James Rhett Jackson
1925 - 2016
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James Rhett Jackson
COLUMBIA, SC-- James Rhett Jackson a humanitarian, civil rights leader and devout Methodist, died at Summit Hills Skilled Nursing Facility in Spartanburg, SC, on May 26, 2016. Born on February 7, 1925, he challenged his church and society to confront its intolerance towards others throughout his life. He fully involved himself in his beloved church by chairing the South Carolina Methodist Merger Conference (formed to merge black and white conferences), being a member of the task force to write a plan of merger for the Black/White Methodist Conferences and being a delegate to many Annual and World Conferences. He was a member and later the chairman of the Board of Trustees of Claflin College and in 1977 was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters there. He received the Whitney M. Young award from the Urban League and was awarded the J. Waites Waring Humanitarian award.
He was one of the first members of the Alston Wilkes Society and was the longest serving president of both the Board of Trustees and the Foundation. Appointed to the South Carolina State Board of Pardons and Parole in 1975, he served as a member of the organization for over 20 years, and during that time held positions of secretary, vice-chairman and chairman.
Others began to recognize his efforts and accomplishments when he was awarded the Order of the Palmetto and Doctor of Humane Letter Degrees from both Wiley College in Marshall, TX, and Columbia College in Columbia, SC.
For many years Rhett was in the furniture business in North, SC, Clearwater, FL, and later in Columbia, SC. When his children grew into adulthood, he changed careers pursing his lifelong dream of books. He and his wife opened the Happy Bookseller in 1975, and it became the gathering place of friends, authors, the intellectually curious and book lovers. He was twice elected president of the American Bookseller Association and received the American Association Lifetime Achievement Award and the Hugh Hefner First Amendment Lifetime Achievement Award.
Married in 1946 to Betty Culler Jackson, he is survived by her and their two children, Jim Jackson (Karen) of Crozet, VA, and Kay Lawrence (Jack) of Spartanburg, SC; grandchildren, Tara Bailey (Jim) of Summerville, SC, Ann Parker (Ashley) of Charlotte, NC, Sara (Rick Carlisle) Lawrence of Durham, NC, and Rob Lawrence of Hendersonville, NC; great grandchildren, Ann Elizabeth, Rebecca and Blair Bailey of Summerville, SC, and Brett, Blake and Jay Parker of Charlotte, NC. He is also survived by his beloved identical twin, Larry Jackson of Greenwood, SC, as well as many nieces and nephews, whose fond remembrances of him were that ""He told the best stories but the worst jokes; he fixed the best fried fish but chose the worst restaurants; and he lit up the room brighter that any chandelier."" In addition to his parents, Arthur Edward and Rosa Gilbert Jackson, he was preceded in death by his brothers, Gilbert Jackson, Stoney Jackson and Arthur Jackson; sister, Sara King McLeod; and grandson, Brian Lawrence.
His life was full, challenging, directed towards others and immersed in joy.
Services honoring his life will be held at 2 PM, Saturday, June 4, 2016, at Trenholm Road United Methodist Church, with a reception immediately following. Prior to the service a private burial will be held at the church for the family. The family is at the home of Jack and Kay Lawrence, 112 Briarwood Court, Spartanburg, SC. Shives Funeral Home, Trenholm Road Chapel, is assisting the family.
Memorials may be made to the Alston Wilkes Society, 3510 Medical Drive, Columbia, SC 29203 or to the Mission Program of Trenholm Road United Methodist Church, 3401 Trenholm Road, Columbia, SC 29204.
Memories and Condolences may be shared at ShivesFuneralHome.com

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Published in Spartanburg Herald-Journal from May 29 to May 30, 2016.
02:00 PM
Trenholm Road United Methodist Church
Memories & Condolences
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14 entries
June 7, 2016
Such a beautiful man....who dedicated his life to the healing of people's souls. While I did not know him well, I was around him a lot and always felt comforted by his presence. Prayers and blessings to his family...
Patty Russell
June 3, 2016
A paragon among men. A shining light in time of darkenss. I treasure the time served with Rhett on the SC Book Festival Advsiory Committee Nancy Brock Columbia, SC
June 1, 2016
Dear Kay,
My thoughts and prayers are with you as you mourn the loss of your wonderful father.
Alise Moody Daniel
June 1, 2016
Kay, my prayers are for you and the family.
Jimmy Livingston
May 31, 2016
My condolences to the family

Jay Keller
May 30, 2016
I know how very much we all love and appreciate your faithful and constant work for Trenholm Road United Methodist Church in Columbia...
You are on the streets of gold and we will be praying for your family during this time.
Brenda Harper Kee
May 30, 2016
Rhett & I were first elected to the SC UM CHURCH Board of Christian Concerns in 1960. He was elected chair. He was a gentle warrior for all rejected people. He blessed many others by the very living of his life. He was a "Happy Servant " of God and humanity.
Jim & Patsy Nates
May 30, 2016
Betty- Please convey to your family my great privilege to have known and worked with Rhett for so many years.You, and we, knew him as a great man.
Ted Moore
May 29, 2016
Sorry for your loss. May the GOD of all Comfort be with the family at this time of sorrow.
S. Washington
May 29, 2016
The mere saying of his name is to define the servant life!
Ernest Prewett
May 29, 2016
Rhett was one of my favorite people. He was a man of great concerns, deep compassion, and commitment, and he left all of us as better people in a better state. Praise God!
Regi Thackston
May 29, 2016
I'd like to offer condolences to the family. Best Wishes.
Roger Henault
May 29, 2016
Rhetts' faith in God and his service to humanity stand as am example for all of us.My thoughts and prayers are with his family.
Frank E Barron III
May 29, 2016
Rhetts' faith in God and his service to humanity stand as an example for all of us.My thoughts and prayers are with his family.
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