The city of San Marino is mourning the loss of a longtime school board member and prolific volunteer, Nam Jack.
Jack died on Thursday, Sept. 7.
Jack served as a San Marino Unified School District Board of Education member from 2009 through 2018. Though she did not run for reelection, she returned as an appointed member of the Board during the 2021-22 school year to help fill abrupt vacancies. She served three terms as Board president, chaired two successful parcel tax measures and lead the effort for the school bond Measure S in 2020.
“Mrs. Jack was a dedicated and passionate advocate for education in our community, and her contributions to the San Marino Unified School District were invaluable,” said Superintendent Linda de la Torre in a letter to district families. “During her time on the board, she exhibited an unwavering commitment to our students’ welfare and educational excellence. Her thoughtful and insightful leadership left a lasting impact on our schools, helping to shape policies and initiatives that have benefited countless students over the years.”
Bestowed with numerous awards over the years, Jack received the Golden Apple Award in 2019 for exceptional volunteer service, one of the highest honors that can be given to volunteers in the field of education. The Golden Apple Award is sponsored by the Association of California School Administrators and the ceremony was hosted by the Northwest San Gabriel Valley Administrators Association, which encompasses 10 local school districts.
De la Torre emphasized Jack’s selfless leadership when she returned to helm the Board during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Her commitment to the betterment of our district remained as strong as ever, and her guidance and wisdom were instrumental in navigating the unprecedented challenges faced by our schools,” she said. “Mrs. Jack’s passion for education and her tireless efforts to ensure that every student had the opportunity to succeed was truly inspiring. She was not only a dedicated public official but also a friend and mentor to many in our community.”
In 2019, Jack received the Honorary Service Award from the San Marino PTA at the annual Founders Day ceremony and was honored with the San Marino PTA Council Golden Oak Award at the annual Founders Day event. In 2015, Jack was named one of 14 San Gabriel Valley residents who received the annual Women of Distinction award from Rep. Judy Chu.
Born in Seoul, South Korea, Jack attributed her passion for patriotic duty and community service to her father, who was the country’s first four-star general there. She grew up in Taiwan, France, Canada and South Korea, and was a graduate of the Seoul Foreign School, Brown University and Washington University School of Law. She worked as a commercial litigation attorney.
Among her other community service, Jack served on numerous boards of directors, as well as in officer positions, for many well-known organizations. She served as president of the San Marino Tennis Foundation and San Marino National Little League, on the boards of the Southern California Tennis Association, Kidspace, Foothill Family Services, St. Edmund’s Nursery School, La Cañada Presbyterian Church, National Charity League, San Marino Junior Alliance, San Marino National Little League, Parent Education Program, Occidental College, Brown University and more.
Jack was perhaps proudest of her family — husband Mike, and children Drew and Devon. In her free time, she was a sports fanatic (especially for tennis), attending some of the largest tennis events in the world like the U.S. Open and Wimbledon as well as various national championships to watch her daughter Devon compete.
During a ceremony to dedicate the Honorary Service Award to her in 2019, de la Torre said Jack deeply cared about San Marino children and would do anything to help them succeed in life.
“She is an incredible woman with boundless energy. She is brilliant and bold. She is a beautiful person inside and out and this community is blessed to have her among its citizenry,” de la Torre said.
Jack’s death reverberated across the city last week. In her email to district stakeholders, de la Torre encouraged those in mourning to remember her “with gratitude for her selfless service, her indomitable spirit and her unwavering commitment to the education of our children. Her legacy will continue to shine brightly in the halls of our schools and in the hearts of all who had the privilege of knowing her.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Mrs. Jack’s family during this difficult time. We will be forever grateful for her contributions to the San Marino Unified School District, and we will honor her memory by continuing the work she cared so deeply about.”
First published in the Sept. 21 issue of the San Marino Tribune