Guest Columnist

The incredible legacy of Linn County's first female supervisor, Jean Oxley

Cedar Rapids, city of. Linn County (Co.) Office Buildings. Girl Scouts (from left) Brandy Boeck, Rachel Ong and Andrea L
Cedar Rapids, city of. Linn County (Co.) Office Buildings. Girl Scouts (from left) Brandy Boeck, Rachel Ong and Andrea LeHew (Le Hew) conduct a Linn County supervisor’s meeting Thursday with Supervisors Joe Rinas, Jean Oxley and Ken Schriner. Area Girl Scouts celebrated the organization’s 75th birthday Thursday by becoming public officials for a day in the Linn County and Cedar Rapids governments. March 12, 1987.

Jean Oxley, our beloved grandmother, was the first female elected county supervisor in Linn County and impacted many in the area. We are saddened with the passing of our grandma, but as we go through her awards, newspaper clippings, and photos we see what an impact she had in the community. Jean cared greatly for her rural neighbors as well as her city friends during her tenure in office. As she retired from the Linn County Board of Supervisors in 1996, she said that she got to see a lot of the dreams she had come true. Jean loved to be with her family, whether it was spending time with her grandchildren, talking politics and traveling with her husband Myron, or playing bridge with her friends. She was also a very proud University of Iowa graduate and avid Hawkeye fan.

Our family is extremely grateful for the outpouring of support during this time! The stories and memories people have shared, via social media and phone calls, have helped our family celebrate her in this time of social distancing. Jean was a fierce advocate for the underserved and undervalued in the community. We’d like to share some of the comments that we’ve received that represent her time in office.

“She understood social equity and the need for services long before it was a good thing to do!”

“She was a source of inspiration and support for me as we worked together to provide services for people with mental illness or developmental disabilities. I cannot imagine having done my job in another county with supervisors who were not dedicated to serving those less fortunate, as Jean was.”

“Jean was as good a public servant as County Supervisor as I have ever known. She was sharp, focused, and dedicated to her leadership role — but she had a big heart for the citizens of Linn County.”

As her grandchildren, we continue to learn more about her achievements and continue to live her values. We thank everyone for helping celebrate the life of a dedicated public servant and a wonderful grandmother. A private service was held with the immediate family and a public celebration of life will be held at a later date.

Breanna, Brittney and Braden Oxley are Jean Oxley’s grandchildren.

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