DeForrest Jackson, 87, of Gainesville, passed away on Nov. 14, 2013, at Northeast Georgia Medical Center after a monthslong battle with cancer. Born in Dacula, Ga., on Nov. 22, 1925, he grew up in Miami, Fla., graduating from Edison High School.
During the second World War he served in the US Navy
V-12 training program while in college, was honorably discharged at war's end, and in 1948, received an AB in journalism from Emory University, where he was a member and president of Kappa Alpha Order. He was employed by The Coca-Cola Co. following graduation, but re-enlisted in the Navy at the start of the Korean conflict
, graduated from OCS and served as gunnery officer aboard the destroyer Cogswell during that war. Following a second discharge, he returned to a long and successful, many-faceted career with Coca-Cola, including positions in bottler relations, product development (he was the first product manager for Sprite), advertising, marketing and promotions, ending as director of communications. In 1981, he took early retirement and moved eagerly in a new career direction.
DeForrest earned an MS in communications from the University of Tennessee in 1982, and served as associate professor of advertising in the College of Communications until his final retirement in 1996. He and his wife remained in Knoxville in retirement until health concerns prompted their moving to Georgia in 2012, to be closer to family. During his career at UTK, he was twice selected one of the National Alumni Association's Most Outstanding Teachers, first as a graduate teaching assistant and two years later as an associate professor. He received a Fulbright grant and in 1988 and 1990 taught advertising in the first Portuguese MBA programs in Lisbon and Oporto universities.
During his years in Atlanta, DeForrest served as deacon and elder at North Decatur Presbyterian Church and later was a member of Decatur Presbyterian Church. In Atlanta, he and his wife were co-chairmen of the International Student Bureau in the late '60s, and he was a member of the Atlanta Track Club, running the Peachtree Road Race in its early years and also one marathon but concentrating on 200- and 400-meter track events, winning national awards in his age group in the 1970s. For the 1980 Winter Olympics
, he was selected the one Torch Bearer from Georgia from a group of some 5,000 applicants and was the second oldest of a 52-person team representing each state, D.C., and the town of Lake Placid, who relayed the Olympic Torch 1,000 miles from Yorktown, Va., to Lake Placid, N.Y., and stayed throughout the Olympics serving in various ceremonial roles.
In Knoxville, he was a member of Sequoyah Hills Presbyterian Church. He continued his longtime interests in art and architecture, classical music and opera, including holding a subscription to the Atlanta Symphony for 42 years, and season tickets to the Metropolitan Opera as long as its annual visits to Atlanta continued. He loved reading history and biography, traveling and regular trips with family to his favorite Destin-area beaches. He was an avid Atlanta Braves and UT Vols fan, enjoying Lady Vols basketball season tickets from 1984-2012.
He met his beloved wife, the former Eleanor Manuel of Austin, Texas, in Dallas, when she was teaching there and he was briefly working out of the regional Coca-Cola office. They were married in her hometown in 1958 and were blessed with 55 years together before his death, raising their family in the Decatur suburban-Atlanta area.
DeForrest was preceded in death by his parents, Barney L. and Nellie Roark Jackson; two sisters, Wilda Chasteen; and Charlotte Meade; a brother, Benjamin M. Jackson; a nephew, Jeffrey Chasteen; and several cousins.
Survivors include his wife, Eleanor; two cherished sons, Drew Jackson (Mari-Lynn) of Flowery Branch, Ga.; and Joel Jackson (Melinda) of Atlanta; a much-loved niece, Maureen Haislip (Richard) of Avondale Estates, Ga.; and three beloved grandchildren, McKenzie Jackson; Will Jackson; and Laurel Haislip. Other close relatives include first cousin, John Roark (Peggy) of Buford, Ga.; niece, Holly Meade of Tucson, Ariz.; nephew, Alan Meade of Austin, Texas; brother-in-law Ernest Chasteen of Spring Lake, Fla.; and his son, Craig Chasteen (Sue) and their daughter, Celine, of Wellington, Fla.; and several other special cousins.
The family is grateful for so many friends who offered prayers, encouraging thoughts and much loving support in the past months. Special thanks go to Hospice of Northeast Georgia and the wonderful Tina, Monique, Whitney and Emily in particular.
A memorial service will be held at Buford Presbyterian Church, 1242 Buford Highway, Sugar Hill, Ga., at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 23. His cousin, the Rev. Dr. John Roark, will conduct the service. The family invites all attending to an informal reception at the church following the service.
In lieu of flowers, please consider contributing to one of several causes dear to DeForrest's heart: Hospice of Northeast Georgia, 2150 Limestone Parkway, Gainesville, GA 30501; Appalachia Service Project, 4523 Bristol Highway, Johnson City, TN 37601; or The Pat Summitt Foundation for Alzheimer's Research, 625 Market St., Suite 1400, Knoxville, TN 37902. To express condolences, please sign our online guest book at www.flaniganfuneralhome.com.
Arrangements by: Junior E. Flanigan of Flanigan Funeral Home and Crematory, Buford, GA, 770-932-1133.