In a previous life, I was energy secretary for Bill Clinton during his first term as Governor. In October 1979, our first daughter Rebecca was born at New Baptist Hospital. After a few months, we needed some babysitting help, and my deputy, Cherry Duckett, said that her daughter Stacy would be happy to oblige. She was about 16 at the time.
So we met this young woman, who was already showing the depth of character that would characterize her for years to come. Inevitably polite and kind in that Southern kind of way, she also offered a deep intelligence and curiosity about the world, and was an excellent conversationalist, even as a teenager. She also displayed a marvelous irreverence about the world that was refreshing and very funny.
Her primary part-time job (beyond babysitting) was serving frozen yogurt at the outlet of a start-up company called TCBY. She was working at the company's first store, in west Little Rock's Marketplace Shopping Center. According to this story, she was the first TCBY employee not a member of the founder's family, the Hickingbothams, when she began working at the store in high school. "Duckett soon moved to the corporate office, and she worked at TCBY full-time while getting her law degree."
"It's not something you recommend for everybody," she said at age 35. "It requires self-discipline and focus."
Something she had in abundance.
I guess the family recognized her talent after she received a law degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law, as she "rose in ranks to become a vice president and assistant general counsel to the yogurt giant."
The article also notes:
Outside the office, Duckett has served as president of the Home Team, Youth Home Inc.'s volunteer organization. She served on the 1997 race committee for Race for the Cure. She also teaches Sunday school at Trinity United Methodist Church.
I followed all this from afar and then was pleasantly surprised to find that our lives were again overlapping. After I joined the board of the New England electric power grid, I learned that she was general counsel to the Southwest Power Pool, having joined the organization in 2000. As noted here, "she joined SPP as an attorney in the transmission and regulatory policy group, quickly assumed project management responsibilities, was named Director, Corporate Affairs, and served as General Counsel" before taking her last position.
We had a chance for short reunion a couple of years ago at an inter-regional meeting. At the time, her cancer had let up a bit, and she was in good spirits and cogent, but she knew it was going to come back. Mainly, she wanted to talk about how Rebecca, her former charge, was doing. When I showed her the pictures, she beamed with pride.
My condolences to her lovely family and all who have had the pleasure of her company during an all-too-short life.