When asked how many of them were taught to swim by Sally Jackson or had a family member who had been, nearly every hand went into the air.
People of all ages and professions packed the stands of University High School on Saturday morning to remember Jackson, who was known for her political and community activism, athletic coaching and sharp sense of humor.
“(I remember) being 14, and Mom waking me up one morning. She dropped a bag of softball gear on the floor. She said, ‘There are 12 girls who need a coach. You have practice at 10 a.m. and their first game is at noon.’ I asked her for a ride, and she said, ‘That’s what your bike is for,’ ” said Andy Jackson, one of Sally’s six children, at the service.
Sally Jackson died of a heart attack on Nov. 2, but COVID-19 restrictions at the time meant the family had to postpone an in-person memorial service.
One of her 16 grandchildren, Brooke Jackson, read from Sally’s autobiography. She read about how her grandmother lived through the Great Depression and World War II, both of which activated in Sally what would become a lifelong passion for helping others.
Sally Jackson spent her time speaking at schools and political events on the value of voting. She staunchly advocated for workers’ and women’s rights, and supported civil rights and LGBTQ+ movements.
Sally Jackson was born Sally Bigham in Spokane Valley. When she died at 88, she had built a reputation for her dedication to helping young women in sports and politics. She founded the Spokane Valley Girls Softball League, coached baseball and softball, and taught hundreds of community members to swim in a pool she built on the family property.
As a member of the World Who’s Who of Women, Sally Jackson also served a term as a Spokane County Democratic chairwoman. She worked alongside U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell on her campaign, as well as U.S. Sen. Patty Murray. She ran for the U.S. House of Representatives twice but did not serve.
Cantwell spoke at the service, saying Sally Jackson was a “force to be reckoned with” while helping the Cantwell campaign in Spokane Valley.
“Pretty soon I started realizing, I’m not sure it matters what I say. As long as Sally will step right up, I got this thing, we’re gonna win some votes,” Cantwell said. “After about two hours, I asked her, ‘Sally did you teach everyone in this dang county how to swim?’ And she just laughed. She knew. She knew she had built community and connections.”
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