Angels Among Us

Gary Brandenburger
Second Wind St. Louis
Board member, photographer, historian and occasional columnist
June, 2006

Almost everyone likes angels. There are the angels in Biblical accounts, archangels and of course guardian angels. Oh yes, there’s also Clarence who got his wings in “It’s A Wonderful Life”. Personally, I have always thought of angels as living among us, disguised as people like the rest of us. But by carefully observing, it’s easy to recognize who they are. Jacque Jewett is one such angel.

While being delightful, sweet and fun, Jacque is a humble, private person. Nevertheless, she graciously consented to appear in the media following her successful heart-lung (H-L) transplant in October 1994, to give hope to others in need of transplantation and to encourage everyone to become donors.

In fact, Jacque’s public advocacy for transplantation has saved lives. In 1994, Linda Brandenburger was unwilling to consider much-needed heart-lung transplantation. One day in 1995, Linda’s mother Mary Catherine Warren, sent a clipping from their local Phoenix newspaper featuring a photo and interview of a very healthy Jacque Jewett. Linda contacted Jacque and before long flew to Phoenix to meet her. A remarkable friendship quickly developed. And Linda changed her mind! Linda traveled to the University of Pittsburgh which quickly put her on the list for a H-L transplant. Back at home in St. Louis a couple months later, Linda became desperately ill. An air ambulance rushed her back to Pittsburgh in August 1995. Eleven months later Linda returned home with her new heart and lungs. She later co- founded Second Wind St. Louis and became its first newsletter editor. All this was possible only because of Jacque’s powerful public advocacy for transplantation and her influence on Linda. Jacque has become a close friend of Linda’s entire family and Second Wind St. Louis. Who knows how many other transplant recipients and donors took life-saving action because Jacque so generously devoted her time and effort to the cause.

In February 2002, Jacque enthusiastically volunteered to serve as our newsletter snail-mail production unit. Many Second Wind members receive our newsletters by email, but for those without email access, Jacque prints, labels, stamps and mails paper copies. Jacque always mails the newsletters promptly each month despite the large amount of time and effort involved in this tedious job.

Jacque’s story just keeps getting better. Not long after her transplant, she returned to her job on a part time basis. The demand for her valuable work led to resuming full time status. Years later she again returned to part time both to rest a bit and to free up time for other interests, including construction of a magnificent home she and her husband Bill built in the mountains. Now, with the approach of her 12th “rebirthday” in October, Jacque has begun preparing for a future – one that extends into retirement! She returned recently to full time work, and quickly proceeded to step into one more sophisticated job after another. With the added responsibilities of her newest and most challenging job, Jacque will be passing our snail-mail responsibility to a new volunteer.

We are so very excited for Jacque (12 years!) and deeply grateful both for her four years of hard work and dedication, and for the inspiration she gives to all of us. I personally treasure Jacque’s friendship and the many gifts she has given to our family – especially for her role in Linda’s five extra years of life, and for the remarkable friendship she shared with Linda (yes, another angel).

Of the many angels walking among us, Jacque is certainly one of the most easily recognized and treasured.
With unending love and gratitude,