Jill Dinwiddie

January 7, 2021

CHARLOTTE – Jill Dinwiddie fought for women’s rights, and to help us see the dignity in others regardless of class, color, culture or faith. She died on January 7, 2021 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 80, principled and passionate until the end.

Jill was born in Detroit on Nov. 23, 1940, the daughter of Robert and Jane Dinwiddie Jr. Her curiosity about the world beyond her own came from her mother, who was always engaged in the community. Jill’s heart and mind were further broadened by her family hosting a Swedish exchange student, then spending four months of her junior year in high school as an American Field Service exchange student in Turkey. She lived with a Muslim family and learned to appreciate another culture, an experience that shaped what was to come.

After graduating in 1963 from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Communications, she took her first job teaching kindergarten at a U.S. Defense Department school in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. The work that followed was part of a journey, reflecting Jill’s calling to lift up the importance of international education, and advancing women’s rights in the political arena and beyond. Among her jobs: Director of the International Center at UNC-Chapel Hill and University of Texas; Vice President of Public Policy for the Association of International Educators (NAFSA); Director of Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Northern California office; and Executive Director of the N.C. Council for Women. She cared deeply about access to reproductive health care, accurate sex education, curbing domestic violence and electing women to public office. That last pursuit was fueled by the 1991 U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Clarence Thomas, and Anita Hill’s charge of sexual harassment.

She served as Board Chair of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, among the three national boards, three multistate boards, four statewide boards, 17 local boards and four political campaigns on which she served.
Jill lived in Germany, Rochester and Syracuse (N.Y.), Evanston (Ill.), Washington, D.C., Chapel Hill and San Francisco. She and her husband, Bernie Hargadon, moved to Charlotte in 2003 to be closer to their daughters, Penni and Louise. Throughout their almost 30 year marriage, they travelled the world, enjoyed music and art and supported causes near and dear to their hearts

Jill “retired” in 2011 if you can call it that. She co-founded the eNOugh campaign to raise awareness of domestic violence long before the movement rose to the forefront. She remained active in the cause through the Jamie Kimble Foundation for Courage, who recently named their Courage to Soar award for high schools after Jill. Among her proudest achievements was helping establish a new Planned Parenthood Health Center in Charlotte. After being named as 2015 Woman of the Year in Charlotte, she told a reporter that the older she got, the bolder she got in pursuit of the causes closest to her heart.

Early on, Jill decided that life is worth living when you give back. Mission accomplished!

Jill is survived by two daughters from a first marriage – Kirsten Garrett of Dallas and Penni Stritter of Charlotte; four grandchildren – Savannah and Steven Garrett, Sam and Will Reynolds; and an older sister, Sue McDowell and her husband, Tom, of Pompano Beach. Fla. She is also survived by four stepchildren from Bernie’s first marriage – Geoff Hargadon and his wife, Patricia La Valley, of Somerville, Ma., Bob Hargadon and his wife, Tracy Kellum, of Seattle, Dave Hargadon and his wife, Suzi, of Woodland, Calif., and Louise Hargadon of Charlotte. She also loved her 10 step-grandchildren – Ashley Johnston, Stephanie Rogers, Mia Tankoos, Courtney Button, Ellis, Joseph, Trevor and Michael Hargadon, and Lauren and Robert O’Neill and four great grandchildren.

The family is deeply grateful for the love and care shown by Hospice and Palliative Care of the Carolinas Region, special caregivers Beth Arcilesi and Maxine Daniels, and “adopted” daughter Dr. Susan Bliss.

A private service to celebrate her life will be at 3:00pm on Thursday, January 21 at First Presbyterian Church in uptown Charlotte. Due to COVID restrictions, the service will be streamed on the church website, www.firstpres-charlotte.org/funerals.

A gift in Jill’s memory can be made to Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, 100 South Boylan Ave, Raleigh, NC 27603; Jamie Kimble Foundation for Courage, 1850 E. Third St., Suite 110, Charlotte, NC 28204; Dinwiddie Family Scholarship at American Field Service, One Whitehall St., Second floor, New York, N.Y. 10004; or Hospice and Palliative Care of the Carolinas Region, PO Box 28247, Charlotte, NC 28247.

Arrangements are in the care of Kenneth W. Poe Funeral & Cremation Service, 1321 Berkeley Ave., Charlotte, NC 28204; (704) 641-7606. Online condolences can be shared at www.kennethpoeservices.com.

Share your memories & condolences


  • Mike Daisley

    Thank you for livestreaming the private service yesterday for Jill at 1st Pres uptown. It captured so well, I thought, what was for me always the essence of her -- full of joy, pleasant laughter and determination. My memory of Jill will always be that of a strong, intelligent, articulate woman who exuded an inner passion for her many good causes.

    This community will miss her terribly.

  • Judge Kimberly Best

    I first met Jill and Bernie while moving into the Ratcliffe in 2007. They stopped by and introduced themselves. Of course, Jill noticed my Michigan paraphernalia. Not only was she a fellow Wolverine but a fellow Detroiter and Stag. Jill grew up in my neighborhood, attended my high school, Mackenzie, and then went on to attend the University of Michigan.
    Jill, became an instant supporter of my campaign to become District Court Judge. She gave me valuable advice. Jill was about the business of Women, ALL Women, fulfilling their dreams. Detroit groomed, Mackenzie prepared and the University of Michigan refined this amazing Charlotte gem!
    Thank you Jill Dinwiddie! I know you’re in heaven rejoicing at the inauguration of the first African American and female Vice President, Kamala Harris!
    Family, I pray you comfort during this time.
    Rest In Peace!

  • Becky Veazey

    I knew Jill 1972-75 while an American student living in the International Student Dorm at UNC. I wanted to share with her family and friends how much I appreciated the work Jill did, the care she showed, the degree to which she went far beyond the job description to help build community, enhance cultural education, and provide mature and compassionate guidance to those of us who were in a less mature stage of life. Jill was a beautiful person and wonderful roll model for me as an undergraduate student. My deepest condolences on her loss.

  • edward yee

    /am too shocked to hear about a high school classmate. She left us with a lot of great memories as a sparkler in sports, the classroom!, but more in her extracurricular activities as a leader and great friend to everyone. That may have been one reason she was selected as a foreign exchange student from Cody High School, a sought after pledge for sororities at the U of Michigan. Then like that She was gone but I am pleased to find out she made a good life with lots of conriibutions Nice live Jill!

  • Mel & Eulada Watt

    Jill & Bernie were among the most wonderful & thoughtful people we ever had the honor of meeting. We loved them & share in the family’s loss. We are comforted by our knowledge that they are back together again.

  • Janet Dalton Dickinson

    My heart hurts for this loss. But soon causes a pause to consider her loving and active friendship. She will always be tempered for being a real woman of purpose. May she and Bernie now be at peace. What a delightful couple❤️??‍♂️

  • Heather Cheshire

    Hello. I just read the article in the Charlotte Observer about Ms Dinwiddie and Ms Dinwiddie’s obituary here and I am sorry for your loss. What a woman! What fun and how interesting to have had her in your lives. I wish I had known her. I could have learned so much. Again, I am sorry for your loss.

  • Kristin Heidkamp

    I had the chance to meet Jill in 2017 through work on a political campaign and just loved her from the minute I met her. She was smart, principled and cared about doing good in the world. I am so sad to hear about her passing but in awe of the amazing work she did on this Earth. Prayers to her family as they grieve her loss.