Jackie Bailey Elliott, 92


Jackie Bailey Elliott left this earth on Dec. 2, at the age of 92.

She was born on Aug. 31, 1930, near West Liberty, where her parents, Arthur and Lula (Sindt) Bailey lived and farmed.

Jackie recounted the difficulties of growing up during the Depression, but this childhood helped her develop qualities of determination and resilience that lasted a lifetime. She was proud of her Bailey Quaker roots and her early years as an Iowa farm girl.

After graduating from West Liberty High School in 1947, Jackie attended the Iowa State Teachers College and found her vocation. She began as an elementary school teacher for four years in Muscatine, and then moved to Wheaton, Illinois, as a fourth/fifth grade and special education teacher for over 30 years in Wheaton School District 200.

Jackie found special joy in reading stories to her young students, especially the pioneer adventures told by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and in encouraging creativity through art and science projects. In the mid 1960’s, Jackie spent two summers in New York City at Columbia University, from which she earned a master’s degree in Education. Her love of reading, nature, and art inspired her teaching and in turn gave inspiration to her students.

In 1960, Jackie met and married Kenneth B. Elliott, Jr., the father of one of her fourth graders. Jackie became a step-mom to two sons and a daughter and was then blessed with another son, Edward B. Elliott, in March 1962.

When Ed was young, the family took summer trips to different areas of the U.S. and to the Bailey family farm in Iowa. Jackie and Kenneth raised their family and lived in Wheaton until their retirement in the mid-1980’s, when they built a log house near Hancock, Wisconsin. Not long after retiring, Kenneth became ill and died in 1988.

As a widow living in the middle of a woods in Wisconsin, Jackie began another phase of her life. Companion to her love of art, antique hunting was a favorite activity. She enjoyed finding works of art and jewelry and made numerous trips to Kurtzweil’s Antiques in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. as well as several trips to Europe.

Her log house contained a treasure trove of family heirlooms, paintings, dishes, and antique art items. During this time, Jackie also fostered her interest in pioneer life through further reading and research. One year, she hosted a Christmas meal with foods found exclusively in stories from the Little House on the Prairie books. Following her dedication to learning, Jackie also served on the Plainfield district school board to help improve the quality of education and to support literacy for local students. In the log house, Jackie had several feline companions including Spook, a large black tomcat who was the terror of all birds and small mammals in the neighborhood.

After selling the log house and moving to a condo in Stevens Point in 1997, Jackie joined a book club and was active in sharing her love of reading and giving presentations on the lives and works of different authors. Jackie was an avid reader until later in life when her eyes no longer cooperated. She was also an enthusiastic baseball and football fan and especially liked cheering on the Chicago Cubs and watching the Notre Dame college football team get beat. In the last years of her life, Jackie lived in Elmhurst, Illinois, where her son Ed and his family resided.

Jackie is survived by her son Ed, her stepsons John and Bill, her stepdaughter Louise, seven grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, her brother Tom (Karleen) and their children.

A graveside service will be held on May 13, 2023, at 3 p.m. at the Springdale Cemetery in West Branch near the area that Jackie first called home. Anyone wishing to honor Jackie may make a donation to the West Liberty Public Library, 400 Spencer St., West Liberty, IA.