The first African American elected to the Legislature, Senator Jackie Winters has died at the age of 82 on Wednesday after a hard battle with cancer.
What We Know:
- Born April 15-1937 in Topeka, Kansas, Winters graduated at Oregon State University with her master’s degree, she began her governmental service in 1959. Post-graduation in 1997, Winters helped create the Oregon Food Share Program in which continues today to the neediest families in Oregon.
- In 1998 she became the first African American Republican to serve in the Oregon Legislative Assembly and was elected to the Senate in 2002, according to MSN.
- Winters battled lung cancer since 2017. Her last participation as a senate was on April 18-2019. She wrote a statement on April 23 stating that her cancer “is currently in remission, and I continue to have a proactive treatment to keep it that way. I am having side effects from the treatment and I am being treated for those side effects.”
- When her death was announced on Wednesday, her colleagues stated that they will miss her presence and her uplifting spirit. Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger, Jr.., said in a statement, “Oregon would not be the state it is today without her incredible dedication to the causes and people she fiercely believed in. Elected to the Oregon Legislature in 1998 as the state’s first African American Republican, Jackie was an icon and leaves a legacy for all Republicans. He life is a great example that with hard work and a strong character, the American Dream is possible. She will be deeply missed.”
- The unity and respect that Winters held in office brought everyone together as one. But now, Republican senators are divided over who would lead. “Winters was an institutional figure who garnered a rare level of respect from both parties,” said Secretary of State Bev Clarno. Let’s keep it that way.
I am deeply saddened that Winters passed away. The struggle of lung cancer she endured while holding her position as Leader Senate of Minorities meant a lot to me and I’m pretty sure others as well. Her legacy will live on and she will be remembered.