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