Note: This is the first in a series of All-Star portraits celebrating Martin County Democrats who have made lasting contributions to the Martin County Democratic Party. A conversation with Jackie took place in her home in August 2021 and is the basis for this article.
It was the summer of 2000. Jackie’s partner Bruce had decided it was time to retire and he had his sights set on Jensen Beach. Having been there to visit his parents over the years during their retirement, he had come to love the small town feel of Jensen Beach, the warm weather, and all the fishing opportunities it offered.
Jackie, who was enjoying a successful educational sales career in New York, wasn’t exactly ready to retire, but she was in love and wanted to be with Bruce. Though she had never even been to Jensen Beach herself, she agreed to move to this foreign place. At least it had a beach nearby. They drove down together to house hunt in July 2000 and ultimately chose the first house they saw – the house with the great water view of pool and pond. They moved in during Labor Day weekend. And thus began her life in Martin County.
Brooklyn: The Formative Years
Jackie quickly surmised that life in Jensen was drastically different from her life in New York. After all, Jackie had been a Brooklyn girl through and through. Born in Brooklyn in 1934 to Julius and Flo Fabrizio, Jackie grew up in Brooklyn, went to Midwood High School in Brooklyn, graduated from Brooklyn College where she earned her bachelors and master’s in education, and began her teaching career in elementary education in Brooklyn at PS 78. After marrying her college sweetheart Hank Trancynger and having her two children Christopher and Julie, Jackie left teaching to be a fulltime mom and the family eventually moved to Queens. Later Jackie re-entered the workforce in educational sales and thrived in that line of work until her retirement to Jensen Beach.
An only child, Jackie recalls a few episodes from her early life that had long lasting effects. When she was in elementary school, her teacher had asked each of the children to write a story. After reading their responses, the teacher seemed impressed with Jackie’s story and she asked Jackie to read it aloud to the class. For those who know Jackie today this will be quite surprising, but back then, on that day, what Jackie did was sit in her chair and cry… and cry… refusing to read her story. In spite of the teacher’s repeated exhortations for her to read it, she never did. She was mortified by this ordeal. That night Jackie went home and reflected on this episode and resolved that she would never again back down like that. Ever. She promised herself that from that day forward she would speak up, be proud, and be bold—a mantra that has served her well ever since.
Jackie also remembers the time when she first became aware of politics. Jackie’s father worked for the city of New York and, as was the custom, he was a registered Democrat and a member of the local Democratic Club. She learned, though, that he was a Democrat in name only – a DINO! This was made explicitly clear when FDR died in 1945. Jackie recounts that she went outside and shouted for all in the neighborhood to hear, “Hooray!! FDR is dead!!” mimicking her father’s gleeful reaction inside. She was quickly scolded by her parents – after all, they lived in a predominately Democratic neighborhood -- and was told not to give away her father’s political allegiance – that they were actually “secret” Republicans!
The turning point in Jackie’s evolution to Democrat occurred in high school. During those years, she began to meet friends who identified as Democrat and she liked them, liked the way they thought, liked what they believed. After that, there was no turning back. In fact, it was during her time at Brooklyn College that she attended her first protest. In June 1953 during the McCarthy era, the Rosenbergs were executed for conspiracy to commit espionage and Jackie was one of many who protested those death sentences as cruel and unusual punishment, especially since the two Rosenberg children would be left without parents.
Getting Acquainted with Martin County
Having moved to Jensen, Jackie knew after that Labor Day weekend in 2000 she needed to meet people and make friends. Sure, walks along the beach were wonderful, but even back then, she knew she wanted to be around Democrats and so she soon contacted the DEC to meet people and to work to elect Al Gore over George Bush. There was no Democratic Club in those days, only the DEC. She eventually met Louise and Bob Cunha and they, along with Barbara and Richard Learned, got together to form the Democratic Club. She has since met many close friends through her active involvement with the DEC, Democratic Club, Women’s Club, and Environmental Caucus.
Ever since moving to Jensen, Jackie’s primary interests have been on limiting growth and development and safeguarding Martin’s unique environment. She soon became acquainted with such well-known local environmentalists as Ginny Sherlock and Maggie Hurchalla. She learned from them and others. She also met Donna Melzer from the Martin County Conservation Alliance and became involved with this organization as well. In fact, in the early 2000’s, Jackie became so active in the community that she was secretary of the Democratic Club, secretary of her HOA, and secretary of the Conservation Alliance -- all at the same time. Yes, she was busy in her retirement!
20+ Years of Activism
It was with this dogged determination for limiting growth and protecting the environment that Jackie attended numerous BOCC and City of Stuart Commission meetings over the years—always following her mantra of speaking up and being bold. She became quite well known by these local officials, in part due to her forthrightness, and they no doubt learned they needed to hear her out—whether it was about keeping Martin's 4-story building height limit, adhering to the existing county comp plan, denying various housing or business developments in sensitive areas, banning plastic straws and glyphosate, and a host of other causes. Fellow activists began to refer to her as “The Queen” due to the respect she garnered by her brand of outspoken activism.
For the past 20+ years, Jackie has been an active and highly regarded member of Martin County Democrats. Whether campaigning for Democratic candidates…speaking out against toxic Lake O discharges…protesting for women’s rights…helping to form the Martin County Democratic Environmental Caucus and acting as its first Chair…repeatedly appearing before the BOCC and Stuart commissioners to demand they save our wetlands, protect our environment, and limit growth…or supporting the DEC in its various endeavors, Jackie has been a fixture and an inspiration to many fellow Martin Democrats who have admired her principled steadfastness, boldness, and quick wit.
Today during these troubling times of pandemic, Trumpism, rampant growth in the area, and accelerating effects from climate change, Jackie says her advice to younger Martin County Democrats is this: Be active. Support the DEC in their pursuits. Regularly attend BOCC and City of Stuart meetings and speak up for low growth and the environment. We may live in a county where Republicans outnumber us, she says, but we must still do our part to promote our values and make our voices heard.
As her gaze wanders off into the distance beyond her pool and pond -- perhaps her mind harking back to that transformative school day when she cried and did not stand up to read her story aloud in class – she emphatically states that all Martin County Democrats must come together and Show Up! Stand Tall! Be Bold! Speak Up!
Thank you, JackieT, for all your years of outspoken activism here in Martin County and for your support of Martin County Democrats. We appreciate you and acknowledge you as a Martin County Democrat All-Star!