Dr. James E. Jackson
October 29, 1929 - December 31, 2012
Resident of Emeryville
James Edwin Jackson, an accomplished physician, public health care administrator, and visionary who served as the Chairman of the Maternal and Child Health Department for the Alameda County Medical Center for over 20 years, passed away the evening of December 31, 2012 at his home in Emeryville.
He was born in Bainbridge, Georgia, the only child of Jennie Smith Bigelow, and was lovingly raised by his aunt and uncle, Winder and Eddie Dean Jackson.
Graduating as valedictorian of his high school class at 16, he entered Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, where he met Charlotte Thomas. They later married, and, to that union, four children were born#8212;Gloria, Suzan, Stephanie, and James. Although the marriage ended, they remained friends and joined with their children often to celebrate family milestones and holidays throughout the years.
After graduating from Morehouse in 1950, he enlisted in the United States Navy, serving first as a medical corpsman and a standard bearer for his unit and later, as an officer, providing expertise in cryptography aboard a light cruiser in the Mediterranean. Seeking career advancement and following his plans for a career in medicine, he applied and became the first African American student to be admitted to George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, DC. He graduated in 1959 and completed his internship in Boston, Massachusetts.
While working as a public health medical officer in the United States Public Health Service in Staten Island, New York, he was accepted into the Obstetrical and Gynecological Residency Program at George Washington University Medical School through a special arrangement with Howard University. As Chief Resident, his compassion and knowledge were evident in the way he taught, mentored, and nurtured those entering the program. Throughout his career, he would come to be known by his students and patients for his calm, quiet, and determined nature.
In 1965, James moved to California and joined the partners at the Arlington Medical Group. Through his association and later partnership with the group's senior members, Drs. Robert Taylor, James Watson and Benjamin Major, a bond of friendship was born that strengthened through the years, lasting until each of their deaths. A lasting tribute to the relationships of those founding partners is the Group's impact on many current Bay Area physicians, who trained or worked at Arlington at one time in their careers.
A diplomate of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and a Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, James served as Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Herrick and Alta Bates Hospitals. After receiving a Master's Degree in Public Health from the University of California at Berkeley in 1980, he was asked to teach a class in maternal and child health at Berkeley's School of Public Health. Dedicated to his students' success, he served as an adjunct professor there for many years.
Concerned about the dramatic disparity in infant and maternal mortality rates in Oakland in contrast to that of more affluent communities nearby, Dr. Jackson left private practice to serve the public. He applied for and was appointed Interim Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Highland Hospital in 1986 and eventually became Chairman of the Department of Maternal and Child Health at Alameda County Medical Center. During his tenure, he was instrumental in the implementation of numerous programs and initiatives (such as fully integrating midwives into the obstetrical service) that helped to improve health outcomes for underserved and at-risk populations.
During his long career, James taught and trained numerous physicians and midwives and, by his own estimate, delivered over 8,000 infants. He was or had been a member of the American Medical Association; the California Medical Association; the Alameda-Contra-Costa Medical Association; the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; the American Public Health Association; the Association of Physician Executives; the Golden State Medical Association; the Sinkler-Miller Medical Association; and a past president of the Northern California Medical, Dental, Pharmaceutical Association.
In 1986, James married Fern Levy Scott, and, together with her children Adam and Alison, they created a blended family that brought enjoyment into his life.
Well-respected in all of his endeavors, he was a very special, warm person and a man of principle, equally sensitive and philosophical. He approached the joys of living with the same quiet respect and deliberation that marked his life-affirming work.
He is survived by Fern and their children, Gloria Jackson Yamato, Suzan Jackson, Stephanie Jackson Christmas (Robert), James E. T. Jackson (Meryl), Adam Scott, and Alison Scott Maulana; their grandchildren, Tatsu Yamato (Nikki), Ahmad Yamato, Charlotte Jones, Christian Valteau, Rashaan Maulana, James A. Jackson and Claire Jackson. Great-granddaughter Maia was a delight to him, and, even during his illness, he would always manage a smile, kiss, and a hug for her.
A host of devoted cousins, extended family, and friends will also remember James's love and legacy.
A memorial service will be held at the Alameda County Medical Center's Highland Campus, on Saturday, February 2, 2013, at 11:30 a.m. in the Atrium.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to the Women's Urgent Care Center at Alameda County Medical Center or to the Morehouse College General Scholarship Fund.
Published in Inside Bay Area on January 13, 2013
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