ASHTABULA — Jacqueline Marie (Washburn) Hillyer, the daughter of David and Peggy Washburn, was born on Feb. 19, 1943, in Los Angeles, Calif. She died on Saturday, August 17, 2013, in Johannesburg, South Africa, from complications due to pneumonia. Jackie left indelible and meaningful footprints during the 70 years she walked this earth.
In her early childhood years living in Hollywood, Calif., Jackie modeled children’s clothing and had the opportunity to audition before legendary movie director Cecile B. DeMille. Her family moved to Fort Worth, Texas for a period of time before Peggy and Jackie relocated to Peggy’s hometown, Jefferson, Ohio.
Jackie graduated in 1961 from Jefferson High School. Her college studies at Kent State University were temporarily interrupted when she and her husband, Dave, had a son in 1964 and a daughter in 1966. Jackie completed her studies and earned her Bachelors degree in English in 1968. Immediately thereafter, she became a teacher at Braden Junior High School and later at Edgewood Senior High School. Here began her resolve to improve the educational system and ensure the full participation of all students in school athletics, without regard to gender.
Jackie led and won fierce early battles in the quest for equality for girls in school sport. She knew full well that team sports build not only confidence in young people, but critical character attributes, such as leadership, collaboration, and fairness, which form the foundation for successful careers and relationships. The passage of Title IX allowed Jackie to wield legal grounds and demand full access for girls to participate in school athletics. She received several honors over the years for her efforts, including admission into the Ohio High School Fast-Pitch Softball Coaches’ Hall of Fame and receipt of the Keeper of the Flame Award. All of the recognitions, trophies and plaques pale in comparison to the sincere gratitude expressed by those students (and their parents) who would have been denied the right to participate had Jackie not led the charge. Jackie also tended to her own further education, having attended graduate courses at Harvard University, Texas A&M and other universities before earning a Masters Degree in Psychology from the University of Akron in 1989. She earned a second Masters Degree in Political Science and Applied Politics in 1994 from the University of Akron.