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Sandra Laureen Jenkins

Nov 16, 2018

Sandra Laureen Jenkins, retired lawyer, died due to complications from pancreatic cancer on Nov. 11, 2018 at the Hospice of the Panhandle in Kearneysville. She was 79 years old.

Jenkins moved to Shepherdstown in 2005 after a career in public service. Upon receiving her undergraduate degree she taught high school in the Toledo Ohio school system and in Germany for the U.S. Department of Defense. Impelled by the women’s movement of the 1970s and her own perception of new opportunities, Jenkins returned to the states and attended law school. After serving as an intern at the Municipal Court of Common Pleas of Toledo, Ohio, she moved to Washington, D.C., where she spent the balance of her career at the Maritime Administration. She retired as Chief of Litigation.

In 1973, while at the Maritime Administration, Jenkins recruited the first class of women to be admitted to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point. That year, it had been determined that no statutory change was required for Kings Point to admit women. All eight women recruited went on to graduate from the Academy. In 1974, following the Kings Point success Congress opened all military academies by statute.

Working along side Betty Friedan and Ellie Smeal, Jenkins served on the Board of the National Organization for Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund. This group served as the lead advocate group for Title IX, which passed into law on June 23, 1972. As a result, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded for participating in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Jenkins was born on April 6, 1939, in Fremont, Ohio. She was the only child of Charles and Dymple Jenkins. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago, master’s degree from Vanderbilt University and her JD from the University of Toledo.

In Shepherdstown, Jenkins attended the Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church. She was a charter member of Women Investing in Shepherd University, where she served on the Grants Committee. She served on the Shepherdstown New Town Hall Building Commission, and was a member of The East Enders.

Survivors include her spouse, Mary C. Bell, of Shepherdstown; brother-in-law and sister-in-law, William Rutledge Bell and Margaret Raia Bell, Navarre, Florida; and cousin, Rosemary Graham, Davenport, Iowa.

Memorial services will be conducted on Dec. 1, 2018 at 3 p.m. at Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church, with Rev. Bill Sitterly officiating. A reception will follow.

Gifts in memory of Sandra Laureen Jenkins can be made to: Briggs Animal Adoption Center, 3731 Berryville Pike, Charles Town, WV 25414.