Jackie Lou Polakoff, 83, of Shelbyville, a lifelong Shelby County resident, passed away Tuesday, August 29, 2017 at Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.
She was born at home in Morristown, the daughter of Ralph and Belva (Pitts) Hawkins. Her husband of 59 years, Donald M. Polakoff, survives.
In addition to her husband, Jackie is survived by her daughters, Jennifer McNally and husband, Tom, of Shelbyville, and Susan Polakoff Shaw and husband, Bud, of Cleveland, Ohio; and grandchildren, Molly Shaw and fiance’ Jacob Wachtman, of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Ryan Shaw and wife, Melanie, of Columbus, Ohio and three great-grandsons.
Jackie was preceded in death by her parents; sister, Sue Ann Muth; brother-in-law, Vic Muth; and nephew, Dr. David Muth.
She graduated from Shelbyville High School in 1952 and Ball State University in 1956. She was the first in her immediate family to graduate from college. After graduation, she taught history and English at Morristown High School.
Jackie’s mother’s family managed the Blue River Packing company, a tomato canning plant. She often shared stories about her childhood adventures at the “tomato factory” with her cousins. During WWII, a P.O.W. camp was located in Morristown and many P.O.W.s worked at the factory to help fill a labor shortage—a source of wonderment for her and her young cousins.
As a child, Jackie traveled around Indiana with her parents, who operated a caramel corn stand at various county fairs as a hobby—another source of colorful adventures and wonderful stories.
An avid reader, Jackie loved books on Civil War history, presidential biographies, mystery novels— especially classic English mysteries. She read the entire Harry Potter series. Her favorite movies were “Young Frankenstein,” “The Birdcage,” “Gone with the Wind,” and “Rebecca.” Her celebrity crushes were Mark Harmon and Tom Selleck. Especially Tom Selleck.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Jackie and Donald were volunteers with Youth for Understanding, serving as Area Representatives. They matched high school foreign exchange students with central Indiana families. They personally hosted six exchange students and still kept in touch with “sons” Matthias, Juan, Maximo and Karri and their families—-many of whom returned to visit multiple times and bringing their own young families with them.
At the Polakoff home on Prescott Road, Jackie was an unflappable hostess and coordinator for hundreds of pool parties, large Thanksgiving dinners, birthday parties, holiday parties and weekly Sunday “pitch-ins.” She was the kind of cook you always wanted your mother or spouse to be.
Jackie was a fan of IU basketball and the Indianapolis Colts and watched every game.
Private graveside services will be held at Asbury Cemetery in Morristown.
Services have been entrusted to Freeman Family Funeral Homes and Crematory, 819 S. Harrison St. in Shelbyville.
A celebration of Jackie’s life will be Sept. 30 at Fiddler’s Three/Maxim Event Center, 1415 E. Michigan, Road, Shelbyville, from 4:00-7:00 PM.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Shelbyville-Shelby County Public Library Foundation, 57 W. Broadway St., Shelbyville, Indiana 46176.