Cover photo for Jacquelyn Gaines's Obituary
Jacquelyn Gaines Profile Photo
1926 Jacquelyn 2023

Jacquelyn Gaines

November 25, 1926 — August 1, 2023

Born November 25, 1926 in Loomis, WA, Jackie moved as a young child with her parents to Lummi Island. There she attended Beach School through 8th grade, and later attended Queen Anne High School in Seattle. Jackie spent her childhood summers on the Island riding her horse and working for her family’s resort business, “Taft’s The Willows,” raising vegetables, changing cabin beds, pot scrubbing, plucking chickens and playing piano for guests.

Jackie attended Washington State College in Pullman from 1943-1948 where she majored in Foreign Languages, and was active in the Alpha Sigma Chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta. She earned a Master’s degree for her work cataloging a collection of colonial Mexican documents, the Regla Papers, and started a life-long love of Mexico.

At WSC she met her husband, Grant Gaines. They married in 1948 and ultimately settled in Berkeley, CA in 1957. Grant started his career in San Francisco and together they had three children. Widowed in 1965, Jackie moved her family to Mexico City for two years and attended the University of the Americas. There she studied art, architecture, and how to teach Spanish. Consistent with her adventurous spirit, she and her children regularly headed out in the old Ford Fairlane station wagon to explore and experience the country and Mexican culture.

Following a brief return to Berkeley, Jackie moved her family to Lummi Island in 1969 to live at the family property, Driftwood Cove. In 1972, she returned to Beach School to work as a Teacher’s Assistant alongside head teacher and her dearest friend Patty (Gregory) Helm, retiring in 1991. Patty and Jackie’s almost 20 years of teaching together were marked by wonderfully-produced musical plays, elaborate Halloween costume parties, and generations of accomplished students.

Jackie married Rod Aschenbrenner, a longtime family friend and former WSC graduate, in 1995. For their remaining healthy years, Jackie and Rod were active in the Lummi Island Church and community, traveled extensively throughout Europe and Asia, and hosted many marvelous meals for family and friends.
Jackie passed away on August 1, 2023 from natural causes. She was preceded in death by husbands Grant Gaines (1965) and Rod Aschenbrenner (2014), and her daughter Paula Gaines (2022). She is survived by her brother John Melcher III (Barbara) of Palm Desert, CA, her son Gary Gaines (Janet) of Naperville, IL, daughter Janice Walker (Scott) of Bellingham, and grandson Graham Gaines of Northville, MI. Also surviving are her extended family of Kevin Southworth, Barbara Aschenbrenner, Lisa Dunn (Denny), Aaron Dunn (Nicol), Genny Dunn, Nicole Walker (Tom Gordon), Zack Walker (Alie), nephews, cousins, great grandchildren and other extended Melcher/Gaines family.

Jackie was a compassionate, kind, loving, intelligent, adventurous woman. She loved architecture, art, music, travel, cooking, entertaining, gardening, books, teaching and caring for others-- especially children. She touched the lives of many people in positive and lasting ways.

The family will hold a small memorial gathering at a future date. We would like to especially thank Jackie’s caregivers on Lummi Island, at Cordata Court Memory Care, and at Whatcom Hospice for their skilled and compassionate care during her final years of life. Memorial donations may be made to the Lummi Island Fire Department, Whatcom Hospice and/or American Cancer Society.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Jacquelyn Gaines, please visit our flower store.


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