I am sorry to tell you that another of Haiti’s greatest and most useful friends, Jackie Williams, has died. She had been in gradually failing health for many months, and died peacefully last night. Her children Marcia Cash and Frank, Clarkson, and Taylor Williams mourn her passing along with countless friends in the U.S. and in Haiti.
Jackie entered the Haiti picture as the wife of Pierce Williams, the engineer who designed the entirely water-powered pumping system which brought water up to Cange, making the initial Partners in Health effort possible. Jackie accompanied him on trips, and passed the time by teaching English and sewing lessons to people in Cange. That ministry grew over the years until she was eventually living full-time in Haiti in the small home she and Pierce had built on the Partners in Health campus. The sewing lessons grew into a small shop where locally-made crafts were sold, with a workshop upstairs for teaching various fabric arts, painting, and whatever became possible. Her various gifts to that community are too numerous to list — from the English lessons which continued along with the sewing, to picking up every stray piece of trash along the way wherever she walked, to the countless tours of the PiH facility she gave to visiting groups, to singing in the choir and supporting the church’s music program including the donation of her own piano, to coercing teams of visiting doctors to spend time after a busy day in the clinic neutering the community stray dogs that reproduced by leaps and bounds, to doing bedpan duty 24 hours a day when patients began arriving for triage after the 2010 earthquake, to sponsoring the education of local students, to providing clean bathrooms and a cold Prestige to visitors, and that doesn’t begin to scratch the surface. For everyone who met her, she was a true friend and a wonderful companion. I am not the only person who aspires to be Jackie when we grow up.
I am attaching her Pledge for Visitors to Haiti which captures her love of the country and her desire to promote great relationships between Haiti and the U.S. Most of us who travel with groups use this as our number one document to get a potential visit off to a good start.
So many of you have met her and experienced her hospitality. Your remembrances, photos, or notes are much appreciated by her children. Condolences may be sent to her daughter Marcia who is serving as the family’s “point person” for gathering the notes:
122 Pleasant Woods Road
Piedmont, SC 29673
Jackie was an intrepid travelling companion who loved to see new things and meet new people. No experience daunted her. Of all of the things I love about her, perhaps it is her fearlessness I love the most. Jackie is one person about whom the words “Rest in Peace” don’t seem to be appropriate. She has been resting in peace for several months, and now I know she is off to new adventures.