The hospitality industry and the state of Oregon lost a great champion when State Senator Jackie Winters passed away from lung cancer on May 29, 2019.
Beloved by all in the Capitol for her sense of fairness and justice, Sen. Winters began her political career in 1969 when, at the request of Governor Tom McCall, she was recruited to be supervisor of the Office of Economic Opportunity’s New Resources Program.
In 1979 she was appointed Ombudsman by Governor Victor Atiyeh. During her tenure in that office, she helped create the Oregon Food Share Program, the first statewide non-profit food sharing network, which continues today serving Oregon’s neediest families.
In 1985, Jackie opened her first Jackie’s Ribs restaurant in Salem. Over time, she and her family expanded to include three restaurants, two franchises, catering services and numerous appearances in national Bar-B-Q Cook-offs.
Winters was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives in 1998 and became the first African-American Republican ever to serve in the Oregon Legislative Assembly. She was re-elected to this office in 2000 and then to the Oregon State Senate in 2002 where she served until her passing.
On November 15, 2017, Winters was elected as Senate Minority Leader to replace Ted Ferrioli. She became the first black legislative caucus leader in the state.
Jackie was an integral part of the Oregon Restaurant Association’s advocacy work as she served on the Government Affairs Committee and was part of the ORA’s Regional Board.