Former Kenai resident Jacqueline “Jackie” Sewell died Thursday, June 21, 2007 at Providence Hospital in Anchorage from complications of Alzheimers. She was 83.
A potluck memorial celebration will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, June 29, in the fellowship hall of the First Congregational Church in Anchorage. Attendees are asked to bring a dish, photos and memories to share.
Mrs. Sewell was born Aug. 4, 1923, in Bradford, Pa., to Francis and Charlotte Nelson. She graduated from Leesburg High School in Leesburg, Fla., in 1941. She met her husband, Charles “Chic” Sewell, while training as a sheet metal worker. They married in January 1942 and hitchhiked cross country to San Francisco where Jackie built ships while Chic served in World War II. After an attempt to sail a freighter to Italy went aground off the coast of Cuba, the couple brought their family to Alaska and settled in Kenai.
They moved to Anchorage where she served on the committee for statehood from 1957-59. The couple performed and worked for the Anchorage theater community from 1958 until Chic’s death in 1971, including roles in plays featuring Theresa Wright and Charles Laughton.
Mrs. Sewell was an active member of the Democratic party, and worked for Governors Egan and Sheffield, and campaigned for President Carter, whom she met in 1980. She was the director of the Committee for Political Education for the AFL-CIO and the Alaska director of the 1980 federal census. In 1981, she moved back to the peninsula, first to Kenai and then in 1988 to Nellie Lawing’s homestead near Moose Pass, where she opened Alaska Nellie’s Inn with her sister. They dedicated themselves to creating a museum to celebrate the life of pioneer Nellie Lawing. In 1998 she married Vince DiMichele, who passed away in March 2006.
“Jackie was an active member of the Kenai Peninsula Historical Society and the Unitarian Church of Anchorage, as well as a certified teacher for Unity Church International. She was known for her graciousness, optimism, and her wicked sense of humor,” her family said.
Mrs. Sewell was preceded in death by her brother, George Nelson of Chitina; and sister, F. Jean Dann of Moose Pass.
She is survived by her children, Charli Sewell and C. Scott Sewell of Anchorage and Sylvia Sewell Ramsaywak of New York, N.Y.; brothers and sisters, Carol McCall, Virginia Getford and William Nelson of Leesburg, Fla.; grandchildren, Noel Jones, John Lyse, Macie Angel, Tiya Ivy, Nicholas Sewell, and Jordan and Jude Ramsaywak; and eight great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be sent to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Arrangements were made by Evergreen Memorial Chapel in Anchorage.
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