Robert Isaiah Jackson|
March 16, 1923 - May 2, 2014
A Resident of Santa Cruz
A kind and gentle light has gone out of our world. Our beloved father, grandfather, friend, and mentor, Bob Jackson made his transition on May 2, 2014. He was 91 years young, and leaves behind a beautiful family legacy, decades of happy memories, and the respect of all who were lucky enough to know him.
Bob lived the good life, and did all the right things for all the right reasons. He was the textbook definition of the devoted family man, and a friend to everyone he met. Bob was blessed with a lifetime of achievements, a loving wife, three devoted sons and daughters-in-law, a happy crowd of beautiful grandchildren, and many years filled with peace and contentment. And as in all the best books, his story had a happy ending. When he needed them most, his many freely given gifts came back to him. Bob spent his last days in a comfortable setting, surrounded by family and friends.
If there was one secret to his success, it would be this: laughter was his daily bread. His ready smile was his most memorable facial feature, and he was always looking for the punch line.
Bob was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana on March 16, 1923. Calvin Coolidge was sworn in as President that year, women had just obtained the right to vote and Time Magazine came out with its first issue. As a child, Bob was there to see the first talking motion picture, Charles Lindbergh's trans-Atlantic crossing, and the 60 home run season by Babe Ruth. He also saw the years of Art Nouveau and Art Deco, the beginnings of Jazz, the stock market crash and the great depression to follow, the Dust Bowl and Prohibition. And remarkably all of this took place by the time he was 10.
In the memoirs of his early years, Bob writes: "I loved my father. He had all the qualities a boy would want in a dad. I wanted to be like him." And why not? Senator Samuel Dillon Jackson of Indiana, Bob's father, was America's last favorite son candidate, and one of the prime movers and shakers of the Democratic Party who helped secure the Vice Presidential nomination of Harry Truman in 1944. Yet despite his dad's national political stature, Bob knew that his mother was the true "home base, the rock, and the hub about which the family turned." With a family foundation like this, it's no wonder Bob went on to become the patriarch of his own remarkable, accomplished clan.
Then Bob entered his "maturing years" marked by a giant step he took out of college and into the Army Infantry. By the infamous winter of 1944 he was embedded as a medic in the ground forces in northern France holding back the advancing German forces in the Battle of The Bulge – the costliest US engagement of the war. But eventually came V-E Day and Bob joyfully headed home. He graduated from Indiana University in 1948 with a BA in business and was an active member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity where he developed life-long friendships.
It was during this time that Bob met the love of his life Joey (Katherine Joan Didier). They married in 1951 and not long after they headed west in a 1949 Chevy towing a small aluminum trailer, following Route 66 all the way to California. Eventually settling in San Jose, they both found employment in the banking business and by 1960 they were homeowners and the proud parents of three growing boys. In addition to his career and family duties, Bob was also very active in community activities, and rose to leadership positions in many organizations. In 1969, he was named San Jose "Citizen of the Year."
By 1980, Bob left his banking career and moved into the next phase of his life – a decade as the minister of the Church of Religious Science in Santa Cruz. As he wrote, "These were meaningful years in which I studied, spoke about, and taught spiritual principles that I loved – and still do." It was also during these years that he presided over all three of his son's weddings.
Bob's community commitment did not stop at his ministry. He was a volunteer at Kuumbwa Jazz Center working in the kitchen and sponsoring concerts and was a recipient of their prestigious Ellington Award in 2006. In 1993 Bob became a Volunteer Visitor with Hospice of Santa Cruz County and he also served as President of their Board of Directors in 2002. He remained involved with the organization for the next 12 years and was a member of their Legacy Circle. Bob was also a supporter of the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County. As a resident of Dominican Oaks for the last 14 years he served as President of the Resident Council; led classes and workshops for the residents and was a founder of the Caring Committee and the Spirit Awards.
Again, from Bob's memoirs: "To anyone reading this, my wish for you is that your life is as wonderful and fulfilling as mine has been. I have lived a dream, a desire come true. Never did I desire any other life or different experiences, for it seems that any major changes in my life have worked out for my good. Oh, there are some things that I desired at times that did not happen; however, they were made insignificant by all the great stuff that did. The key to happiness is gratitude. For all good things tend to follow an attitude of thankfulness, sharing and giving of ourselves. Be happy with who you are. Self-acceptance, self-love and a positive self image are the essentials to a satisfying life."
His heart still beats in the bodies of his loving family and those who cherish his memory, especially his sons Tim (Lori Chavez), Matt and Jay (Carolyn) and grandchildren Bennett, Emily, Amy, Nina and Olivia. Bob is predeceased by his wife Joey, grandson Gabriel, daughter-in-law Katie, his brothers Sam and Jim, and his special companion from Dominican Oaks, Mrs. Stuart Hurt.
Across that brief threshold that we call death, we still feel his presence with neither life diminished, nor love halved, nor honor abated. Goodbye and thank you for all you gave us – we are blessed to have been the recipients of that giving.
A celebration of Bob's life will be held at Oakwood Chapel, 3301 Paul Sweet Rd., Santa Cruz, on Saturday, June 7, 2014 at 11:00AM
Special gratitude is expressed to the caring and loving staff at Valley Haven III, particularly Jessie, Mayra and Sam, to Jean and the rest of his Hospice care team and to his Dominican Oaks family. To further honor Bob's memory you may consider a contribution in his name to two of his favorite organizations, Hospice of Santa Cruz County (supporting a music therapy program fund being named in Bob's honor), 940 Disc Dr., Scotts Valley, CA 95066 www.hospicesantacruz.org and Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060 www.kuumbwajazz.org If you would like to send your condolences to Bob's family, share your memories. view or post photos or light a candle, please visit www.scmemorial.com
Published in Santa Cruz Sentinel on May 11, 2014