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The Official Baldrige Blog

A Tribute to My Friend, Colleague, and Hero

In Memoriam: Photo of Jackie Beede with white lilies in a vase beside frame.
Credit: Beede Family, Roman King/Shutterstock

On October 23, 2018, Jackie Beede passed away, in the comfort of her home and family. She fought a two-year battle with cancer and many years of illness and pain, always with optimism. She made the decision in mid-September that she was no longer prolonging life but prolonging death and that she would die at home with the same courage and clarity that she brought to life and to the people and work she loved. I will miss her "fierce dedication to doing what is right" (her words and my sense of her core value), her counsel, and her friendship. She meant a lot to the Baldrige Program, the Baldrige community, and to me personally. Her physical presence is gone, but the lessons she taught us in life and while courageously approaching death will serve us all well for many years to come.

I first met Jackie when she worked for Texas Instruments in the 1990s. While those roots are in big business manufacturing, her time and love was helping small businesses. And it was her small business understanding that was very helpful to the Baldrige Program. She was my personal mentor on the unique challenges that small businesses face. That mentoring led to the first document the Baldrige Program produced for our volunteer examiners on Considerations for Reviewing Small Businesses. An updated version of this document is still a guidance document used by the Program today, although it is now focused on small organizations broadly.

Jackie served as a Baldrige examiner, judge, and alumni examiner over a period that spanned more than two decades. In addition to these "official" roles, she led two case study writing teams, participated on many site visit teams, and in 2016, when travel was difficult for her, participated on the team that did the assessment and wrote the case study scorebook for examiner training.

Just a few words about the case study writing teams Jackie led. Not only is case study writing a difficult undertaking that few people participate in even once, but the two teams she led produced landmark case studies, a small business called Landmark Dining and our first government agency case study, NuGrain Laboratories, a research laboratory in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Creating a plausible, fictitious organization is very tough; creating one for a government agency where we did not have the history of experience the Program had with business, health care, and education organizations was a monumental feat. But not too big a challenge for Jackie to willingly take on! And Jackie when you look down on us, you can still see me proudly displaying the Landmark Dining jacket you gave to everyone who worked on that 2005 case study. While not being an official part of that case study writing team, I beamed with pride when you considered my contributions worthy of a jacket. You always knew how to make other people feel special.

Photo of Jackie's sons Jake, Russell and Ray.
Credit: Beede Family

For Jackie, Baldrige was a family thing. Not only was the Baldrige community her extended family, but her husband Bruce also served as an examiner. And I can remember one year when her toddler son, Russell (now a high school senior), came along to Maryland for examiner training. He entertained us all running up and down the corridor at the end of the week when her family picked Jackie up to go home. I also remember several years ago, Jackie walking down the hall to the NIST cafeteria with me, using a cane and clearly in pain, but smiling and engaging in conversation about how lucky and pleased she was to be educating the next generation of Baldrige examiners by sharing her knowledge and wealth of experience. Of course, being Jackie, she just referred to it as sharing with newer examiners. 

Jackie's long-time friend and fellow Baldrige examiner, Denise Haynes, shared with me information from letters Jackie wrote each of her sons and her husband shortly before she passed away. While individualized, the letters had five suggestions in common:

  1. Identify and focus on what is important.
  2. Keep your sense of humor.
  3. Remember, it's not always about you (editorial comment - Jackie never made it about her, she was always helping others).
  4. Have no regrets.
  5. Have a dear friend.

These five suggestions define the way Jackie lived her life. And I am proud that I was one of her friends. One of Jackie's phrases was "Baldrige makes the world a better place." As Denise states, "Jackie really wanted to make the world a better place, one person at a time, one organization at a time, one community at a time. And the Baldrige framework was her platform for that."

Jackie certainly made my world a better place. My dear friend, Jackie, I will miss you and your ever-smiling face. You are one of my heroes. May you rest in the peace you so richly deserve.

About the author

Harry Hertz “The Baldrige Cheermudgeon”

I am Harry Hertz, the Baldrige Cheermudgeon, and Director Emeritus of the Baldrige Program. I joined the Program in 1992 after a decade in management in the analytical chemistry and chemical sciences laboratories at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the home of the Baldrige Program. I started my career at NIST (NBS) as a bench analytical chemist.

My favorite aspects of the Baldrige Program are: (1) the opportunity to interact with leading thinkers from all sectors of the U.S. economy who serve as volunteers in the Baldrige Program, who participate in the Baldrige Executive Fellows Program, and who represent Award applicants at the forefront of the continuous journey to performance excellence, and (2) the intellectual challenge of synthesizing ideas from leading thinkers and from personal research into Insights on the Road to Performance Excellence and other blogs that tackle challenges at the “leading edge of validated leadership and performance practice,” and contribute to the continuous revision of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Framework.

Outside of work I spend my time with family (including three beautiful granddaughters), exercising, baking bread, traveling, educating tomorrow’s leaders, and participating on various boards and board committees.

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What a beautiful tribute......well said.

What a wonderful tribute to our dear friend Jackie.

Harry, this is a wonderful tribute to Jackie. I am so sorry for your loss of such a dear friend and true Baldrige ambassador. I wish that I'd had the opportunity to meet her.

Thank you Harry for a wonderful tribute to Jackie. She will be missed!

Harry, thanks for your excellent elegy.

Twenty-five years ago, the first examiner team I ever serve on included Jackie Kennett-Beede and Dale Crownover. We become lifelong friends and shared a deep respect for the power of the Baldrige process to change lives, including each of our own. I will miss her unparalleled work ethic and her quest to bring fun into this process and her uproarious laughter.

Harry -- what a beautiful and well deserved tribute. I first worked with Jackie when we were Judges for TAPE. I respected her work for the Baldrige program and I respected Jackie as a human being. We will miss her. Thanks for the lovely memorial.

Wonderful tribute and a great description of Jackie's life and contributions to the Baldrige community. Her loss is felt by all of us in the family, and her contributions will continue to be felt for generations to come. Thanks for the great article.

Harry, a fitting tribute to a wonderful human being. The Baldrige program attracts good people and good people make the program all the better.

Harry, your tribute is so beautiful for such a beautiful person. Jackie was quite special and near and dear to a great number of us in the Baldrige family. Jackie's exuberance was matched by her keen intellect and passion for all things Baldrige. The Baldrige community is better for having worked with Jackie. From examiner to senior to alumni examiner, from training sessions to the Panel of Judges, her ability to make us laugh, see the best in others and help organizations grow was clear, vivid and impactful. Long-lasting and far-reaching impacts, peace my friend. Thank you for your tribute, Harry.

What a beautiful and a well deserved tribute. Jackie was my sister-in-law and we had some fun memories. Many you Rest In Peace Jackie. You will be missed but you are no longer in pain. Hugs

Thanks to everyone for your tributes to Jackie. As you all have attested, she was a wonderful and very special person.

Jackie Kennett-Beede started Alamo Colleges on their journey to winning the Baldrige. She coached the leadership team at Northwest Vista College on their applications for the QTF TAPE Award and which ended in winning the state TAPE Award in 2007. NWV's example spread to other Alamo campuses and enabled the Alamo System to earn Baldrige today. Her legacy continues to bear fruit.

Jackie and Barry Johnson are both hero’s of Texas Nameplate; particularly in our early stages. Jackie once wrote in our very first Baldrige application many paragraphs describing some various processes. I remember calling her afterwards and telling her what she had written was incorrect and we were not doing it the way she described. With her “trademarked” laugh, she responded by saying she knew we were not but we needed to perform the way she had written if we wanted to do it the Baldrige Way. As with many others of us, I listened to her and did as she had suggested. She always remained proud of us as I always remained proud of her. Super lady indeed. Thanks Harry and to all that knew her.

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