In Celebration of the Life of Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson

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UPDATE: Funeral arrangements for Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson

NEW ORLEANS, LA – An ecumenical funeral service will be held at St. Louis Cathedral, 615 Pere Antoine Alley, New Orleans, LA at 2pm on Tuesday, July 9, 2024. Visitation will be held at the WWII Museum, Freedom Pavilion (Red Door Firehouse Entrance at 1043 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA) on Monday, July 8th, 2024, from 4pm-7pm. Parking garage is located at 1024 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA. Visitors will be subject to security screening. Interment will be held privately. Professional services entrusted to Mothe Funeral Homes (

Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson, GRI, passed away on June 26, 2024. Jackie was a significant force in real estate for five decades, a New Orleans icon, and a true public servant. She worked tirelessly to build and enrich our communities and leaves behind a unmatched legacy. In a statement shared with NOMAR, her family stated that she passed away, still holding her real estate license, following a brief illness. “She was surrounded by her family,” the statement read. “She loved the people of New Orleans as much as she loved her family. Her legacy of service will be felt for generations to come. Funeral arrangements will be announced soon. We thank the doctors, nurses, and staff at Touro Hospital for taking such good care of her.”

Below, please find in full the biography of Ms. Clarkson, who served on the New Orleans City Council, in the state legislature, and as the second female president of Louisiana REALTORS®.

No one brought greater passion to the New Orleans political, business and cultural communities than Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson. Jackie, a native of New Orleans, was the daughter of the late Sophie and Johnny Brechtel, the legendary coach who founded the New Orleans Recreation Department of Sports and the Arts for children in 1946.

Jackie and Arthur “Buzz” Clarkson, her husband of 70 years, raised five successful daughters, including Oscar-nominated and Emmy and Golden Globes award-winning actress Patricia Clarkson. They have 10 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

After attending Tulane University, Ms. Clarkson embarked on a 50-year career in real estate, during which she owned or managed three major firms, including her own firm, Jacquelyn Clarkson Realtors. She earned the Graduate, REALTOR Institute (GRI) designation, and held the CRB and CRS certifications. Her most cherished honor was serving as the second female President of the Louisiana Realtors Association.

This led her down a path to public service. As an elected official, Ms. Clarkson served the citizens of New Orleans for almost 25 years. She was a proven leader with a strong record of taking a stand on tough issues, tackling big projects and bringing about real change. Her legacy will be seen and felt for generations to come.

In 1990, Ms. Clarkson was elected to represent City Council District “C,” which encompasses one-fifth city, including the French Quarter. While serving on the Council, she focused on public safety, quality of life, historic preservation and economic development.

During her tenure, Ms. Clarkson brought the House of Blues to the French Quarter. She facilitated the redevelopment of the Fisher Housing Project in Algiers, an area on the West bank of New Orleans, turning it from a high-rise project of density and crime into a neighborhood—one of the first in the country.

Ms. Clarkson was a leader in cultivating New Orleans’ cultural economy. She brought artists back to Jackson Square and worked tirelessly to clean up the French Quarter—the heart of New Orleans’ tourism economy. And with the assistance of the New Orleans Ballet Association, she brought the Children’s Ballet back to NORD gymnasiums. Over 22,000 children from every walk of life have participated in this program and have gone on to greater opportunities.

In 1994, Ms. Clarkson was elected to the Louisiana Legislature as a State Representative. As a State Representative, Ms. Clarkson was recognized for her leadership, championing landmark legislation that focused on women’s health and safety, child protection, law enforcement, neighborhood preservation, and fiscal, ethics and government reform.

Further, she was integral in the development of the LSU/Tulane Cancer Research Center Consortium, the LSU/Tulane academic teaching hospital and the V.A. hospital in downtown New Orleans.

Ms. Clarkson was the lead author of the first genetic testing bill in Louisiana—and one of the first in the country—that prohibited the insurance industry from discriminating based on the results of DNA testing. Additionally, she authored legislation permitting access to mammograms. Her “stalking” bill moved Louisiana to the forefront for effective prosecution of that criminal offense.

The highlight of Ms. Clarkson’s legislative career was securing the initial state funding for the National World War II Museum, which brought it to New Orleans instead of remaining in Washington, D.C. Additionally, she was the original co-author on the state tax credit legislation that created “Hollywood South.”

In 2002, Ms. Clarkson returned to the New Orleans City Council. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, Ms. Clarkson stayed at “ground zero,” and helped bring in state and Federal assistance to the devastated city, which was eighty percent under water.

She was elected Councilmember-at-Large in a special election in 2007, and she was re-elected in 2010. In this role, she served as both President and Vice-President of the New Orleans City Council.

Under Mayor Mitch Landrieu, as City Council President and Budget Chairman, Ms. Clarkson helped rebuild the city and restore the city’s bond rating. She also authored legislation that placed the Office of Inspector General and its budget in the City’s Charter. She led the reopening of New Orleans’ Mahalia Jackson Center for the Performing Arts and worked on the public-private partnership that reopened the Saenger Theatre.

Most notably, Ms. Clarkson authored legislation that created the city’s first Master Plan and Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance and placed it in the City’s Charter, ensuring that economic development would progress in harmony with historic preservation and residential integrity.

When the Naval Support Activity on the West Bank of New Orleans was scheduled for closure, Ms. Clarkson authored legislation that created Federal City at that location, which included Marine Reserves and the Coast Guard 8th Naval District. This was done in coordination with the Belle Chasse Naval Air Station, which secured Naval Air and the U.S. Army. These coordinated projects ensured that three billion of the five billion of the military’s economic impact on the region was retained.

Ms. Clarkson was also a strong and active member of numerous civic organizations. She served on the University of New Orleans Board for Business and Higher Education, the Catholic Cultural and Heritage Center of New Orleans Board, and the Overture to the Cultural Season Board.

She was a Member of the New Orleans Military Advisory Committee, which helped bring more military troops to New Orleans and helped them retire here. She also served as a Member of the New Orleans Federal Alliance for Federal City, the LSU/Tulane Cancer Research Center Consortium, and the Audubon Institute.

Further, Ms. Clarkson served as an Emeritus Governor on the Board of Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre, the oldest community theatre in the United States. She was also on the Board of Ambassadors to Holy Cross College, the Advisory Board for the Louisiana Philharmonic, as well as the NORD/NOBA Ballet. She was a member of the original Board of Trustees for the D-Day Museum, now the National World War II Museum and is currently a Trustee Emeritus of that museum. She was also on the governing board of the New Orleans Opera.

In 2013, Ms. Clarkson received an Honorary Doctorate degree from Our Lady of Holy Cross College. She was inducted into the Louisiana Center for Women in Government and Business Hall of Fame in 2015 for her leadership among women.

Throughout her career, Jackie has received numerous awards and honors, including State Realtor of the Year and the Philippi St. Pe’ Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2022, the World War II Museum honored her with the American Spirit Medallion for demonstrating “extraordinary dedication to the principles that strengthen America’s freedom and democracy” and exemplifying “the highest standards of integrity, discipline, and initiative while making unselfish contributions to their community, state, or nation.”

In 2013, CityBusiness honored Ms. Clarkson as “Woman of the Year,” and she was inducted into their Hall of Fame. In 2011, the LSU School of Medicine named her “Honorary Alumna” for her stalwart support for the school and women’s healthcare initiatives. And the Breast Center of Ochsner Hospital also honored her with a special award.

Further, InspireNOLA Charter Schools honored her for leading the opening of charter schools in Algiers after Katrina — the first in the city to do so. The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra honored Ms. Clarkson for her assistance in rescuing the orchestra when it collapsed before Hurricane Katrina and found them a new home following the storm.

The American Planning Association honored her with the Francis P. Keevers Achievement Award for Enriching a Community’s Quality of Life, as well as the National Planning Achievement Award in recognition of her work on the City’s Master Plan.

Additionally, three separate branches of the U.S. Military recognized Ms. Clarkson for her service with honors rarely bestowed upon civilians. The Commanding Officer of the U.S. Naval Air Station designated Ms. Clarkson as Honorary Admiral. The Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard gave her a special Commendation. And Lieutenant General Mills and the U.S. Marines held a special flag ceremony in her honor.

Following her 2014 retirement from public office, Ms. Clarkson was invited to be Louisiana’s Honorary Consul for Lithuania by then Ambassador Zygimantas Pavilionis.

As the granddaughter of an immigrant from that country, Ms. Clarkson continued her public service by furthering trade between Louisiana companies and Lithuania’s port city, Klaipeda. Ms. Clarkson served as a member of the Louisiana Consular Corps in New Orleans. It is the oldest and largest Consular Corps in the United States, having represented over 50 countries over the years. Ms. Clarkson has attended all its meetings and events. In addition, Ms. Clarkson attended most of the meetings of the Lithuanian Consular Corps of America.

Those we love are never far; they go on in our hearts for as long as there is memory.