The Senator Jackie Winters Memorial Scholarship Fund

The Salem Foundation is pleased to announce the establishment of The Salem Foundation Senator Jackie Winters Memorial Scholarship Fund. We are honored that the Senator’s family and friends chose to create this scholarship fund in memory of Senator Winters within The Salem Foundation.

The purpose of this fund will be to offer scholarship opportunities to Marion and Polk County students who demonstrate, through the application process, that they have met and have overcome some kind of challenging circumstance(s) or obstacle(s) and who will be attending an accredited community college, college, university, technical, trade, or vocational school. The scholarship will first be open to application for the Class of ’21.

Donations in memory of the Senator may be made in any amount. Details will follow at the end of this article.

A brief biography of Senator Winters, written by Selma Pierce:

“Jacqueline Frances Winters (nee Jackson) was an African-American woman born in Topeka, Kansas on April 15, 1936.  Family discussions on current events and history held around the kitchen table started Jackie’s life-long interest in citizen involvement and public policy. 

During World War II, Jackie and her family moved to Portland, Oregon, following the work available in the Oregon Kaiser shipyards.  Her family lived in an area of Portland known as Vanport, an African-American enclave built in a low-laying area by the Columbia River.  On May 30, 1948, a massive flood destroyed the whole community, leaving all of the Vanport inhabitants homeless.  Fortunately, no one in her family was killed.

Jackie attended Portland Public Schools and continued her education through the Oregon University System’s Continuing Education program.  Her studies focused on intergovernmental relations.

In 1959, Jackie began her many years of government service at the University of Oregon’s Medical School in medical records.  Later, she joined the Portland Model Cities Program.  In 1969, she was invited to be a part of Governor Tom McCall’s Office of Economic Opportunity and supervised the New Resources Program Office. She was instrumental in bringing the movie, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” starring Jack Nicholson to be filmed in Salem, Oregon.

Gov. Victor Atiyeh appointed Jackie to be his assistant and Ombudsman, the person appointed to investigate citizen complaints against government.  During this time, she also helped create the Oregon Food Bank, the first statewide non-profit food sharing network.  Today, it continues serving most of Oregon’s neediest families.  

In addition to her government service, Jackie opened the first Jackie’s Ribs restaurant in Salem.  Over time, she and her family expanded the business to three restaurants, two franchises, private party catering services, and many appearances in national BBQ cook-offs.  Her inspiration for the restaurants was her mother’s love of barbequed ribs.

Jackie cared greatly about her community.  She led the Mid-Willamette Valley United Way in their first million-dollar fundraising effort.  She was a charter member of the Salem Chapter of the NAACP, served on the Boards of the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce, the Salem Human Rights Commission, Chemeketa Foundation Board, Oregon Northwest Black Pioneers, Oregon Restaurant Association, National Federation of Independent Businesses, and Howard Street Charter School, to name just a few.  For her work, Jackie received numerous awards and was honored with the City of Salem’s Distinguished Service Award twice and declared Salem’s First Citizen.

Jackie had a very full and happy family life.  She was married to Marc “Ted” Winters, the love of her life.  She had four wonderful and successful sons and daughters-in-law, a stepson, a step-daughter, 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. 

In 1998, the voters of what was then Oregon’s District 31 elected Jackie to be their State Representative, the first African-American Republican woman to achieve this honor.  At one time, Rep. Jackie was the only African-American serving in a statehouse in the United States!  She went on to serve as State Rep. for four years.  In 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014, and 2018, Jackie was elected and re-elected to serve as the State Senator for Oregon’s District 10 which includes Marion and Polk counties.  These elections speak to the quality of person Sen. Winters was.  She was elected in a state where only 1.8% of Oregon’s population is African-American. In 2017, Sen. Winters was selected by her fellow senators to be the Oregon Senate Republican Caucus leader, another first for an African-American. 

What did Jackie stand for?  She was someone who put her community first.  She always looked out for what was best for other people.  She made sure she had time for people, listening and caring.  Hers was the voice of reason and grace at the State Capitol, a place full of egos, cross purposes, differing agendas, and political maneuvering.  Jackie was who the other legislators turned to when they needed common sense, level-headedness, clarity, wisdom, and solid workable solutions for difficult problems.  She sought out colleagues who were willing to work together for a better way.  Because of this, she earned immeasurable amounts of love and respect from governors, other legislators, political opponents, and constituents.  People loved her; she was their champion.”  

Senator Winters was a remarkable person and champion for others. If you would like to make a donation to the Salem Foundation Senator Winters Memorial Scholarship Fund, you may donate using your credit card by using the “Donate Now” button at the top of your screen. Or you may send a check made payable to The Salem Foundation Jackie Winters Memorial Scholarship Fund to the address in the contact information below. Thank you for making a difference! Your gift is tax deductible.

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