Jacquelyn Moore McNeill, 92 of West Columbia, passed away peacefully on Monday, February 13, 2023, at Lexington Medical Center. Born on July 28, 1930, in Davis Station, SC, she was a daughter of the late Mary Stukes (Richburg) and Evander Gray Stukes.
Jackie grew up in the small town of Davis Station, SC, on farmland that the family still owns. She was the baby of the family and truly loved her life on the homestead with many extended family members. After graduating as one of a class of 13 from Summerton High school, Jackie began her post-high school studies at Mary Washington College in 1947. She was already well-known and recognized for her wonderful singing voice. She transferred to the University of South Carolina two years later to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education. Jackie also began a career of performing and educating that would last her entire life and affect the lives of a multitude of others. She subsequently earned her Master’s Degree in Music Education and additional graduate study at Columbia College, Orff Instrumentarium, Fredeberg, Germany; Appalachian State University; and Ball State University.
Jackie was an incredible musician and vocalist. She was a frequent soloist and one of the founders of the SC Opera Workshop and Columbia Lyric Theater, singing lead roles in works such as “Cosi Fan Tutti,” “Carmen,” “Tales of Hoffman,” “Madame Butterfly,” and “Aida,” to name a few. She was well known for her numerous performances of “Climb Every Mountain” as the Reverend Mother in numerous performances of “The Sound of Music.” You can bet that if there was an opera, operetta, or musical showing in SC, she was likely a lead character! In fact, her three children have very fond memories of their formative years spent backstage during rehearsals and learning the music themselves simply through many repeat performances!
She celebrated the turn of the century by entering the Ms. South Carolina Senior contest, on the platform of celebrating her life and love of her vocation and avocation. Her statement, “My love of working with people and my commitment to arts education, whether teaching, performing or promoting, have permeated my life,” was her platform, and along with her amazing vocal performance, and her classic beauty, enabled her to win the title! She went on to take first runner-up in the National competition.
As a teacher, she was relentless in projecting her passion for music to her students in every possible way. She was a private vocal instructor almost her entire life but started her professional teaching career at Wardlaw Junior High School. She also taught Choral Music at Lexington High School, Northside Middle School and Springdale Elementary School, and then she was ultimately named Consultant for Fine Arts at Lexington School District Two. Her devout passion for teaching music and her deep love for her students influenced generations of future teachers, particularly in the field of music. There are very few music teachers, in the Lexington and Richland School districts especially, who have not had some touch from Jackie McNeill.
Jackie was a member of many professional organizations and was very active in all of them, holding local and national offices in many. She was a member of Music Educators National Conference, South Carolina Music Educators Association-Past President/Editor “SC Musician”, SC Alliance for Arts Education – Chair/Secretary; American Choral Directors Association; SC Art Education Association; National Education Association; SC Education Association; Palmetto State Teachers Association; SC Partners of the Americas – President; Alpha Delta Kappa Honorary Teachers Sorority.
Jackie’s influence in the music and education world was not limited to South Carolina. She spread her love of her craft wherever she traveled, whether it was to perform with the Army bands with her daughter Debra, attend Broadway shows with her son Marnie, or perform in community and church in Oregon with her daughter Mary. Everyone she met was influenced by her talent, her grace, and her professionalism.
One of her most rewarding accomplishments was her relationship with the religious societies in our community. Jackie and her family were part of the founding membership of Trinity United Methodist Church in 1960. She has been a member for the past 63 years. She began the choir and was the choir director for almost the entire time. Jackie also had a special relationship with the Jewish community in Columbia. She was hired as the soloist for the Tree of Life synagogue and remained as such for more than 50 years, a wonderful connection she was very proud of and that created lifelong friends for the entire family.
A gentle and elegant Southern lady, Jackie McNeill loved to sing, to educate, to laugh, to travel, but most of all she loved her family and her faith. She touched so many lives in her 92 years in SC, across the US, even in her world travels. All of us are lucky for having known her.
The family would especially like to honor and recognize Hope Collard, Jackie’s caregiver in the last months of her life. Jackie was thrilled when Hope made the decision to change her career and become her grandmother’s caregiver, moving from Oregon to South Carolina. All the family knows the special bond they created and appreciates Hope for everything she did to take care of her grandmother in her final months.
In addition to her parents, Jacquelyn is preceded in death by her first husband of 24 years, Marvin Heyward Moore; her second husband of 43 years, Dr. Charles Andrew McNeill; sister Maxine Stukes Edwards; her granddaughter, Jacquelyn Mayce Collard; and great-grandchildren, Louie Leonard Collard, and Lola Marie Lewis.
Jacquelyn is survived by her three children Debra Moore Kidney (Paul), Marvin Heyward Moore, Jr. (Anne), and Mary Moore Collard (Bryan). Also surviving Mrs. McNeill are her three step-children, Charlyn McNeill, Mary Sue Lewis (Mark), and Michael A. McNeill; 16 grandchildren; 27 great-grandchildren; and 2 great-great grandchildren, all of whom know they were loved “a bushel and a peck.”
A funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 5, 2023, at Trinity United Methodist Church with the Rev. John Jordan officiating. Burial will be private.
The family will receive friends at McAlister-Smith Funeral & Cremation State Street, 200 State Street, West Columbia, from 6 until 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 4, as well as for a short period immediately following the conclusion of the funeral service.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Trinity United Methodist Church or the USC School of Music.
Expressions of sympathy may be viewed or submitted online at mcalister-smith.com.
The family has entrusted McAlister-Smith Funeral and Cremation State Street with the handling of arrangements.