Arlo Guthrie's wife, Jackie, loses battle with cancer

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Wednesday October 17, 2012

WASHINGTON, Mass. -- Jackie Guthrie, who met folk singer Arlo Guthrie on tour in a famous L.A. club in 1968 and knew then she would marry him, died Sunday from an inoperable liver cancer at their winter home in Sebastian, Fla.

The 68-year-old was surrounded by her family and a few friends. Her death came five days after Arlo and Jackie marked their 43rd wedding anniversary.

"There are loves, and there are LOVES. Ours was and will continue to be what it has always been -- a very great love," Arlo Guthrie posted on his Facebook page.

On Tuesday, Guthrie's label, Rising Son Records, released an obituary reflecting on the wife, sister of three, mother of five, and grandmother of 10. The story of Jackie and Arlo is a cross-country American road trip of love and devotion to family, friends and community.

Jackie Guthrie, the former Jacklyn Hyde of Salt Lake City, Utah, was born on July 25, 1944. She grew up on a horse farm in Malibu, Calif., and later her beauty and charm would earn her the title of "Miss Malibu" at age 17.

Jackie met Arlo Guthrie in 1968 while she was working as a cashier in a famous Hollywood club, The Troubador, where he was touring.

During that time and before they were introduced, Jackie reportedly walked into the dressing room and told Arlo's stepbrother, Richard Cooper, "You know, I'm going to marry your brother."

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The premonition came true on Oct. 9, 1969, against the backdrop of fall foliage and a hot, sunny day on the 250-acre estate in the Western Massachusetts town of Washington, which Arlo purchased in September after playing Woodstock. The property remains the family homestead in the Berkshires.

Jackie, 25, and Arlo, 22, wore crowns of flowers in their hair and shared a chocolate wedding cake made by Alice Brock, for whom Arlo Guthrie's iconic film "Alice's Restaurant" (re leased in November that year) and song is named.

The marriage made headlines, with pictures of their wedding published in newspapers and magazines around the world, including National Geo graphic. The ceremony as "Woodstock and ‘Romeo and Juliet' all rolled into one," a Berkshire Eagle reporter wrote at the time.

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Through the years, they raised four children -- Abe, Cathy, Annie, and Sarah Lee -- who would all grow up to become entertainers in their own rights.

Jackie, Arlo, and their children were connected to Kashi Ashram -- an interfaith spiritual teaching community, founded in Sebastian, Fla., by their guru and dear friend, Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati, who passed away in April.

The Guthrie Center Interfaith Church in Great Barrington still serves as an extension of Kashi and Ma's teachings. For the past 25 years, Jackie and Arlo would accompany Ma on her visits to hospitals, nursing homes, and other health-related facilities to bring cheer and kindness.

Jackie was considered a crusader for social causes, mostly health care issues as a breast cancer survivor of more than 12 years. She wrote extensively on natural foods and medicines, encouraging people everywhere to pursue healthier lifestyles, and also helped to organize charitable events in Berkshire County.

"She was a wonderful woman," said Alan Chartock, president and CEO of WAMC/Northeast Public Radio, a friend of the Guthrie family who happens to share the same birthday as Jackie. Chartock described her as one who was "fiercely devoted to her children" and served as a "mother to all."

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Over the last few years, The Guthrie Family toured together with all the kids and grandchildren while Jackie assumed the role of videographer. She filmed every show and posted more than 250 clips via her "Mrs. G's Videos" YouTube channel, which can also be viewed on the family's company website

This past summer, The Guthrie Family went on tour celebrating the centennial birthday of Woody Guthrie, Arlo's father.

While touring, Jackie became weak. Barely able to handle the cameras, she reportedly refused to leave the road and seek medical attention. But as the summer tour came to a close, she was scarcely able to walk, and her cancer diagnosis came in early September.

"We want to acknowledge the doctors, nurses, and caregivers whom she befriended; the thousands of known and unknown friends from all over the world who prayed and wished us well, and mostly our children who attended her so gently and beautifully as she prepared to leave this world. We are grateful for our life together and thank ful for the moments we shared," Arlo Guthrie said in a statement.

Jackie is survived by her husband Arlo; her children, Abe, Cathy, Annie, Sarah Lee with Arlo, and Erika, her daughter with singer David Crosby; her grandchildren, Krishna, Mo, Serena, Jacklyn, Olivia, Marjorie, Sophia, Roberta, Jorge and Alexa; her brother, Berkshire-based metal sculptor Robert Alan Hyde; and her sisters, Juanita Zaderecki and Shirley Spurlin.

On his website, Arlo Guthrie announced his is taking time off the road this week to be with his family to honor the life and mourn the death of his wife. Guthrie's website says he's canceling or postponing some upcoming shows, including those scheduled this week in Ohio, and will begin a planned tour in Canada next week.

Funeral arrangements were not made public on Tuesday.


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