Jacqueline “Jackie” was born in England in 1931.  Fascinated by the long history around her – from the Stonehenge to the Stone circles, Jackie developed an appreciation for the past that matured into a desire to one day discover a piece of history herself.  

In 1950, Jackie began training as a nurse in England.  Seven years later, Jackie and her husband moved to the United States, where Jackie earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees while raising her children.  

While a dedicated nurse practitioner and a devoted mother of four, Jackie traveled as often as possible, insatiably curious about the world and always ready to explore the unknown. On a trip to Mexico, she and her husband stood at the top of the Mexican pyramids and surveyed the chaos of the jungle below.  Jackie recalled that it looked as though humans “haven’t even begun to explore.” She explored the Mediterranean with her sister, and on another trip, even saw the Egyptian pyramids.

After her husband passed away, Jackie moved to Brookdale Freedom Village Senior Living in Florida, where she continued to serve others.  Though professionally retired from the medical field, she is always eager to help her fellow residents – once leaping out of her bed, quite literally, after a 6 a.m. call from a neighbor who couldn’t breathe.  She sees her ability to help others as her duty and continued to volunteer at a local emergency room even after she suffered a minor stroke. “Don’t slow down, because you only live once. Enjoy it,” Jackie said.

On June 11, 2018, Wish of a Lifetime and Brookdale Senior Living were thrilled to send Jackie on an archaeological dig at the Gamble Plantation Historic State Park.  The University of South Florida Department of Anthropology conducted the live excavation and aimed to uncover artifacts to illuminate the rich and dark past of the plantation grounds and foster community awareness about its local history.

Jackie joined friends from her community and students from USF at the excavation site.  She watched history unfold before her eyes as each building, field and structure unearthed traces of the daily struggle and perseverance of those who were forced to work and live at the plantation.  It was quite the meticulous process, as Jackie explained, “You can’t just dig because you might break something. You go inch by inch so it takes a lot of people and time.”

“I found some pieces of pottery and small fragments of glass and a medicine bottle probably from the 1880s. It was on the news,” Jackie said, “It was very exciting.”  

It truly was a unique experience for the ever-curious Jackie, and a wonderful reminder to us that you are never too old to make a discovery.

A special thank you to Diane Wallman and the USF Anthropology students.

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