Long-term readers of Nonprofit Issues® will recognize the name of Jennie Sikes as a regular contributor. She was a by-lined writer of Ready Reference Pages and helped edit many other articles. She was a frequent participant in our monthly webinars. She was, I believe, a participant in every one of our firm’s 27 annual “This Year in Nonprofit Law” programs, except the most recent one in November when she was too ill to attend. Unfortunately, Jennie died on January 13 after many months of battling lung cancer. She died at her home in Lexington, VA, where she had moved with her husband Bill four years ago.
Jennie was a fine lawyer. I worked with her for more than 30 years on a daily basis, sometimes an hourly basis. We routinely conferred with each other about our advice. We read each other’s draft documents. We did more public presentations together than we could count. She continued to represent clients as senior counsel even after moving to Virginia. She was excellent at her craft and provided excellent advice to her clients.
Jennie was Phi Beta Kappa at the University of North Carolina and earned an M. Ed degree at UNC. She was a Stone Scholar at Columbia Law School, and served as editor of its Journal of Law and Social Problems. She clerked for Judge Max Rosen of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals after graduation. She joined Montgomery, McCracken in 1986, became the first woman Managing Partner at the firm, and had more administrative roles than we could think of titles. She was involved with many charitable organizations over the years, particularly those involved with the arts. She served as president of the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts and the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance and served on the board of trustees of Wilkes University.
Jennie did not brag about her accomplishments. She was a kind and generous person and when you spoke with Jennie you knew you were speaking with someone who was listening. In talking about her last week when we first heard the news, a woman who had joined the firm more recently said she had not worked a lot with Jennie, but that Jennie had always been very kind to her. Not realizing that I would deflate the special feeling that Jennie had engendered, I blurted out that Jennie was that way with everybody. She was universally regarded as a wonderful person. We will miss her greatly.