Adwina Jackson Baptiste always emphasized two things to her three children.
“Faith and the pursuit of knowledge,” said daughter Alicia Ayodele of New Hope. “They were important to her. She took us to church when we were kids and sang songs and she stressed education to us.”
Jackson Baptiste, of Excelsior, died May 20 from complications of COVID-19. She was 71. She tested positive for the virus on April 23.
“After two weeks, her symptoms were mild,” Ayodele said. “But in the third week, she stopped eating. In the fourth week she was gone.”
Ayodele said family members weren’t able to visit Jackson Baptiste, who was diagnosed with dementia in 2015, at her long-term assisted-living facility, but “we were able to FaceTime with her and call her so she could hear our voice even at the end. We’re glad that her hospice nurse was with her.”
Jackson Baptiste was born to Bruce Jackson and Vera Stephens on Feb. 24, 1949, in Hanover, Jamaica, a parish on Jamaica’s northwestern tip. She came to the United States in her 20s.
“She was looking for a better life and to better her circumstances,” Ayodele said. “She thought there was more opportunity in the United States.”
She settled in Brooklyn, N.Y.. and earned a degree in accounting from York College in Queens.
“She started off in banking but she knew she wanted to do something more meaningful for her,” Ayodele said. “So she switched to education.”
Jackson Baptiste earned a master’s degree in English before earning a doctorate in education from Capella University.
She left banking after working at a bank in Orlando and worked as an adjunct professor teaching English at Florida A&M in Tallahassee.
In 2007, she moved to the Twin Cities. She worked as a substitute teacher for the Minneapolis Public Schools.
According to her daughter, Jackson Baptiste had another passion.
“She loved writing poetry,” Ayodele said.
In 2009, Jackson Baptiste’s “Lifting the Cover: Through Poems and Short Stories,” was published. She also authored a textbook.
In addition to her daughter, Jackson Baptiste is survived by daughter Marjorie Cort of New Bern, N.C.; son Anthony Melbourne of Orlando; sisters Esmie Jackson of Brooklyn, N.Y. and Mervy Jackson of Hanover, Jamaica; ex-husband Arnold Baptiste of Lakeville and six grandchildren.
A service has been held.