Jackie Meyers

A fighter for the welfare of kids and animals

Jacqueline A “Jackie” Meyers PhD, 66, of Bremo Bluff crossed the Rainbow Bridge November 1 after a shockingly brief struggle with brain cancer. She was widely known and respected for her work in animal welfare, as the founder and director of the Peaceful Passings Senior Animal Rescue. There are people throughout the world now active in the field who were inspired and mentored by her. Jackie was also long-time member of the Fluvanna County administration.

She was born and spent her girlhood in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, and was proud of her distinctive central Jersey accent. Her father left the family early, two older brothers were grown, and her mother raised her while seeking higher education and finding a series of jobs in college administration in Michigan and western New York. Regardless of where they were living, Jackie spent summers on the Jersey shore with her beloved Uncle Emil and Aunt Ruth.

She earned an undergraduate degree in literature at SUNY Brockport near Rochester, NY and remained a warm friend with many of her classmates from Brockport High and the college. Finding a vocation in counseling, Jackie obtained an MSW from Keene State in New Hampshire and some years later after a divorce, her doctorate in public administration from the Wilder School at Virginia Commonwealth University.

She started her career in Massachusetts but, influenced by a sister-in-law who had settled at Yogaville in Buckingham County, Jackie and her then-husband moved to Fluvanna in 1991. She held a series of jobs in counseling at Elk Hill, FUMA and Albemarle County Schools before becoming Fluvanna’s Children’s Services Act program manager. The Act directs the expenditure of state and local funds to provide intervention and support for at-risk youth and families. Jackie worked with and coordinated efforts by schools, courts, the sheriff’s office, and social service agencies. She retired from county overnment in 2016 to devote herself full time to Peaceful Passings, and was recently honored by the Board of Supervisors “for her many contributions to the County as seen through her Community Leadership, Civic Responsibility, Volunteer Service, Community Spirit, and Innovation.”

In May of the first year of the new millennium, she attended a birthday party for the sculptor David Breeden, where she met Dave Sagarin, and they never looked back. They married a year later and started to accumulate dogs.

They determined to take in senior and special-needs animals, and to provide them with first rate medical care (settling on Old Dominion Animal Hospital in Charlottesville), to provide love and family for dogs that may have been mistreated, and to move them along with adoption wherever possible. The smaller dogs lived in the house, in numbers that occasionally reached 15 or 16. A system of pens and then sturdy shelters were built for the larger dogs.

Jackie was not a “nice” person. She could be cold and relentless dealing with a world that treated the vulnerable, kids and animals, badly. She hated hypocrisy and games-playing and was without the political skills to let things go. She was a tireless poster on Facebook and dealt each day with 50 or more messages, emails, and phone calls from shelters and owners with dogs to place and stories that would melt your heart. Fundraising for the rescue was a constant pursuit. In 2018 Jackie published “Loving an Older Dog,” a collection of essays, insight and advice.

Jackie and Peaceful Passings were frequent subjects of media attention, including several articles in the Fluvanna Review and a segment on the Virginia Currents television program (accessible on YouTube). As a consultant to the Humane Society of the United States, she was deployed occasionally to help administer special rescue facilities. This included stints in Louisiana following Katrina and in New Jersey following Sandy.

Several bequests in recent years permitted the addition of a facility for senior cats and the acquisition and furnishing of a small chapel. The Peaceful Passings Senior Animal Rescue facility is in hiatus, and the animals have been placed in foster care or adoption through the good offices of friends and cooperating rescue organizations. Purchasers are sought who will continue the work of the rescue.

A brother Robert died some years ago, and a brother Harold lives in Staunton. Dr. Meyers had no children of her own and is survived by her husband, four stepchildren, six step-grandchildren, and a panoply of nieces and nephews. She also has two half-brothers living in the West with their families. Arrangements are being handled by Sheridan Funeral Home of Kents Store. Interment will be private, while a memorial service is being planned for next summer, when it is hoped that larger gatherings will be better accommodated. Donations in her memory may be made to the Fluvanna SPCA or the animal welfare organization of your choice.

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