Jill Kurtz, an attorney known for being a sleeves-rolled-up leader in many community clubs in north Clark County, died of a pulmonary embolism Sunday at her home in Battle Ground. She was 63.
Kurtz is survived by her husband David, three children and two grandchildren.
A full-time probate attorney and serial volunteer, Kurtz is remembered by friends and family for mixing persistence with patience. She was a partner at her family’s law firm, an avid gardener, an equestrian and a member of numerous community organizations.
Yet she made time for both clients and coworkers — who were often her family, too.
“Clients felt they could just walk in and see her. She would make time,” said son David Kurtz, who practices probate law at the firm alongside his two uncles, brother and cousin. “She was extremely generous with her time to the point I felt she was overextending herself. But she just enjoyed it. It was never something she felt was a burden.”
For Kurtz, family and law seemed to go hand in hand.
After graduating from Gonzaga University School of Law in 1981, she began practicing law with her father, Earl Jackson Sr. After his death four years later, she and her two brothers founded the firm Jackson, Jackson & Kurtz, with a bailiwick in estate planning and real estate law.
By then she had married a lawyer, too, and had given birth two sons who would join the family firm years later.
“After school, we’d hang out at the firm and wait until she was done to take us home,” said David Kurtz. “We did spend quite a bit of time in the conference room, now that I think of it. I think it was kind of destined we were going to be attorneys.”
She wouldn’t just stay in the office, however. Kurtz was a gardener, growing flowers and vegetables that she could donate to the North County Food Bank, of which she was a board member.
Executive Director Liz Cerveny said she and Kurtz would often take road trips to area nurseries, finding flowers to pot and auction off at the food bank’s Spring Team and Fall Scare Away Hunger fundraisers. And if Kurtz wasn’t helping orchestrate the event, she was helping clean up.
“Jill was right there in the middle of every activity,” Cerveny said. “Right there alongside the volunteers whether it was serving hot dogs or cleaning up after the major auctions, she would just roll up her sleeves and do whatever was needed.”
Kurtz helped at Battle Ground’s Kiwanis and Rotary clubs, the Fargher Lake Grange and the Battle Ground Community Center, among others. She put on Christmas and Thanksgiving parties.
“She made friends very, very easily and was very loving and generous with her time,” said daughter Heidi Zimmerman. “She was just a great person.”
Besides gardening, Kurtz loved two very different animals. Years ago, she raised and took care of Tennessee Walking Horses, known for their uniquely smooth gait; and she remained an avid fan of the University of Washington Huskies, attending football games up until last season.
Quietly, Kurtz also ate lunch once a week at Mallard Landing Assisted Living with two elderly women in the early stages of dementia, said Executive Director T.C. Davis. She would eat and discuss current events every Monday.
“Always a lot of laughs from that table,” Davis said. “That was a huge gift. Time is of course the best gift we can give our seniors. I think it’s so great Jill saw a need where people don’t normally notice. It was very helpful.”