Frankie Jacobs Gillette, beloved aunt, friend, retired social worker and educator, entered into eternal rest on February 26, 2022, in San Francisco, California after a brief illness.
Born in Norfolk, Virginia in 1925, Frankie was the third of three daughters and a son born to the late Natalie Taylor Jacobs and Frank Walter Jacobs. In 1932, her father, a Baptist minister, was called from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama to Messiah Baptist Church in Bridgeport, Connecticut where Frankie attended local public schools. She was a graduate of Hampton University and Howard University, where she received a Master of Social Work degree.
Frankie’s social work career began with community organizations in Illinois, New Jersey and Michigan. In California, Frankie was a federal government administrator implementing War on Poverty programs operated through the US Office of Economic Opportunity/Community Services Administration.
Frankie grew up in the church and was a faithful supporter of her church home in San Francisco, Bethel A.M.E. Church. In 2010, she was honored as “Christian Woman of the Year”. Frankie was an active parishioner until her death, and was instrumental in church improvement activities, fundraising initiatives, and the installation of an elevator on the church grounds.
Frankie’s local community involvement was extensive and frequently honored. She shared her fundraising and mentoring talents freely. Notable activities included: Commissioner, San Francisco Human Rights Commission; Member, San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau; Chairperson, San Francisco-Abidjan Sister City Committee; and Trustee, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco. She was most proud to be a founding Board Director of the Museum of the African Diaspora (MOAD).
On the national level, Frankie was National President (1983-1987) of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc. During her tenure, Frankie was recognized by Ebony magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential Black Americans” for 1984. Frankie also held life memberships in the NAACP, the National Council of Negro Women, the Links, Inc., and Delta Sigma Theta, Inc.
Frankie was preceded in death by her parents, three siblings and her loving husband and true soulmate of 46 years, Maxwell C. Gillette. Married in 1976 by distinguished theologian, Howard Thurman, they lived their lives guided by his admonition to “Ask what makes you come alive and go do it.”
She will be lovingly missed by her two nieces, Renata Henry, and Karen Sarjeant (Larry), her grandnieces Kiera Henry, Nicole Henry, and Shani Sarjeant, and her grandnephew, Omari Sarjeant, and several nieces and nephews in the Bay Area and throughout the world.
A memorial service will be held at Bethel AME Church, 916 Laguna Street, San Francisco (415-921-4935) on March 26, 2022, at 1 p.m. Safety protocols will be observed; masks and proof of vaccination are required. The service will be live streamed on FaceBook and YouTube under the name “Bethel AMEC San Francisco”
Please consider memorial contributions in Frankie’s honor to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and/or the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco.