Jean R. (Hollander) Yawkey was born in 1909 in Brooklyn, New York and was raised and educated on Long Island. Jean actively volunteered with the American Red Cross during World War II. She married Tom Yawkey in 1944. The Yawkeys lived in Boston and New York and would spend winters in Georgetown, South Carolina.

Following her husband's death in 1976, Jean Yawkey became the majority owner and general partner of the Boston Red Sox. In addition to attending virtually every home game, Jean actively participated in the management of the team.

Like her husband, Jean Yawkey was well known as a private and generous woman who gave freely of her time and money to those in need. She had a long association with the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute serving as both a Trustee and Chair of the Board. Jean Yawkey was a Director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, and holds the distinction of being the first woman ever elected to serve on the Hall of Fame's board. She was also active in the founding of the Tara Hall Home for Boys in Georgetown, South Carolina and the Family Inn in Brookline, Massachusetts. She established scholarship programs at Yale University, Boston College, and with the Jackie Robinson Foundation. She also actively supported a number of other humanitarian, educational, cultural, and athletic organizations. Jean Yawkey died in 1992.