember that visit vividly... we talked about friendship and loyalty, love and how precious life is. There are still little things she's said to me that come back to remind me how truly special and rare a woman she is.
Thanks so much for sharing. I am hoping you can answer a question regarding Jackie's years in midwifery. Do you have any idea when she started and when this particular phase of her multi-faceted life came to an end? I can only attest that she was my midwife with the birth of my second child in 1979. When I think of the forward thinking that Jackie was a part of as we expectant mothers sought to gain access to having a voice in the birthing process, I remain impressed.
Mary Jo Dyre
Our very first invitation, after moving here in 1976, was to the home of Jackie and Andy Ward. Starting there we were introduced to the amazing mountain energy of folks who became our friends, community and life line.
I remember great times at the annual July 4th gatherings at the Ward home, where our kids beat the summer heat in the creek, heard great music, shared wonderful pot lucks and strengthened close bonds with dear friends. I also remember the Christmas Eve gatherings where Jackie would bake amazing quantities of delicious cookies and sweets, and Andy would read to the kids "The Night Before Christmas".
I also have other types of memories of Jackie. She was the midwife for both of my children, giving guidance, encouragement and the courage to give birth at home. I became aware of and involved with the GAL program through Jackie. And I became aware of how very fragile this life is, through sharing the births of my precious daughters with Jackie and through remembering the time and place we were when the news of her death came our way. Jackie is remembered with much love because she shared her love with all she touched.
Jackie Ward inspired me to go to college.
I met Jackie in 1973 in Denver. She told me the two words that changed my life forever: financial aid. I wrote about it in a graphic novel, The Amazing True Story of a Teenage Single Mom, which was first published in 1998 and I was able to tell how Jackie inspired me on the Today Show, on Tom Brokow and the Nightly News and on CNN Entertainment Today, not to mention a zillion other media.
It has just been re-released as a paperback by Graymalkin Press. It tells the story of how Jackie helped me go to Metropolitan State College. We lived together at the Sunshine House and I introduced her to her husband, Andy Ward.
I hope you can order this book for your local library and read all about Jackie!
My memories of Jackie Ward are full of memories of the times in the early 70s when young folks arrived to live in our beautiful mountains of WNC.
Jackie was involved with community projects for young mothers, children and families. As Director of Special Programs for Cherokee County Schools I was initiating programs for children with special needs for all the county schools. We had the first Preschool Handicapped Program for our county. I also supervised county programs that supported young families.
One program was the Parenting Project headed by Sheryl Young who hired Jackie Ward to be a Parenting Educator. Jackie Ward was so supportive and caring. Her warmth was evident in daily conversations, in her musical concerts with husband, Andy, at their annual July 4th celebrations, and most of all in her support of children and families in our community.
It is so special to remember these special times with Jackie Ward when young folks were making our communities strong and alive for families. Jackie would love to know that the academics and arts are being supported. Her dreams will live on through this Jackie Ward Foundation.
May the circle be unbroken... Jackie and I raised our 2 Jason's together... they still remain best friends today at age 45. Her death was a great loss to our community of friends... and I know she would be proud of her 3 children. She is missed...hopefully we all will meet again.
Jackie was my first cousin. She was a quiet, thoughtful child and a force of goodness as she grew older. I am so proud of all she did for her community. She loved her children deeply and completely. She accomplished more in her short life than most of us do with the long years we are given. Thank you for honoring her in such a beautiful way.
I remember Jackie as a friend and a fellow worker in the cause to help women, children, and families. In the 1970's and 1980' in this little mountain area, if we worked for these causes, we knew each other well. Our lives intertwined.
I remember 4th of July parties at Jackie's house and I remember buying lunch at her burrito booth every year at Fall Festival at the Folk School, and I remember us being pregnant around the same time. Jackie and I were in and out of the REACH office more days than not. In those days, REACH sponsored or housed every start up project imaginable. We were hard working, dedicated, fast paced women who left no stone unturned to help.
But my magical memory of Jackie is of an ordinary moment between the serious issues. With her curls bouncing, her smile bright as the sun, balancing papers in one hand and tea in another, she said, "my husband got to the blueberries I picked and took them to town, so I have none to sell today." And we laughed, shared a human moment, then returned to our duties. It's the connection I remember. We were homesteading, growing our own food, working our own cottage industries and investing in low paying jobs to help people in the most loving, grass-roots ways we could find. I felt normal around Jackie, and that is a very special memory.
I have so many wonderful memories...the first time I met Jackie was at her and Andy's 4th of July party. I'll never forget her inviting me to come inside the house so I didn't have to use the outhouse. She accepted me into her life that first day.
Some of my favorite memories are of our Atlanta shopping trips. Sometimes it was for the day and sometimes it would be for a weekend. She could not pass up a fragrance counter without trying several different scents. We would have to roll the car windows down on the way home because of all the perfume.
Jackie was the first friend I ever had that I knew I could count on. She was always there for me and she is the person I could trust without fear of judgement or gossip. Jackie had many best friends and I'm blessed that she was mine for almost seventeen years. I love her and miss her dearly.
I met Jackie and Andy in 1979 when I moved here from Florida. There are so many memories over the years. Intimate conversations over coffee, shopping trips to Atlanta, dinners and of course the social gatherings.
I worked with she and Meg as a birthing attendant so witness her demonstrate her kindness and patience as well as her skill. Jackie was an incredible friend, mother, wife and mid-wife. She did not do anything half-heartedly. Very passionate about her beliefs and walked her talk. I am proud to have been her friend and miss her every day!
As the Bread song “Everything I Own” says, "You sheltered me from harm; you kept me warm, kept me warm. You gave my life to me, set me free, set me free."
Mom, the finest years I ever knew were the years I had with you. And I’d give anything I own; I’d give up my life, my heart, my home, just to have you back again… I would give any moment in time to spend with you. Instead I will take pride in what your name brings to our small community that you loved and cherished. Thank you Jacqueline Marie Smith Ward for giving me and my brothers what you did. Your grace, love, compassion, they truly live on.
I could ramble on forever about mom and Jackie stories, but the real story is the children that she is still helping to this day. The fact that my mom is honored through the growth of young children that she would have loved and cherished every day, makes my heart grow. My mom truly enjoyed being a mother, a friend and a confidant to this community. I remember one of our last conversations. Her heart was so sad that one of her work adventures was coming to an end, but she knew God had a bigger and better plan for her…Little did we know it would be to live on hopefully forever in the eyes and hearts of small children getting a chance to follow their hearts and dreams like my mother did.
I was so very excited to see that a foundation was started in Jackie's name, it brought tears to my eyes. I was one of Jackie's girls that she worked with through the Parenting Project. She helped me through two teenage pregnancies, the last of which was the birth of my son who was born a few days after her death. She didn't get to see him, or hold him, but she had spent lots of time feeling him kick around in my tummy. I found out she had passed on my birthday, August 4 and I was so upset it sent me into labor early. I named my son after her, Dylan J Colt Cornwell. He is now 16, and tonight I talked with my son about the J in his name, and I wanted him to know who he was named after, so I did a search online and found the pictures of her and the foundation He saw her for the first time. I told him that he was named after an angel, because that is what she was, for so very many of us. I just wanted to share this with you, and let you know how much it means to me that a foundation was started, and that she is remembered. She was a dear and wonderful person and I miss her just as much today as I did the day I found out that she had passed. Thank you so very much. She was truly loved and now my son can see a small bit of the person that she was, but he knows now how much she did for our little home town. God Bless you and I
pray that the foundation reaches the hearts of many.
Angie Cornwall Bates
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Honoring the Life & Legacy of Jackie Ward
Jackie was an advocate for the education of children and families in our community and an inspiration to all she touched. Tragically, her life was cut short far too soon. This foundation has the privilege and responsibility of keeping a small portion of Jackie's dreams and vision alive. All who contribute hold the key to assuring that Jackie's voice continues to offer wisdom and guidance to our Community of Learners.
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Jacqueline Marie Ward
(1950 - 1997)
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