Jessie Heinzman

More Information

  • Born: Jan. 10, 1915
    Died: Dec. 14, 2012
    Survived by: Children, Barbara Wilson, Patricia Neu, Ettamarie Peterson, D. Michael Cullivan and Kathleen Quick; 10 grandchildren; 18 great-grandchildren; two great-great-grandchildren
    Services: Private
    Remembrances: In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to any educational organization or library or to the League of Women Voters.

Obituary: Jessie Heinzman was longtime Democratic activist

Published: Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 4B

Jessie Heinzman, a longtime Democratic activist and retired education consultant, died Dec. 14 at 97, her family said.

Mrs. Heinzman, who voted for every Democratic presidential candidate from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama, was a lifelong political junkie. Passionate about civic issues, she belonged to the League of Women Voters for many years and ran for Sacramento City Council in 1947.

As secretary of the Sacramento County Democratic Central Committee, Mrs. Heinzman traveled with California party bigwigs to the national convention that nominated Harry Truman for president in 1948. She recalled backroom dealings on the long train ride to Philadelphia as James Roosevelt, the eldest son of President Franklin Roosevelt, tried to persuade her and other delegates to support another candidate.

"Jimmy Roosevelt and some of the others were real nice to Jessie and Pat Brown and courted them hard," said her daughter Barbara Wilson. "But she and Pat Brown knew they were going to vote for Truman."

Mrs. Heinzmen spent almost 40 years in civil service, mostly in state government. She worked as an education consultant and chief speechwriter for state schools Superintendent Wilson C. Riles. She retired in 1974 to Mendocino County for about 10 years and served briefly as a Potter Valley school superintendent.

Jessie Virginia Nay was born in 1915 in Lodi and moved with her family to Citrus Heights, where her parents ran a small dairy and struggled to support three children during the Great Depression. She received a $50 scholarship award as San Juan High School valedictorian in 1932, but the bank failed before she could cash the check.

She transferred from Sacramento Junior College to UC Berkeley but left in 1935 to marry Joseph Cullivan, an editor at the Sacramento Union newspaper. They had five children before the marriage ended in divorce.

She married Lewis Heinzman, a McClatchy Co. broadcaster, in 1954. She earned bachelor's and master's degrees in public administration from California State University, Sacramento.

A widow since 2003, Mrs. Heinzman lived most recently in Elk Grove.

She was a founding member of the Sacramento Book Collectors Club and belonged to Friends of the Library. A lively and active woman who learned to fly a plane years ago in the Civil Air Patrol, she traveled to many countries and was preparing for a Panama Canal cruise at the time of her death.

"If you said you were going to England or somewhere, she had her passport out and was ready to go with you," her daughter said. "She loved to travel, and we always did it as a family."

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Read more articles by Robert D. Dávila



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