NORTHAMPTON - "A beautiful life that came to an end, she died as she lived, everyone's caring friend and a "community" mother to all. In our hearts a memory will always be kept, of one we loved, and will never forget."
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Gloria Jean Jackson, a resident of Northampton and previously of Amherst, passed away Thursday, July 11, 2013, at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton.
Gloria was born on Dec. 24, 1948, in Albany, N.Y., to Harold and Arthur Mae Johnson. She was raised all of her life in Albany, N.Y., and graduated from Philip Schuyler High School in 1966.
During high school Gloria was quite shy, yet displayed an outward beauty and charismatic personality that enabled her to become part of her high school's Homecoming Court and Hospitality Club. Upon high school graduation, Gloria took it upon herself to move to Manhattan, N.Y., and pursue a long desired career in modeling. She stayed in the Brandon Women's Boarding House and took a sales clerk position at Saks Fifth Avenue to finance her modeling career.
When her career didn't bring her the satisfaction that she desired, her aunt Dorothy talked her into leaving modeling for good and attending college at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. During Gloria's freshmen year, December of 1968, she met Dennis Jackson. Four months later, while still in college, Dennis and Gloria were married May 16, 1969. It was the start of their 44 year journey as a married couple. Upon graduation from Florida A & M University, Gloria and Dennis relocated to New Jersey where Gloria worked for Bamburgers, a subsidiary of Macy's. At this time, Gloria became pregnant with their first child, Millicent. The couple then relocated to Albany, N.Y., where they settled at the State University of Albany, where Dennis was a resident director. It was here that Gloria had her second and third children, Kimberly and Jamahl. In Albany, Gloria became the director and advocate of Parents Against Drunk Driving, known to all in the community as P.A.D.D.
Gloria and Dennis relocated the family to Blackwood, N.J., where Dennis was the assistant basketball coach at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1984, the family ventured to Amherst, and settled in the growing Amherst community. At this time Gloria dedicated her time to raising her children and started a consignment business for some time in the Amherst Carriage Shops.
Upon her children getting older, she became an occasional worker/evaluator for National Evaluation Systems in Hadley, and it was not until recently that she retired from this position.
Gloria was diagnosed with cancer this spring and although she was determined to fight hard, she succumbed to the disease. She passed away the way she wanted, with loved ones by her side.
Predeceased by her parents and son-in-law Wade A. McDowell, Jr., of Holyoke, Gloria leaves behind her husband of 44 years, Dennis Sidney Jackson and her three children, Millicent Renee Jackson of South Deerfield, Kimberly Ali McDowell of Holyoke, and Jamahl Rashad Jackson of Boston. She leaves behind her two grandchildren, Kaley Aaliyah McDowell of Holyoke, and David Rashad Snell of Middletown, Conn. Gloria also leaves behind her only sister, Gwendolyn Taylor of Atlanta, Ga., and a nephew Jeff Taylor, his wife Gina Taylor and their three children, Jasmine, Jeff, Jr., and Jada all of Atlanta, Ga. Gloria leaves three sisters-in-law, Jennifer Jones of Easton, Pa., Carleen Jackson of Lakewood, N.J., and Deborah Green of Summit, N.J., as well as Deborah's husband Frank Green and their children Khadijah Green and Shabazz Green and Aleia Helms. She also leaves a brother-in-law Gilbert Jackson and his wife Jacqueline of Piscataway, N.J. Gloria will be missed by a plethora of friends and extended family members alike.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, July 27, at 1 p.m. at Mount Holyoke College Gamble Auditorium Art Building.
Memorial contributions may be made to Cooley Dickinson Cancer Center, Development Office, P.O. Box 329, Northampton, MA 01061.
The family has entrusted New England Funeral and Cremation Center, LLC, 25 Mill St., Springfield, MA with the arrangements.
For expressions of sympathy please visit www.nefcc.net.
Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on July 18, 2013