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Published: Sunday, 3/4/2012

Jackie Ayers, 1943-2012: Nurse, educator at MCO started health-care firm

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

BOWLING GREEN -- Jackie Ayers, a nurse and educator who formed her own company to control health-care costs, died Thursday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township. She was 68.

She was a 20-year breast cancer survivor. Though cancer returned and metastasized to the bone three years ago, she remained active, her daughter, Lisa Comes said.

She golfed, played bridge, and with her partner, Paul Haas, traveled the world. She took a 20-mile bicycle ride last summer.

Her health began to decline in December. Still, she believed the last 20 years "had been a real gift, and she lived every moment she could," her daughter said.

She retired in the early 2000s from a teaching position at what is now University of Toledo Medical Center. Earlier in her career, she taught at the former Medical College of Ohio. Since, she has been a docent at the Toledo Museum of Art. She also was board president of Hospice of Northwest Ohio.

"She was very supportive of the organization and very much valued Hospice of Northwest Ohio as a community asset," said Judy Seibenick, hospice executive director. "We are very grateful for her support and leadership."

In the 1980s, Ms. Ayers formed her own managed health-care business, which at one point was called Parkside Health Management Corp. She remained at the helm, though the firm was bought and sold more than once. She left when it was sold again in the late 1990s.

"Mom was all about empowering the amount of knowledge nurses had and having them do all they could" -- and only involving a physician when necessary, her daughter said. "She still had a good relationship with doctors and had a lot of respect for them, but she knew that nurses knew people. She was most proud that she challenged the system and looked at ways to do things better, whether it was at the college or in her managed care."

She was born Jacquelyn Thieding on Aug. 18, 1943, in Mansfield, Ohio. She was a graduate of Mansfield General Hospital school of nursing. She received a bachelor's degree from the University of Toledo and a bachelor of science degree in nursing from Wayne State University.

She was a nurse in patient care at the former Toledo Mental Health Center and Toledo Hospital, but quickly moved into supervisory positions, her daughter said. She worked at Toledo to develop a critical care unit.

"She was very direct. She had high expectations," her daughter said, "but she was fair with the expectations and communicated them clearly, and people seemed to want to please her. She was a mentor to many women, who went on to become mentors to other people."

She was a Zepf Center board member. She was an American Red Cross disaster team volunteer and helped in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. She was a member of New Hope Christian Church.

She was formerly married to Frank Ayers.

Surviving are her life partner, Paul Haas; daughters, Lisa Comes and Sarah Ayers; sisters, Donna Brinegar, Sandy Mills, and Casey Burns; half-sisters, Carla Stamper, Cherie Fitzpatrick, and Cindy Zatik; half-brother, Brent Lewis, and five grandchildren.

There will be no visitation. A formal remembrance will be at 3:30 p.m. March 17 in the Toledo Museum of Art Glass Pavilion, where a celebration of life will be from 3-6 p.m. Arrangements are by the Coyle Funeral Home.

The family suggest tributes to Hospice of Northwest Ohio or the docent program at the Toledo Museum of Art.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.



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