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Jacquelyn CaoloDecember 1, 1923 ~ September 16, 2017 (age 93)
Jacquelyn (“Miss Jackie”) Caolo, 93, Navy wife and beloved mother, renowned children’s water safety teacher and accomplished artist died on Saturday evening September 16, 2017, with her children at her bedside. Miss Jackie enjoyed the day and night loving care of her children at all times throughout the entire summer. Against great odds, her fighting spirit carried her onward and reflected her Scottish will to live.
“Miss Jackie”, as she was known for over 60 years, taught water safety in her backyard swimming pool in Sanford to more than 10,000 children over forty years. Five days a week from early morning to late afternoon, the constant stream of children came to “Miss Jackie’s Swim Place” to learn how to be safe in and around the water but they left with a sense of confidence, respect for the water and a love of Miss Jackie and her special way with young children.
In the 1960’s, Miss Jackie gave free water safety lessons to many children in President Kennedy’s Head Start program for disadvantaged youth. In 1996 Miss Jackie produced an educational and entertaining one-hour children’s water safety video and DVD called “Miss Jackie’s Swim Place with Sally Seal” that received a Telly Award which honors excellence in video and television across all screens. Miss Jackie distributed countless copies of her video to children and their parents over the next twenty years. Among the thousands of children who have experienced Miss Jackie, many have been able to avoid an otherwise tragic accident and live to have wonderful and successful lives. Some of Miss Jackie’s young swimmers grew up to be Navy Seals, Blue Angels pilots, major league football and baseball stars, and prominent dancers at Disney World and on Broadway. Miss Jackie has been called “a true Sanford treasure” and her legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of so very many who shared their time in the water with her.
Upon reaching middle age, Jackie developed into an extraordinarily talented self-taught artist. Serene and tranquil describe the mood and emotion of Jackie’s paintings of Nature’s beautiful subjects and her life-long love of all its gifts. Her love of Florida beaches, surf, palm trees, flowers and other natural beauty is reflected in so many of Jackie’s paintings. She grew exotic tropical plants, bountiful fruit trees and glorious flowers that made her yard a flourishing garden paradise and gave her inspiration for many of her vibrant paintings. Even while in the hospital, Jackie was creating numerous colorful palm tree paintings as gifts for many of the hospital staff.
As a lover of the performing dance arts, Jackie formed The Betty Williams Foundation in 1986 as a tribute to her mother to provide annual scholarships to outstanding and deserving young dancers. She attended numerous recitals for many years and was always the last to leave cast parties after performances.
Jackie’s mother, Betty (“Malla”) Wilson, spent her childhood at Maple Cottage, I North Street, in Sterling, Scotland on the river Firth of Forth in the shadow of Sterling Castle and the Church of the Holy Rude. Jackie’s grandmother would leave a candle in the window at night for her sea captain husband to see as he sailed into port. Malla met Jack Williams with the U. S. Merchant Marine at a church service in Edinburgh and became engaged several weeks later to then sail to America. Jackie was born in Wichita Falls, Texas December 1, 1923. After the 1926 hurricane that devastated Miami, Jackie’s father moved the family to Hollywood, Florida to help rebuild from the storm damage and where Jackie grew up by the beach and her beloved ocean. Jackie graduated as the “Most Popular Girl” in the South Broward High School Class of 1941 and when gasoline was 12 cents a gallon, a new car cost $850 and the average cost of a new house was $4,075.
Jackie met her life-long love, Michael Caolo, a U. S. Navy serviceman from Brooklyn, New York on the palm tree lined boardwalk on Hollywood Beach and, after a brief courtship a few months before the attack on Pearl Harbor, he proposed marriage to her by telephone from Navy Pensacola Flight School. Jackie married Mike on August 17, 1942, and always felt great pride in her 62 years of marriage. After Jackie and Mike served their last tour of their 20 years of Navy service at NAS Kingsville, Texas, they retired from the Navy in 1958 and bought a new home in Pinecrest Estates in Sanford, Florida. Jackie saw her three sons Mike Jr., Jack and Mark graduate from the University of Notre Dame. Her daughter Bonnie graduated from the University of Florida and daughter Susan graduated from the University of Tennessee. Together with her husband, Jackie was involved with many volunteer projects through her children’s schools as well as the community of Sanford itself.
Jackie Caolo was preceded in death by her parents, Jack Williams and Betty Williams, and her two sisters, Betty Jo James and Sandy Doddridge. She is survived by her three sons, Michael Jr. and Mark of Dallas, her son Jack of Sanford, her two daughters, Bonnie Collins and Susan Boot Caolo of Atlanta, Georgia, and her favorite niece, Amy Doddridge, and her many other nieces and nephews as well as her seven grandchildren: Caroline Caolo Mabry, Mark Collins, Dotte Collins, Michael Boot, Patrick Boot, Houston Davis and Joe Davis. Jackie is also survived by her beloved brother-in-law, Vincent Caolo as well as nieces and nephews of South Haven, Michigan and his lovely daughter Louise in Chicago, as well as her daughter-in-law Kim Caolo, wife of Mark Caolo, and her son-in-law Carl Collins, husband of Bonnie Collins, as well as her special Northern Ireland cousin, Graham Wilson, his wife, Kaye, and their two daughters, Susan and Linda with their three children each. Miss Jackie is survived by her three great-grandchildren in Atlanta, Dotte Collins’ daughter, Austin, and Mark and Rachel Collins’ sons, Liam and Callum.
At the final resting place she always wanted, Jackie will be with her husband, Michael, at Arlington National Cemetery. Jackie’s children will be in attendance accompanied by Scottish bagpipes playing “Amazing Grace” and the “Notre Dame Fight Song”. Jackie was a loyal supporter of Notre Dame and cheered The Fighting Irish every football season.
In lieu of flowers, friends are invited to contribute to the Michael & Jackie Caolo Scholarship c/o The University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana, 46556 or to The Betty Williams Foundation c/o Michael Caolo Jr. at 3205 University Park Lane, Irving, Texas 765062.
A Memorial Mass for Jackie Caolo will be on Saturday, December 2, 2017, at 11:00 A.M. at All Souls Catholic Church Historic Chapel located at 800 South Oak Avenue in Sanford, Florida.