When Jackie Brooks was a child in Port Angeles, Eleanor Roosevelt came there to christen a battleship. "Her purse fell in the water," Jackie recalls, "and divers had to retrieve it."
The then-First Lady made an impression on Jackie that lasts to this day. "She had the courage to speak up for women's rights and for an end to World War II," says Jackie.
Also, she awed Jackie by saying, "You must do what you think you cannot do" - words that have reverberated throughout Jackie's life.
Jacqueline Hansen was born at home in 1935 in tiny Irene, S.D., outside Sioux Falls. The second of Arthur and Myrtle Hansen's three children, she has an older sister and younger brother.
Arthur was the editor of a bi-weekly newspaper called the Tri-County News. Myrtle, a housewife, had been a track star in college. "My mother was a real tornado," says Jackie, conjuring up an image of the storms that twist through the Black Hills.
When Jackie was 3 years old, the family moved to Kalispell, Mont. "It was a happy place for me," says Jackie. In summer she and other children played kick-the-can and hide-and-seek; in winter they made snow angels. On rainy days, Jackie thought, "Oh, good, I can stay inside and draw." She has been an artist ever since.
In Kalispell, and every place the family lived thereafter, Jackie's father worked as a printer for local newspapers, running a linotype machine. The keyboard created an entire line of metal type at once, with letters arranged in decreasing order of frequency of use in everyday language.
Sadly, Kalispell was also the place where Jackie's mother was diagnosed with "creeping paralysis," the name by which multiple sclerosis was then known.
In 1941 the family moved to Port An-geles, where Jackie saw Eleanor Roose-velt; then, near the end of World War II, to Longview.
About this time her mother inherited a farm, which she sold and used the money to buy a violin for Jackie and a cello for her sister. Jackie is still overwhelmed by the magnitude of her mother's generosity. "It was a sacrificial gift," says Jackie. "She wasn't even a musician herself, and during the De-pression most people didn't think art was important." Jackie already played the piano and accompanied the Baptist church choir on Sundays. Now she had two instruments to practice, and she threw herself into it. "I can be obsessive," she admits.
Jackie graduated from high school in Longview in 1953 and went on to attend Seattle Pacific College (now University - SPU) at the bottom of north Queen Anne Hill. She graduated in 1957 with a degree in music education.
In college she met fellow student David Brooks, who was a year younger than she. They fell in love and were married after she graduated, in 1958. "We were opposites," she says. "I'm an artist, and he studied mathematics and statistics."
During the early years together, they lived in a trailer court at 130th and Aurora, across from an amusement park called Playland. The first year, Jackie spent most of her time in Longview, where her parents still lived, and taught fourth grade. David, finishing up his senior year, commuted to Longview on weekends.
After David graduated, for two years he attended the University of Washington, where he earned his master's degree, while Jackie taught sixth grade in Shoreline. She didn't formally teach music, but it had a strong place in her curriculum. Then David got a teaching position at Whitworth College in Spokane, where the couple's two sons were born: Jeff in 1961 and Arthur in 1964.
After five years the family returned to Seattle and eventually settled on north Queen Anne near SPU, where David taught. Jackie joined the Cascade Symphony in Edmonds as a violinist, a commitment that lasted 20 years. She continued to draw and paint with watercolors, and first exhibited her work in 1976.
Jackie reentered SPU in her mid-40s and earned a second degree, this time in art, in 1982. After that, her career as a watercolorist took off. Her work has been accepted into more than 100 regional, national and international juried competitions, winning awards in more than half of them. The couple's travels to Cyprus, to New Zealand and to Cornwall, England, resulting in exhibits in all three places. She is a member of six water-color societies throughout the country and is past president of the Northwest Watercolor Society. Her work has been published in several books and magazines, and graces the cover of "Queen Anne, Community on the Hill," published by the Queen Anne Historical Society in 1993.
Last year she received SPU's Medallion Award, which is bestowed on alumni who achieve success in their field.
All the while, for almost 40 years, she taught art at several places, including SPU. "I wore myself out carting around my supplies," she says, "as well as the objects I arrange for elaborate still lifes."
Recurrent subjects of her paintings are musical instruments and musicians, merging her two passions. "I let the sounds within me select the colors I use," she says - intense colors such as dark red, purple and black.
Another subject that fascinates her is glassware. "The refractory nature of crystal is exquisite," she says, "and very inspiring to me."
JACKIE WEARS A topaz ring that David gave her in 1990, when she was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. "Something wasn't right for years before that," she says, "but I was in denial."
Parkinson's disease is a chronic and progressive movement disorder that occurs when dopamine-producing cells in the brain malfunction and die. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, or chemical messenger, that sends information to the parts of the brain that control movement.
This diagnosis would be devastating to anyone, but especially to someone like Jackie who uses her hands so creatively. When she was first diagnosed, Jackie figured she should "make hay while the sun shines," and she immersed herself in her work, painting six to eight hours a day.
For his part, David taught at SPU for 30 years, and summer quarters at the University of Washington for a decade. After retiring from SPU, he taught part-time at the UW for two more years, during which time he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He died on Thanksgiving Day 2001.
Jackie belongs to a grief support group, Gilda's Club, which meets every Wednesday evening on Capitol Hill. "You think you're better," she says, "then comes another blow." The group has helped her be honest about her feelings of loss, and become a better listener as well.
She also attends Seattle First Baptist Church on Capitol Hill, an all-inclusive church. "It's important to me to ponder and question profound issues," she says.
Jackie has few regrets. "In work, I followed my passions," she says, "and I chose a good man." She elaborates, speaking plainly. "David loved me. He was faithful to me. He was a good provider. He expressed his love to me every day. And we laughed a lot together."
ABOUT TWO-AND-A-HALF years ago Jackie moved into Queen Anne Manor. Her paintings are displayed throughout the facility, as well as in her room.
Her door opens into a short entry hall covered with family pictures and her hat collection. This leads into a single room with a private bath to one side. In her room are two oriental rugs taped to the floor, two wing-backed chairs, a burgundy love seat, a baby grand piano and her bed. On the bed are a dark red quilt and matching silk pillows. The iron bed frame is scrolled like a treble clef.
Jackie paints sitting up in bed now, doing her best to ignore her shaking hand. In the spirit of Eleanor Roosevelt, she intones, "I will, I will, I will," doing what many would think she could not do.
The piano, too, still beckons, and she plays a hymn, showing that she can. "My goal is for others to see beyond my infirmity," she says.
Musicality is a family trait. Though professionals in other fields, both of Jackie's sons are musicians. Jeff plays the double bass; Arthur, the French horn. They, in turn, have passed this predilection for music on to several of their own children. "One of my grandsons plays the violin beautifully," says Jackie. She recently gave him her prized violin, made in Austria in 1750.
Her mother's gift reaches far.
To view Jackie's artwork, log on to www.seanet.com/~brooksgal/