Jill Wrigley, an attorney committed to social justice and instructor at UMBC, died from lung cancer at her home in southwest Baltimore on Oct. 5. She was 52 years old.
Wrigley joined the Interdisciplinary Studies program in 2012 as an adjunct instructor and eventually held positions as a program advisor and general director later in her career. She most recently taught a seminar on food and food systems.
Wrigley’s passion for food education far surpassed the classroom, as she fought for food reforms in urban school systems. With her background as a union and worker’s rights attorney, she spearheaded the creation of Great Kids Farm, an instructional farm that educates students in the Baltimore Public School system about proper nutrition and food preparation and helps in developing college and career-ready pupils. She also served as a member of the Baltimore Food Policy Advisory Council.
In 2013, INDS students under the advisory of Wrigley created The Garden at UMBC. The student-run organization aims to spark social change with community projects and the collaboration of various departments on campus.
Tributes have been pouring in since Wrigley’s passing.
INDS senior, Melanie Schehr, said, “For the short period of time she was in my life she made an immense difference. I do not believe I would be where I am today in my life and in my studies had it not been for her. She pushed me to my limits and made me discover I had more power and more capabilities than I ever thought I had. She had true compassion and love for others and it could be felt so deeply.”
Kelsey Donnellan, a 2015 graduate and a founder of The Garden, noted Wrigley’s caring personality, “When I think about Jill, I think about her infectious smile and laughter. Whether Jill was in her office or tending to The Garden, she brought joyful stories with her.”
Donnellan added, “Jill was always thinking about others and how to deliver joy in every interaction… she continues to be a beacon of strength, intentionality and compassion in my life.”
INDS advisor and colleague, Carrie Sauter, noted that Wrigley’s death is a loss to a larger community as well, saying, “She was remarkable… her passing is a loss to the UMBC community and Baltimore.”
On Friday, Oct. 14, a Celebration of Life was held in honor of Wrigley’s life and her impact on the UMBC community. The ceremony was held, quite fittingly, at The Garden that she helped found. Her family, friends, colleagues and numerous others who were touched by her presence attended. The event was scheduled to last for only a half hour, but many people lingered and shared memories of how Wrigley impacted their lives.
Wrigley is survived by her husband and three children. Funeral services are scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 15 at 11:00 a.m. at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church. Instead of flowers, it is asked that donations are made in her honor to The Friends of Great Kids Farm or St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church Outreach Ministry.