November 23, 1940 - January 7, 2021
Charlotte, North Carolina - CHARLOTTE – Jill Dinwiddie fought for women's rights, and to help us see the dignity in others regardless of class, color, culture or faith. She died on January 7, 2021 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 80, principled and passionate until the end.
Jill was born in Detroit on Nov. 23, 1940, the daughter of Robert and Jane Dinwiddie Jr. Her curiosity about the world beyond her own came from her mother, who was always engaged in the community. Jill's heart and mind were further broadened by her family hosting a Swedish exchange student, then spending four months of her junior year in high school as an American Field Service exchange student in Turkey. She lived with a Muslim family and learned to appreciate another culture, an experience that shaped what was to come.
After graduating in 1963 from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Communications, she took her first job teaching kindergarten at a U.S. Defense Department school in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. The work that followed was part of a journey, reflecting Jill's calling to lift up the importance of international education, and advancing women's rights in the political arena and beyond. Among her jobs: Director of the International Center at UNC-Chapel Hill and University of Texas; Vice President of Public Policy for the Association of International Educators (NAFSA); Director of Sen. Dianne Feinstein's Northern California office; and Executive Director of the N.C. Council for Women. She cared deeply about access to reproductive health care, accurate sex education, curbing domestic violence and electing women to public office. That last pursuit was fueled by the 1991 U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Clarence Thomas, and Anita Hill's charge of sexual harassment.
She served as Board Chair of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, among the three national boards, three multistate boards, four statewide boards, 17 local boards and four political campaigns on which she served.
Jill lived in Germany, Rochester and Syracuse (N.Y.), Evanston (Ill.), Washington, D.C., Chapel Hill and San Francisco. She and her husband, Bernie Hargadon, moved to Charlotte in 2003 to be closer to their daughters, Penni and Louise. Throughout their almost 30 year marriage, they travelled the world, enjoyed music and art and supported causes near and dear to their hearts.
Jill "retired" in 2011 if you can call it that. She co-founded the eNOugh campaign to raise awareness of domestic violence long before the movement rose to the forefront. She remained active in the cause through the Jamie Kimble Foundation for Courage, who recently named their Courage to Soar award for high schools after Jill. Among her proudest achievements was helping establish a new Planned Parenthood Health Center in Charlotte. After being named as 2015 Woman of the Year in Charlotte, she told a reporter that the older she got, the bolder she got in pursuit of the causes closest to her heart.
Early on, Jill decided that life is worth living when you give back. Mission accomplished!
Jill is survived by two daughters from a first marriage – Kirsten Garrett of Dallas and Penni Stritter of Charlotte; four grandchildren – Savannah and Steven Garrett, Sam and Will Reynolds; and an older sister, Sue McDowell and her husband, Tom, of Pompano Beach. Fla. She is also survived by four stepchildren from Bernie's first marriage – Geoff Hargadon and his wife, Patricia La Valley, of Somerville, Ma., Bob Hargadon and his wife, Tracy Kellum, of Seattle, Dave Hargadon and his wife, Suzi, of Woodland, Calif., and Louise Hargadon of Charlotte. She also loved her 10 step-grandchildren – Ashley Johnston, Stephanie Rogers, Mia Tankoos, Courtney Button, Ellis, Joseph, Trevor and Michael Hargadon, and Lauren and Robert O'Neill and four great grandchildren.
The family is deeply grateful for the love and care shown by Hospice and Palliative Care of the Carolinas Region, special caregivers Beth Arcilesi and Maxine Daniels, and "adopted" daughter Dr. Susan Bliss.
A private service to celebrate her life will be at 3:00 PM on Thursday, January 21, 2021 at First Presbyterian Church in uptown Charlotte. Due to COVID restrictions, the service will be streamed on the church website, www.firstpres-charlotte.org/funerals
A gift in Jill's memory can be made to Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, 100 South Boylan Ave, Raleigh, NC 27603; Jamie Kimble Foundation for Courage, 1850 E. Third St., Suite 110, Charlotte, NC 28204; Dinwiddie Family Scholarship at American Field Service, One Whitehall St., Second floor, New York, N.Y. 10004; or Hospice and Palliative Care of the Charlotte Region, PO Box 470408, Charlotte, NC 28247.
Arrangements are in the care of Kenneth W. Poe Funeral & Cremation Service, 1321 Berkeley Ave., Charlotte, NC 28204; (704) 641-7606. Online condolences can be shared at www.kennethpoeservices.com
Published by Charlotte Observer on Jan. 10, 2021.