Greater Brush Prairie: The doctor told Jean Lacey’s mother that her premature baby would not live through the night. That was Jan. 13, 1914. She lived through many more nights and will celebrate her 100th birthday on Monday.
She has been involved for decades in programs to help women and children. Lacey was executive director of the YWCA of Clark County for 18 years and led efforts to help battered women escape domestic violence, and to help women in jail rebuild their lives. She was named Clark County’s “First Citizen” in 1970.
Born in Vancouver, B.C., she and her husband John, along with their son, Clark, moved to Vancouver USA in 1950. She was married to her husband for 64 years before he died in 2003. Her son died in 2004 after suffering a brain aneurysm.
In 1967, Lacey was one of 25 women chosen for a world tour led by Mary Rockefeller. The four-month study was sponsored by the U.S. State Department, the Rockefeller Foundation and the national YWCA.
She was part of establishing Vancouver’s sister-city relationship with Joyo, Japan.
Two Northwest governors tapped Lacey for state commission spots. Then-Gov. Tom McCall appointed her to the Oregon State Drug Commission, and former Gov. Albert Rosellini named Lacey to the Washington State Commission on the Status of Women.
Lacey is a member of Soroptimist International of Portland.
She sparked a spirit of volunteerism at Cascade Retirement Inn after she moved there. She formed a crocheting and knitting club whose members made baby caps for infants at Southwest Washington Medical Center.
When she was 94, Lacey offered some advice to young people: “Take the word ‘no’ — and the word ‘never’ — out of your vocabulary. Look to the future. I know night will come, but there’s always another day.”