Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lucille Ruth Baxley, founder of Pasco chapter of the League of Women Voters, dies at 87.

Lucille Ruth Baxley had a law degree, worked in science and politics, and had three children.

Special to the Times

Lucille Ruth Baxley had a law degree, worked in science and politics, and had three children.

NEW PORT RICHEY — Lucy Baxley already had demonstrated an extraordinary intelligence and dedication to higher education by the time she landed in Pasco County.

As a young woman, she earned a degree in psychology at Indiana University and worked as a researcher for Dr. Alfred Kinsey and his revolutionary work on human sexual behavior. She got a law degree from LaSalle University and served as a field supervisor for the late Gov. John West in South Carolina.

For three decades, she balanced career and service as a military wife, guiding three children to their own successful careers before "retiring'' to Florida.

And then she really started shaking things up.

In 1980, as Pasco County reeled from unbridled development and government corruption, Mrs. Baxley easily recognized the screaming need for watchdogs. She and some other like-minded women who had moved from more progressive communities set out to form a chapter of the League of Women Voters. They conducted forums so voters could get to know candidates and issues. In a county where special interests had dictated public policy, these women grew their ranks with only one real mission: good government.

In time, as Mrs. Baxley served four terms as president of the league, they boasted more than 100 members. Anybody who ran for office would have to deal with them. They would advocate campaign finance reform, open records, child welfare and growth management. They earned respect for their calm but authoritative manner and independence.

Pat Gorecki moved to Gulf Harbors in 1987 from Minnesota. She had been a card-carrying member of the League of Women Voters since 1956, and before she had even unpacked her bags, she found herself attending one of the meetings where Mrs. Baxley presided. The two women would become close friends.

"She was so intelligent,'' said Mrs. Gorecki, now 81. "She was an inspiration to many.''

Mrs. Gorecki refuses to drink from Styrofoam cups, "or anything else that's bad for the environment.'' She still uses a cup that Mrs. Baxley gave her in 1991. On the side it reads, "League of Women Voters of Pasco County.''

Sadly, the women who blazed the trail for the local league grew old. The organization that had been so vibrant and influential disappeared.

Lucy Baxley would not be pleased. She would not mince words in one of her meticulous letters to the editor. But if there is to be a chapter now, younger women must step forward.

Mrs. Baxley died on Monday (May 2, 2011) after an illness at her home in Walterboro, S.C., where she moved to in 1996. She was 87. Her husband of more than six decades, John, died four years ago. He had served 27 years in the Army, fighting in three wars before retiring as a lieutenant colonel and then earning a Ph.D in counseling. He worked as a guidance counselor for several years in Pasco schools.

Their three children illustrate the family's value of education. John Jr. is a physician, Reade a retired chemical engineer. And Dr. Rebecca Yackel, the youngest, is the administrator at the Baldomero Lopez State Veterans Nursing Home in Land O'Lakes. Yackel's son Patrick Montgomery, an Army Rangers sergeant, is flying from his combat mission in Afghanistan for the funeral.

"She taught me integrity, honesty, faith and perseverance,'' Yackel said Wednesday. "I believe she would say her greatest accomplishment is her children. . . . She will be remembered and loved for her kindness and devotion to us all.''

Bill Stevens can be reached at stevens@sptimes.com, or at (727) 869-6250.

>>biography

Lucille Ruth

Ravenscraft Baxley

Born: July 11, 1923

Died: May 2, 2011

Survivors: Three children: Dr. John Baynard Baxley III, Aiken, S.C.; Reade Baxley, Walterboro, S.C.; and Dr. Rebecca Yackel, New Port Richey.

Service: Scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at Bethel Presbyterian Church in Walterboro. Parker-Rhoden Funeral Home in Walterboro, S.C., is handling arrangements.

Lucille Ruth Baxley, founder of Pasco chapter of the League of Women Voters, dies at 87. 05/04/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 8:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Shooting sends man to hospital in St. Pete

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — Police were investigating a shooting that occurred around 4:40 p.m. on Tuesday and sent a man to the hospital.

  2. Police: Man tries to lure child with puppy in Polk County

    Crime

    Times staff

    HAINES CITY — A man was arrested Sunday after he tried to entice a young girl into his camper to view a puppy, according to police.

    Dale Collins, 63, faces a charge of luring or enticing a child under the age of 12. [Photo courtesy of the Polk County Sheriff's Office]
  3. Editorial: Coming together to reduce car thefts

    Editorials

    The simple, knee-jerk response to the juvenile car theft epidemic in Pinellas County would be to crack down on offenders with an increased police presence and stiffer sentences. Thankfully, local community leaders did not stop there. As detailed in a recent Tampa Bay Times follow-up to its 
As detailed in a recent Tampa Bay Times follow-up to its "Hot Wheels" investigation into youth car thefts, a variety of ideas from multiple directions increases the odds of actually solving the cause and not just treating the symptoms.

  4. Editorial: Floridians' health care now at risk in Washington

    Editorials

    The health care for millions of Floridians is now at risk. The U.S. Senate's dramatic vote Tuesday to begin debate on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act with no idea what will happen is a dangerous gamble with American lives and the national economy. Barring an unexpected bipartisan compromise, a handful of …

    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., dramatically returned to the Senate for the first time since his brain cancer was diagnosed and cast the key vote that enabled Vice President Mike Pence to break the 50-50 tie and allow the health care debate to proceed.
  5. Former Marine from Florida dies fighting for Kurdish militia

    ORLANDO — A former Marine who secretly traveled to Syria earlier this year to battle the Islamic State was killed while fighting for a Kurdish militia, his father said Tuesday.

    David Taylor, with his father David Taylor Sr., was killed earlier this month in Syria while fighting for a Kurdish militia.