ST. PETERSBURG — By the last six months of her life, disease had badly compromised Jackie Baynard. She could not speak, could barely move or swallow. She sat in an adjustable chair in the living room and smiled or cried as others spoke.
To communicate, she pointed at letters of the alphabet.
Years earlier, the same woman had darted around obstacles like a race car driver, whipping up trips, parties and businesses.
"Her nickname was 'Snappy Jackie' because she took pictures all the time and was the party planner," said longtime friend Bob Dillinger, the Pinellas-Pasco public defender. "It was clear her mind was clear all the time. That's why this was so painful to watch."
Before a Parkinson's-like disease took away her mobility in her mid 50s, Mrs. Baynard had compiled the oddest of resumes.
Education: Bauder Fashion College, Miami.
Work experience: model, travel agent, real estate broker, entrepreneur, advocate for the elderly.
Accomplishments: Flew groups of people around the United States and Europe at minimal cost. Invented and marketed Toddlercise, an exercise kit for children. Started Basket Creations, a gift basket business. Led classes for real estate brokers. Surpassed fundraising efforts of others on her first attempt.
"She would master something, get bored and move on," said her husband, Bruce Baynard.
As a reservation agent for Northwest Airlines, Mrs. Baynard could fly her family and friends first-class. "Hey girlie," she would tell Dillinger's wife, Kay, over the phone. "Get your calendar out, because you've got to put this down." Once, in Amsterdam, Mrs. Baynard turned to her family and said, "Let's go to Paris!" They did.
More than six years ago, Mrs. Baynard noticed a change in her handwriting. It seemed to be slipping. Doctors were inconclusive. Then Mayo Clinic doctors leveled a diagnosis — progressive supranuclear palsy, a rare degenerative brain disease similar to Parkinson's — and gave her a year to live.
At 51, Mrs. Baynard had few peers for support. So she started her own group for people with Parkinson's or PSP: the Movers and Shakers of Tampa Bay.
The Baynard family led fundraising drives that pulled in $22,000 and $18,000 for the American Parkinson Disease Association.
"She was so successful at fundraising because she brought a face and personality to the disease," said Kay Dillinger, 58.
As her mobility worsened, Bruce became her nurse, hairdresser and entertainer. Saturday morning, he found her still in her living room chair. Mrs. Baynard was 57.
Andrew Meacham can be reached at (727) 892-2248 or firstname.lastname@example.org.