Remembering Jeanette 'Jay' Stokes: 1938-2021

Jeanette "Jay" Stokes, wife and life partner of former Congressman and Civil Rights champion Louis Stokes, and mother of FOX 5 NY’s Lori Stokes, passed away peacefully in Cleveland on October 30, 2021, at the age of 83. 

Despite her reluctance to be in the spotlight, Jay and Lou became a team — successfully campaigning for each of his 15 terms in Congress, attending every state dinner and political engagement and forming powerful relationships of her own with world leaders. 

She attended Democratic conventions around the country and accompanied her husband on fact-finding CODELS (congressional delegations) around the globe. From friendships with Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Jimmy Carter to audiences with Pope John Paul II, Jay carried out her role with the utmost grace and poise. Together, she and Lou — whom she lovingly called ‘Cap’ — were unstoppable. 

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Jay was also a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus Spouses organization which worked to enhance the conditions of minorities throughout the nation and was a member of the Congressional Club, which sponsored the First Ladies Luncheon in honor of the wife of the sitting President of the United States. 

After her children were old enough, Jay revisited her career and became a multimillion-dollar realtor with Long & Foster in Maryland where she and Lou had a second residence because of his congressional career. She also was a field director for the Miss D.C./U.S.A. pageants.

Jay was the recipient of numerous awards. In 1979, she was selected by Hurray for Black Women as the Wife and Mother of the Year. In 1986 she was recognized for her role as a member of the Board of Directors for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. In 1994 she was recognized by The Phillis Wheatley Association for her Years of Outstanding Community Service. In 1998 she was honored by General Mills Inc. for outstanding leadership in health education, and in 2015, she was honored by Mt. Zion Church in Oakwood Village as an Amazing Woman of Courage.