Media Room


Governor Kate Brown
Senator Jackie Winters Eulogy
Thursday, June 13, 2019

Senator Winters was a dear friend.  Her passing is being felt throughout all of Oregon. To the entire Winters family, please know that we are holding you in our hearts at this time, we are so sorry for your loss, and for ours.

It’s no secret that Senator Winters was a trailblazer, breaking down barriers to become the first African-American Republican elected to the legislature, and eventually the first African-American Republican Caucus leader.  She earned those titles by virtue of her relentless spirit.

A resident of Vanport during the infamous flood, she was raised in a country only just coming to grips with its treatment of people of color.  Denied entry to business school because of the color of her skin, she refused to let discrimination block her path. 

And as well all know, she overcame. 

But, when I think of Senator Winters, I don’t think of her history, I think of her personality.  Senator Winters had a calm about her, and a deeply admirable gentleness.

When conflict arose in the building, she was able to counteract any rising animosity purely through the force of her personality.  Any of us who ever sat in a caucus room with Jackie knew, all she had to do was wag her finger and the conversation was over!

She was a natural born leader, and she used that quality to help others her entire life. 

When she needed something, she put it on the table.  When she couldn’t budge, she told you.  And when she could, she’d meet you halfway.  Working with Senator Winters, you knew she wasn’t holding any cards behind her back.

I believe she was able to do that, because what she fought for in the Capitol was never self-serving.  It was always in the interest of her constituents and Oregonians.  She was a public servant at heart, and we are so fortunate she served Oregon.

Actively engaging with the community, listening to their concerns, brainstorming solutions to problems, and then enacting those solutions. I believe this was a lifelong calling for her.  And she was treasured as a true friend within her community.

No obstacle was too big for Jackie, and whenever she was faced with a roadblock, she gracefully dismantled it.  The results she achieved are a monument to that.

Her efforts grew Oregon Relief Nurseries from three facilities to thirty-one.  She helped establish Oregon Food Share so that our senior citizens wouldn’t have to choose between food and medicine.  Young or old, she worked for every single Oregonian, every single day.

The recent passage of Senate Bill 1008, Youth Sentencing Reform, is a testament to Senator Winters’s magnanimous nature.  She saw the best in everyone, and she saw hope in their future.

That legislation came together because of Senator Jackie Winters, while truly being crafted by a village.  She brought everyone together, and as she was apt to do, cleared the path forward. 

Her commitment to fairness, justice, and rehabilitation was unwavering.  As a tribute to that, we are naming the newly remodeled Youth Challenge Program campus in Bend in her honor. 

It will serve troubled youth in our community for generations to come, reshaping lives and putting them on a path towards success.  Redemption after all, was something she was closely acquainted with.

Her relationship with her husband, Ted Winters was, simply put, magical.  He was a man who earned his absolution through hard work after a religious experience.  His earthly salvation however, was Jackie.  They were made for each other, and once they found each other they never let go.  They were deeply and truly in love.  Even though they have left us, we know they are happily dancing together once again.

Senator Winters was also a caring, dedicated, mother and grandmother.  No matter how busy she was, she always had time to see her family, whether it was in Salem, Bend, or California.  Pushing them to achieve, and doing what she could to help them prosper.  She loved them each with all of her soul.

That was Jackie.  A soul devoted to good in all forms. A manifestation of kindness, resolve, and heart. 

As we mourn, we remember what Jackie meant to each of us.  The imprint she made on this state, and countless individuals, will not be forgotten.  

And as her tree grows on the Capitol grounds, let us each help the good she created in life, flower.

Thank you.