|When asked about the pivotal moments in her life,
and who influenced her most, Jackie Winters recalls these family
memories; I was the youngest of six children and my siblings
played a part in my leadership development - - whether they
knew it or not. I had the advantage of learning from their experiences
and surviving in a group. We also debated a lot in my family,
prompted by my father with his daily newspaper and old almanac.
My father was my political influence. He held no office,
but discussed all local, state, and national elections, explaining
why they were important and which candidate deserved his vote.
In my office at the Capitol I have the original receipt of
my grandfathers poll tax. My fathers favorite
political figure was Vice President Charles (Charley) Curtis
who was raised by my great-great-grandmother. A half Native
American himself, he obtained an Indian Entitlement for my
great-grandmother in 1912."
Both of Winters' parents were born in Kansas. She said "(they)
were the youngest in their respective families and the most
adventurous, leaving Kansas in the early (1940's) to make
what was then a long and arduous trip to Oregon to work in
the war industries.
Winters' family settled in Portland. After she graduated
from high school came marriage, motherhood, and efforts to
hurdle the barriers of racial prejudice in employment. Undaunted,
she passed the state civil service examination in 1959 and
began her public service career at Oregon's Health Sciences
University as a clerk typist.
Her involvement in the Model Cities program led to leadership
training where she was noticed by Oregon Governor Tom McCall.
She joined his staff in 1969. She became Assistant to Governor
Atiyeh as Oregon's Ombudsman in 1979.
I commuted from Portland to Salem from 1969 until
1971. On June 19, 1971, Ted and I were married at Westminister
Presbyterian Church here in Salem and with my four sons in
tow we moved into the home where we currently reside.
" I started my business in 1985 which was a big undertaking
and risk; leaving the comfort of a pay check to rely on your
own ingenuity can be perilous at best. (My business,) Jackies
Ribs, exists because of my mother. She loved Kansas City barbecue,
and watching her eat it was a delight, especially for my father.
She did not cook it herself, but my father would go to the
barbecue joint to get it; it was his gift to her.
My involvement in this community has been extensive,
from the NAACP to United Way to developing jobs for youth
and working on excellence in education. My four sons are the
joy of my life and the reason for so much of this effort.
They have blessed me with three wonderful daughters-in-law
and eight grandchildren. When I add Teds two, our brood
of grandchildren jumps to ten. We are a universal
family, very mixed and integrated. Ted's support and encouragement
in of all of my endeavors has allowed me the freedom to grow
and to stretch my limits.
Salem has been good to me. It has been the place where
I have been able to raise my sons, achieve goals that I never
in my wildest dream believe could happen to this person who
grew up in Portlands Albina ghetto where job opportunities
were limited to being a domestic worker or a practical nurse,
neither of which were my choices. When Salem honored me with
a roast in 1980, I was overwhelmed. Although I
grew up in Portland, this is my place.
In 1998 Jackie Winters was elected to the Oregon State Legislature
as the state's first African-American Republican. She is at
the forefront of legislative debate to increase state funding
for all levels of education. Her leadership and consensus
building has assured the continuation of funding for the Oregon
State Fair in Salem.
Recently Winters served as one of four members of a national
panel discussion on women's issues shown on the Lifetime Television
Network. But the honor of which she is most proud is her election
- by her Salem neighbors - as a representative to the Oregon
Note: During the summer of 2000, Ms. Winters was interviewed
by Salem History Volunteer Virginia Green. Information from
the interview was used in this article with Winters' permission.