June 19, 1930 - June 15, 2014
Jackie passed away peacefully at home in Moraga on June 15, 2014 after a valiant battle with cancer. Jackie was a first generation American born in San Francisco to Assyrian immigrants on June 19, 1930. While a young girl, Jackie's father died unexpectedly, leaving Jackie's mother, the late Irene Sayad Eshia, to raise Jackie and her brother John in a modest apartment at the corner of Polk and Bay Streets. Jackie learned many things from this experience, particularly the importance of family.
Jackie attended Marina Junior High and Galileo High School, graduating in 1948. It was during these years that Jackie formed a life-long bond with a wonderful group of girls who dubbed themselves "the CHICKS," who remained some of her closest friends for over 70 years.
Jackie's mother ingrained in Jackie the importance of education. After receiving her teaching credential from San Francisco State College, Jackie joined her brother in what she considered the most noble of professions—teaching. For several years in the 1950s she was a fourth and sixth grade teacher at Francis Scott Key Grammar School in the Sunset District, where she had a significant impact on the lives of many students, some of whom continued to visit her decades after she retired.
It was while teaching that she developed another circle of friends--the Francis Scott Key Group--with whom she remained close for the rest of her life. To Jackie, being a friend was not just a casual relationship—she formed deep and loving bonds that lasted a lifetime.
During this period she had the great fortune of meeting the love of her life, Tom McInerney (who predeceased Jackie in 2009), an outgoing Irishman who matched Jackie's zest for life. Tom and Jackie were a perfect match. Tom's sense of humor and passion for fun matched Jackie's, and Tom had no better partner or fiercer advocate. In addition to her relatives on her side of the family, Jackie loved Tom's large Irish Catholic family, and was a loving and admired aunt to many nieces, nephews and cousins.
As they began their own family and Tom pursued his law practice, Tom and Jackie moved to the East Bay, where in Moraga they raised their four children: Maureen McAndrews of Dana Point, Tom McInerney of San Anselmo, Tim McInerney, who passed away in 2010, and Kerry Freeman of Berkeley. Jackie embraced motherhood like no other. She was a room mother and team parent every year, worked as a timer or in the snack booth at every swim meet, seemingly chaperoned every field trip and school dance, singlehandedly organized every ski trip and family vacation, and was a loving and supportive presence in her children's lives until her last breath.
While small in stature, Jackie was a giant force of nature. She was a wonderful entertainer and chef, and she specialized in making Persian delicacies she had learned from her mother and her dear Uncle Mooshy Sergis, who was like her father. She was also a master knitter, sewer, and crocheter, and was famous for the darling baby bibs she created over the years for hundreds of newborn babies of friends and relatives. Despite her humble roots, Jackie also epitomized elegance and style, and was one of the best customers I. Magnin and Nordstrom ever had.
Spirituality was also very important to Jackie. Jackie converted to Catholicism in her late teens, and her unshakeable faith brought comfort to her during trying times. She regularly prayed to St. Jude because, she said, years before he had answered her prayers that Tom would ask for her hand in marriage.
In 1991 her son Tim suffered an accident that left him a quadriplegic, and Jackie embraced the role of caregiver like she had her other missions in life. She exhibited amazing strength during these years and provided great comfort to Tim as he confronted his disability.
As Jackie became a grandmother, her life became consumed with loving and supporting her adoring grandchildren. Deeply missing their Nana today are her grandchildren Danny, Katie, Claire, and Megan McAndrews; Molly and Joe McInerney; and Jackson, Leah, Erin and Alex Freeman. She attended their many games and school concerts, helped with their school projects, unhesitatingly traveled short and long distances to babysit, and endlessly bragged about their latest accomplishments, no matter how big or small. Jackie also formed a special bond with each of her children's spouses—John McAndrews, Dale Freeman, and Julie McInerney—as the "mother-in-law" stereotype never fit Jackie.
There will be a vigil for Jackie on June 20 at 7 p.m., and a funeral Mass on Saturday, June 21, at 11 a.m., both at St. Perpetua Catholic Church, 3454 Hamlin Road, Lafayette. In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations in Jackie's name to either the Center for Independent Living (www.cilberkeley.org/donations) or to St. Perpetua Church.
Published in Contra Costa Times on June 18, 2014