Letter from Jill
July 14, 2005
I must apologize at the outset; what I have written is too brief to encapsulate my sister Jan’s life. Her life, her energy, her spirit touched many. It is in the many memories of time I shared with her that I find comfort. I wish the same for all those who read this.
I miss my sister. She was a woman filled with spirit and passion for the things she loved. She found a place in her heart to motivate and inspire those around her. Her influence on my life cannot be summed up simply; suffice it to say she helped me find my confidence to pursue what I loved most. The geographical distance between us did not diminish the bond we had; we always found time to speak on the phone or write. We visited regularly and traveled together many times.
Let me share one personal recollection of Jan’s passion and tremendous capacity to inspire people. In the 1970s, I went for a weekend visit to Jan’s house in New Haven, Connecticut. At this particular time she was immersed in the organization of the Yale Coop union. I was caught up in all the energy, so much so that I ended up staying 2 weeks to work with her. While only on the periphery of all the activity, I valued, and value today, the opportunity to observe the passion and energy by which she lived. It was an experience I certainly will never forget and one, I believe set the stage for her later activities.
As sisters are prone to do we disagreed on a few things, however, when I look back at her dismay with me for choosing a Business Administration degree, I must smile. As Jan sought a different avenue to improve the conditions of workers, I sought to become a better manager. In the end, I suppose we shared the same objectives.
When Jan assumed her most recent position at the SEIU 1199 Union we spent countless hours discussing management issues, challenges and successes. There was something quite satisfying for me about those conversations on a personal level. I was no longer the little sister, but one whose experience she valued.
All three daughters have pursued, or are pursuing advanced degrees in disciplines we are most passionate about. Each of us chose to return to college after many years in the workforce, bringing to our academic studies a rich body of experience. In Jan’s personal belongings are a number of papers written for her MBA coursework, evidence of her continuing passion and her life experience.
The value of an education is a common denominator among the three of us, and most certainly is shared by our parents who not only hold advanced degrees but have supported us in these pursuits in countless ways.
We know the value of an education and the family wholly supports the efforts of Jan’s closest friends to establish the Jan Stackhouse Scholarship through Baruch College. A scholarship under Jan’s name is the perfect expression of all she believed in, a living testimony to a woman, my sister, whose life ended way too soon.