Jess McVey

  • Wednesday September 22, 2010
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February 12, 1918 - June 28, 2010

Jess McVey, who liked to be called McVey, is described by her family as a tomboy, daughter, sister, sailor, wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, organic gardener, nature lover, librarian, fisher, free thinker, civil rights activist, world traveler, anti-war activist, feminist, hippy, philatelist, forester, rock hound, lover, lesbian, unique artist, sculptor, painter, AIDS volunteer, LGBT activist, environmental activist, and friend.

McVey was one of the first volunteers in the initial AIDS ward at San Francisco General Hospital and helped to develop their volunteer program.

Before settling in San Francisco, McVey lived on women's land in Oregon and in California and traveled around the country helping to organize the older women's movement. She was active in gatherings of the Older Women's Network (OWN), which was vital to the creation of Old Lesbians Organizing for Change (OLOC).  She was committed to promoting a positive view of aging, activism, and independence for old women and was uncompromising in her dedication to women's liberation.

She also felt a powerful identification with Native Americans.  One of her favorite activities was a great roaring fire on the beach by the ocean, whether for her raku pottery or for a picnic.

McVey was an activist and a loving supporter to friends and family at all times. With her fierce concern for the earth, she educated everyone around her to be aware and care about ecology and the environment. Her art, which has been widely exhibited and featured in a number of publications, became focused on the current risk and damage to all of nature, especially to fish and humans.

For over ten years McVey participated in an OLOC support circle with eight others in San Francisco, sharing the experiences, feelings, choices, and challenges of living fully until death. In that group she announced that when she was dying, she wanted to have her bed in the middle of a forest & full of lesbians.  Her OLOC Circle didn't quite make that happen, but they were nearby and will always cherish and miss her.