Jill Dinwiddie
Jill Dinwiddie
Courtesy of Kenneth W. Poe Funeral & Cremation Service of Charlotte

Jill Dinwiddie was 16 years old when three months as an exchange student in Turkey “opened my eyes to the world,” she once told an interviewer.

That experience and others inspired a lifelong devotion to the betterment of others, including as a nationally recognized advocate for women’s rights, her family said.

A Detroit native who moved to Charlotte in 2003, Dinwiddie helped get women elected to office. She led campaigns to end domestic violence. And she headed the Planned Parenthood movement in the Carolinas, advocating for quality reproductive health care for women, a 2016 Charlotte Observer article recounted.

Dinwiddie died on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, of pancreatic cancer, according to her obituary. She was 80.

For her many accomplishments, Dinwiddie was recognized as a 2015 Woman of the Year in Charlotte.

She told a reporter at the time “that the older she got, the bolder she got in pursuit of the causes closest to her heart,” her family said in her obituary. She was “principled and passionate until the end.”

Over the years, Dinwiddie served on 14 Charlotte boards and four state, three multi-state and two national boards.

She previously taught kindergarten at a U.S. Defense Department School in Germany, directed the International Center at UNC Chapel Hill and was vice president of public policy for the Association of International Educators.

She directed U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s northern California office and was executive director of the N.C. Council for Women.

“She cared deeply about access to reproductive health care, accurate sex education, curbing domestic violence and electing women to public office,” her family said in her obituary.

Dinwiddie and her husband, Bernie Hargadon, moved to Charlotte to be closer to their daughters, Penni and Louise. Over nearly 30 years of marriage, the couple also traveled the world and enjoyed music and art, her family said.

Jill Dinwiddie and Bernie Hargadon at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art’s Soirée Bohème gala. Photo by Daniel Coston – Special to the Observer

While “retired” in 2011, Dinwiddie co-founded the eNOugh campaign to raise awareness about domestic violence. She remained devoted to the cause through the Jamie Kimble Foundation for Courage, which recently named its Courage to Soar award for high schools in her name.

Helping establish a new Planned Parenthood health center in Charlotte was among her proudest accomplishments, according to her family.

“Early on, Jill decided that life is worth living when you give back,” her family wrote in her obituary. “Mission accomplished!”

A private service to celebrate her life is scheduled for 3 p.m. Jan. 21 at First Presbyterian Church in uptown Charlotte. Due to COVID restrictions, the service will be streamed on the church website.

A gift in Jill Dinwiddie’s memory can be made to Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, 100 S. Boylan Ave., Raleigh, NC 27603; the Jamie Kimble Foundation for Courage, 1850 E. Third St., Suite 110, Charlotte, NC 28204; the Dinwiddie Family Scholarship at American Field Service, One Whitehall St., second floor, New York, N.Y. 10004; or Hospice and Palliative Care of the Carolinas Region, PO Box 28247, Charlotte, NC 28247.

Kenneth W. Poe Funeral & Cremation Service in Charlotte is handling the funeral arrangements. Share condolences at www.kennethpoeservices.com.

Related stories from Charlotte Observer

Profile Image of Joe Marusak

Joe Marusak has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1989 covering the people, municipalities and major news events of the region, and was a news bureau editor for the paper. He currently reports on breaking news.