June 21, 1966 - March 26, 2015
Austin, Texas | Age 48
Jefferson Jones (JJ) Baskin passed in his Austin home holding the hand of his beloved wife Joy just past midnight on March 26, 2015, following his valiant year-long fight with cancer and the celebration of their 15th wedding anniversary.
JJ was a Texan. He lived his entire life in Texas. Born in Midland on June 21, 1966, JJ attended Midland Independent School District schools, graduating in 1984 from Midland High School. He was active in band, drama and speech and performed at Midland Community Theatre. He then attended Trinity University in San Antonio, where he graduated in 1988 with a B.A. in Political Science. Immediately thereafter, he moved to Austin, where he later attended the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas and earned a Master of Public Affairs (MPAff). He lived the remainder of his life in Austin.
JJ was a tireless public and community servant. Early in his career, he worked for Bob Bullock in the Texas State Comptroller's Office and was one of the first employees in the successful Attorney General campaign of Dan Morales. Though primarily a Democrat, JJ was actively involved in political campaigns for those public servants—Democratic or Republican—who supported his values, in particular those of education.
JJ was a Director of the Texas Lyceum, which is dedicated to educating Texans, through a non-partisan and non-political forum of depth and integrity, regarding the choices that Texans face.
Recently, JJ also became a director of Public Agenda, a national, non-profit, non-partisan, New-York-based organization that helps diverse leaders and citizens navigate divisive, complex issues and work together to find solutions.
JJ was a social/philanthropic entrepreneur. He had a profound respect for the not-for-profit sector's power to complement the for-profit sector. As a result, he became one of Texas' leading experts in philanthropy. He lectured at dozens of conferences and professional events across the state and nation on stakeholder engagement, board involvement, strategic planning and best practices in fund-raising. In 2013, he co-chaired the Texas Lyceum's first-ever conference dedicated to philanthropy, which featured keynotes from the College Board, The Economist, Educate Texas, the Gates Foundation and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. He also served as an Executive-on-Loan to San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro's SA2020 for philanthropy.
JJ was a friend of education—from pre-K to higher-education—in both our state and country. For five years, he worked at the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL). He was Co-President of the PTA at his children's school, Mathews Elementary, as well as President of the Austin Public Library Foundation. Through the Austin Community Foundation and his personal non-profit Education Capital, he lead the annual report and survey efforts for the Texas Education Foundation Network, A Texas Pioneer Foundation-sponsored project providing research, development and dissemination to 340 education-related foundations. JJ also served as a Trinity University Associate and an Executive-on-Loan to Mayor Castro's SA2020 for education.
JJ was a Longhorn. As a result, he was especially active in education at The University of Texas. In 2011, the Texas Ex-Student Association honored JJ with the Top Hand Award, which recognizes an individual who has given extraordinary service to the Texas Exes and the University of Texas. JJ is one of only 97 individuals to receive the award in the 130-year history of The University and from The University's 450,000 alumni.
JJ was a man of God. A life-long Presbyterian, JJ took enormous joy in his faith in general and the Presbyterian Church in particular. He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Midland, the First Presbyterian Church of San Antonio, University Presbyterian Church of Austin and—for the last 14 years—Covenant Presbyterian Church of Austin, where he was an elder and Clerk of the Session. Also, for years, he served on the Board of Trustees of Mo Ranch, the Presbyterian retreat center located on the Guadalupe River just outside of Hunt, Texas. He chaired Mo Ranch's Strategic Planning Committee.
JJ was a friend to literally thousands. A world-class connector, he took enormous joy in serving others. He also inspired thousands with his valiant fight against cancer. "JJ's Fight Club" evidenced his many friends and his inspiring battle against his disease. Formed by JJ's friends in mid-2014 following JJ's cancer diagnosis, JJ's Fight Club rallied to support JJ in his fight against his disease. The group now has friends in all 50 states and 17 foreign countries.
Finally, JJ came from a very close family, so he was, first and foremost, a family man. He adored his saintly wife Joy. He was deeply engaged in the lives of his sons Ben and Judge, who were the lights of his life. Joy, Ben and Judge were the center of all of his decisions. Laughter filled their home, and they loved spending time together as a family.
JJ is survived by:
His wife Joy Surratt Baskin of Austin
His sons Ben Baskin and Judge Baskin of Austin
His mother Joan Ragsdale Baskin of Midland, Texas
His sister Becky Baskin Ferguson and her husband Doug Ferguson of Midland, Texas
His brother Bo Baskin of Austin
His brother Steve Ragsdale Baskin and his wife Susie Baskin of Marble Falls, Texas
His in-laws Jim and Liz Surratt of Port Orange, Florida
His brother-in-law Tommy Surratt of Gainesville, Florida
His nieces and nephews:
Arthur James (AJ) Ferguson of Midland, Texas
Joan (Joanie) Baskin Ferguson of New York City
Katherine (Katie) Stewart Baskin of New Orleans, Louisiana
Annabelle Marie Baskin of Washington D.C.
Pat McKinney (Mac) Baskin III of Austin, Texas
Wiley Baskin of Marble Falls, Texas
William (Liam) Baskin of Marble Falls, Texas
Terrill Baskin of Marble Falls, Texas
Virginia Baskin of Marble Falls, Texas
His Aunt Kathy Ragsdale of Hunt, Texas
His Uncle Bill Baskin of Lake Jackson, Texas
Molly Baskin of Chicago, Illinois
Jamie Baskin of Austin, Texas
Bob Baskin of Richmond, Virginia
Stuart Baskin of Tyler, Texas
Beth Baskin Hill of Lake Jackson, Texas
Janie Ragsdale of Hunt, Texas
Julie Ragsdale of Los Angeles, California
Silas Baggett (Jeepers) Ragsdale III of Hunt, Texas
He is preceded in death by
His father Pat McKinney Baskin
His grandparents Silas and Sadie Ragsdale and James D. and Ruth Baskin
Services will be held at 3:30 pm Monday, March 30 at Covenant Presbyterian Church at 3003 Northland Drive in Austin. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Trinity University c/o Sharon Schweitzer, 1 Trinity Place, San Antonio, Texas 78212; Wonders and Worries at 9101 Burnet Road, Austin, Texas 78758; or Mo Ranch at2229 FM 1340, Hunt, Texas 78024.