July 2014

Jerrie M. Meadows (1925 - 2014)

Political activist and former De Haro Street resident Jerrie M. Meadows passed away peacefully in her Emeryville home on May 29. She was 88. Born in 1925, to Herschel and Sonya Silverstone, Meadows helped Enola Maxwell become the executive director of the Potrero Hill Neighborhood House. Even after she moved to Berkeley in 1972 she stayed connected to Potrero Hill. Allen Meadows, her second husband, was a NABE board member until recently. 

“She was a real activist,” said her daughter Susan Yanow. According to her son, Danny Yanow, his mother never stopped believing that the world could be made a better place. 

Meadows married Harold Yanow in 1946. The partnership produced Susan and Danny, who were raised on the Hill. Both attended Patrick Henry Elementary School, the campus of which is now occupied by Downtown High School.

Meadows was a member of the Communist Party until that ideology grew out of favor in the United States in the 1950s. But she remained a lefty at heart. Danny said his mother knew many people on Potrero Hill from her days in the Party. He said his mother was a “dreamer,” which led her to get involved in social justice issues, such as the African-American Civil Rights Movement. In the 1960s Meadows was arrested during “sit-ins at the Cadillac Agency and Palace Hotel in San Francisco,” according to an obituary published in Jweekly.com. She spent two weeks in the San Francisco County Jail on a trespassing charge. 

Meadows remained politically active throughout her life. As she aged she’d tell Susan that the latest campaign would be her last. But within weeks after the conversation Meadows would be spending hours on another cause. Before her death she worked to elect President Barak Obama, “the fulfillment of a lifelong dream,” said Danny. But it’d be his mother’s last major campaign.  On June 5 both the California Senate and Assembly adjourned in memory of Meadows.

“She loved to travel,” Danny said. “She was on every inhabited continent.” Her travels took her to, among other places, Peru, Costa Rica, France, Spain, Portugal and South Africa in the post-apartheid era. She traveled with her children, alone, and with Danny’s two daughters, Lucy and Hannah. 

Surviving her are her husband Allen, Susan, Daniel, and granddaughters Lucy Yanow and Hannah Yanow. The family will hold a celebration of Meadows’ life on July 19, and is asking those interested in attending to get in touch with a family member. 

The Access Women’s Health Justice Fund and the Potrero Hill Neighborhood House Youth Fund are accepting donations in memory of Meadows. 


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