Don Jackson, Jr., 93, left this world on December 29th, 2020. This wonderful, loving man was also known as Santa, Dad, Grampa, Uncle Don, Mr. Jackson, Don, and Junior. Don was born April 28th,1927 to Don Deward Jackson Sr. and Alice Elizabeth Traner Jackson in Texon, Texas. Don’s greatest love was his wife, Dorothy Jackson, whom he married in 1953 and continued to love beyond her passing in 2013.
In 1935 at the age of eight, Don moved from Texas to Michigan with his family and grandparents (Guy and Ruby Traner), the dog riding on the fender of the car the whole way. He graduated from Manistee High School in 1945. Don was always one to go on an adventure. It didn’t matter where, if you said “go,” he was ready. As a father, he jingled his keys in his pocket until all of the family and all of their traveling gear made it out the door and they were finally off like a “herd of turtles.”
Don is a WWII veteran and the GI Bill gave him the opportunity to receive his degree from Michigan State College (later to be known as Michigan State University.) As a business major, he found himself in Bangor, MI, teaching school. Bangor is where he met his future wife, a fellow teacher. They first laid eyes on each other at a teacher’s meeting at the beginning of the year and were married the day after Christmas. Don was a fervent advocate for his students, eventually receiving a Master’s degree from Western Michigan University and teaching special education in the South Haven Public Schools. He retired in 1986.
Like his father, Don enjoyed chess. Together, they played in the yearly national chess tournament in Las Vegas. They set up chess clubs for the students in South Haven and Ludington and after retirement Don set up a chess club for the community. The chess club saw many ages and skill levels and played against other chess players all over.
In 1984 at the age of 57, Don bought and began riding a bike. A month later, he rode from Eugene, Oregon to South Haven, Michigan. From there he decided to bike 100 miles in every state. Don had many adventures with his little brother, Vic Jackson, including crossing off the final two states on their trips along the cold Alaskan highway and in tropical Hawaii. For many years, he participated in the PALM (Pedal Across Lower Michigan) bike ride sometimes bringing numerous family members, including grandchildren and great grandchildren, along with him.
Don had a large family. He is survived by his children Mary Jackson, Don (Julie) Jackson, Sue (Royce) Myers and Jenny (Alistair) McGill. Don also leaves behind his brother Vic (Karen) Jackson and was preceded in death by his sister Gail (Art) Breece and grandchild Kindra Dee Jackson. Don’s loss is felt by his 11 grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews, as well as the many friends he had.
Don Jackson was always a man with a smile and a kind word for you when you most needed it. Although his loved ones cannot gather at this time to celebrate his life, we hope to do so in the near future. To those he loves, his memory stays alive in the quiet of the woods or the beauty of a long bike path. His twinkling smile, listening ear, and stories will be sorely missed. Memorial contributions may be made in Don’s honor to the charity of your choice.
Kindly share your thoughts and memories on the family’s online guest book at www.FilbrandtFFH.com.
The family is being helped by the Filbrandt Family Funeral Home of South Haven 269-637-0333.