Former lawmaker Jackie Young, a groundbreaking feminist who was the first woman elected vice speaker of the state House of Representatives, died Sunday at St. Francis Hospice shortly after suffering a stroke. She was 84.
State Sen. Rosalyn Baker, a longtime Maui lawmaker who served with Young in the House, said Young “was an amazing woman.”
“She was one of the early feminists, and I really think of her as a trailblazer,” said Baker, who was a member of the Women’s Legislative Caucus with Young. “She was just an incredible role model of a can-do person who works collaboratively with others and stood up for women.”
Jacqueline Eurn Hai Young was a third-generation Korean-American of Hawaii. She was a graduate of Punahou School in 1952 and obtained her bachelor’s degree from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in speech pathology and audiology.
She went on to obtain a doctorate in women’s studies and communication from Union Institute &University.
According to a written statement from her family, Young traveled the world and raised her children with her first husband, Col. Harry Daniels Jr. of Maui.
After returning to Hawaii in 1977, Young worked in the state Department of Education as a specialist in special education, and in 1985 took a position in the state superintendent’s office working on the issue of sex equity.
Her work involved implementation of the federal Title IX to seek equality in education for girls in public schools, and from 1986 to 1988 she served as chairwoman of the Hawaii Women’s Political Caucus, a bipartisan organization that sought to advance women’s issues.
Young was an outspoken abortion rights advocate, and in 1990 she filed to run as a Democrat in Windward Oahu against three-term Republican state Rep. Cam Cavasso, who that year had introduced two bills to restrict women’s access to abortion.
Young ousted Cavasso and went on to serve in the state House from 1990 to 1994 representing Waimanalo, Keolu Hills, Lanikai and portions of Kailua.
She was instrumental in founding Hale Ola, a domestic-violence shelter in Windward Oahu, and was credited with helping to protect Mount Olomana from development.
She was also co-founder and chairwoman of the Asian-Pacific Island National Caucus of Legislators, and taught at Hawaii Pacific University for many years.
Young left the state Legislature to make an unsuccessful run for lieutenant governor in 1994, losing to then-state Rep. Mazie Hirono.
She later returned to politics after a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage was proposed, and she became director of a campaign called Protect Our Constitution that worked for marriage equality.
Young was a breast cancer survivor, and that experience prompted her to take a position as an executive with the American Cancer Society, where she worked until she retired at age 79. At the time of her death, she was chairwoman of the state Judicial Selection Commission, which screens and selects nominees for state judgeships.
Young is survived by children Paula Daniels, Harry Daniels, Nani Daniels and Laura Daniels; grandchildren Claire Daniels, Will Daniels and Noelani Obermeyer; a niece; a nephew; and a grandnephew.
Arrangements are pending for a celebration of her life.