Image by Irina Iriser

Celebrating the Life of

Jacqueline E Woods

October 10, 1947 - July 27, 2020


Born Jacqueline Marie Edwards to Eddie and Alma Edwards, Jackie was the oldest of three girls. Always in charge, she was a boss right from the beginning. She grew up in a loving household in the Russell Woods section on the west side of Detroit. Dad worked for the US Postal Service. Mom was a teacher in Detroit Public Schools. 


After graduation from Cass Technical High School, Jackie enrolled at Michigan State University in East Lansing where she met what would become her husband John Kemp. Both were on the move at school and in life. John played football for the Spartans before he left to tour with the R&B group The Capitols famous for their hit song “Cool Jerk”. Before John was drafted in the US Army for Vietnam, John and Jackie were married in 1968 while Jackie was junior in college. 


In between playing cards and partying with her Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. sisters, Jackie found time to earn her BS in speech pathology from MSU while bearing her only son John Bo Kemp prior to graduation. In her first job, she used her degree to help people with a tracheotomy relearn how to speak again.  Jackie, now a single mom, enrolled at Wayne State University where she earned her master’s in education and completed her doctoral coursework. Jackie loved her time at MSU and Wayne State and eventually become the president of the MSU Black Alumni for a period of time in the late 1980s.


Professionally, Jackie spent nearly 40 years in leadership and policy roles in higher education and administration both nationally and internationally. In her early career, Jackie worked for higher education institutions across the United States including Kalamazoo Valley Community College in Michigan, Long Beach City College in California, Community College of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania and City College of Chicago in Illinois. Her work in education included a stint in Washington DC where she served as a presidential appointee of President Bill Clinton in the US Department of Education as the Director of the Community College Liaison Office. In this role, she reported to the Secretary of Education and led both the domestic and internal efforts to improve adult learning. Her outstanding professional career in education led to a number of roles in university governance. Jackie served as one of the American University of Rome Board of Trustees as well as with Arizona State University’s West Campus Dean Advisory Board for the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences. 


As a trailblazing woman herself, Jackie sought to support and embolden women and women’s issues around the world. From 2000-2004, she served as the executive director of the American Association of University Women, a leading advocacy organization for education and equity for all women and girls with more than 100,000 members, 1,300 branches nationwide and a multi-million dollar endowment. Even after leaving the Federal government, she continued to serve as a consultant to the White House Office of Women. In addition, Jackie served as the United Nations representative for the Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund, an organization that provides grants globally to fund locally generated projects that improve the lives of women and girls by advancing women’s rights and social justice.  Lastly, she also served as an Executive Advisory Board Member for the Women’s Policy Journal of Harvard University’s John F Kennedy School of Government.


Jackie was one of the rare and early African American women in the country to serve on corporate for-profit boards. For five years, she served as a board member for Pivot Point Inc, a privately owned business serving as a leader in beauty and hair education. Jackie was chair of the board for Pivot Point for four of the five years she served. She also served for 8 years as a director for Rentway Inc, a publicly-traded company. She served on this board until Rentway was acquired by a competitor.

In 2005, Jackie retired to Scottsdale, Arizona yet continuing her role on various boards and conducting executive search campaigns for higher education professionals with companies such as Academic Search. She was diagnosed with stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer in 2016. She confidently, graciously and with the help of loved ones and friends beat back cancer with nonchalance like the diva she was for four years.

Image by frank mckenna


She is preceded in death by her parents Eddie and Alma. She leaves behind her sisters Carolyn and Anita, her son Bo and wife Eunice and their four children Gabriel, Ariel, Ariana and John Jr. She also leaves behind a niece, Carmen, and her daughter Cyan; a nephew, Michael, and his wife Bianca and their children: DJ, Angel and Michael. Lastly, she also leaves behind as many friends flung across the world as there are stars in the sky. 


Her passion was inspiring. Her energy was infectious, Her kindness and generosity unmatched. Her parties a must. And she did it all with the unparalleled attitude of a Vintage Diva.


We love you mom bunches and bunches.

Memorial Service

On Saturday, August 22, 2020

We celebrated Jackie's life

Rev. Robert L Martin, Sr.- Officiating

Feel free to watch the service here.

Image by James L.W

Bible Verses

Matthew 11:28-30


“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

White Feather

A Poem

I would like to be KNOWN 

as an intelligent woman, 

a courageous woman, 

a loving woman, 

a woman who teaches 

by being.

-Maya Angelou

Foggy Mountains

Order of Service

Gathering of Friends and Family

Participants are encouraged to speak to each other and family members online before the service begins.

Processional...................."Nearer to Thee" Video Tribute 


Invocation…………………....Rev. Robert L Martin, Sr.


Scripture Reading 

Old Testament………….……..John E Kemp Jr.

New Testament…………….Ariel Montes Kemp


Acknowledgements & Resolutions


Obituary: Read Silently


Family Remembrances

Oldest Grandson………………….Gabriel Kemp

Youngest Sister…………….……….Anita May

Son…………………………….John "Bo" Kemp


Eulogy......................................Rev. Robert L Martin, Sr.


Recessional………………………"Sadie" Video Tribute


Digital Repast

Participants are encouraged to remain online to speak to each other and family members.

Honorary Pallbearers

Brian Owens, Michael Chastine Sr., Gabriel Kemp, John Kemp Jr, Dylan Smith, Michael Chastine Jr.

Guest Book

Please visit the Guest Book below and leave a Tribute to Jacqueline E Woods. We would love to hear your memories, see your pictures, and read your kind words.

Image by Hisu lee

Video & Photo Gallery

The gallery below is a tribute to Jacqueline E Woods from his family and friends.



Our family wishes to express our sincere thanks for the scholarship contributions and other expressions of love during our time of bereavement.