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Published: Saturday, 8/11/2007

Woman advocated for vets exposed to Agent Orange

Jackie LaVoy, 37, an advocate for Vietnam veterans who traced their illnesses to Agent Orange exposure and who also was a director of a national group that recognizes those veterans, died yesterday in Toledo Hospital from complications of breast cancer and leukemia.

Mrs. LaVoy of West Toledo was an Ohio operations director for the Order of the Silver Rose, a civilian organization that presents awards to veterans who were exposed to the chemical used to clear the jungles of Vietnam and later became ill.

She was a real joy and a hard worker, said Gary Chenett, national director of the Order of the Silver Rose.

She wasn t even really around when Nam was going on, but she understood the horrors of dioxin and Agent Orange and what veterans are going through.

She was a real bright spot in the Silver Rose, and a real bright spot in every veteran s life, he said.

She struggled with her own illnesses for about two years, yet created and maintained a Web site, A Quiet Hero, which she dedicated to Bernard Berry, her godfather, who died of cancer in August, 2003. He was exposed to Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam.

Her godfather on Veteran s Day, 2002, received the first Silver Rose Award in northwest Ohio from U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) at a ceremony in downtown Toledo.

After Mr. Berry s death, she was definitely hurt, her husband, James, said. She was mad actually at the government for awhile, knowing that [Mr. Berry and his wife] were struggling for insurance.

Mrs. LaVoy was so close to her godfather and godmother his wife, Linda that she called them uncle and aunt.

Being involved helped her deal with the death of him, said Mrs. Berry, also an Ohio operations director of the Order of the Silver Rose. That s the way she handled it, was building the Web site.

Mrs. LaVoy s husband added: I was really proud of her because she built and designed [the Web site] on her own. Everything she learned was self-taught.

Mrs. LaVoy grew up in West Toledo and was a graduate of Whitmer High School. She and her husband have been together for 20 years, and she was a homemaker.

After she became ill, she took part in the program and support groups of the Victory Center, which works with people who have cancer in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.

Surviving are her husband, James LaVoy, whom she married Dec. 24, 1994; daughter, Lyndsey LaVoy; son, Jimmy LaVoy; stepdaughter, Erin McGovern; father, Ralph Rainey; mother, Linda VanSlyke; sister, Ginger Rainey, and a grandson.

The body will be in the Newcomer Funeral Home after 2 p.m. tomorrow. Services will be at 10 a.m. Monday in St. Clement Church, of which she was a member.

The family suggests tributes to the Victory Center.

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