James Francis Jackson, of Jefferson Township, in Sullivan County, died on Monday, May 6, 2013, at the age of 93. James F. Jackson was born on Sept. 28, 1919. He was the only child of Charles I. Jackson and Amanda Howard Jackson. He grew up in rural Jefferson Township on the family farm west of Pleasant-ville. He attended the public school there and graduated from Pleasantville High School in 1937. He is believed to be the last graduate from that year to pass away.
Following graduation he worked for his parents. From 1939-1942, he worked with the Rural Electrification Agency wiring homes in southern Sullivan County. He brought electricity into many homes there for the first time. James was soon drafted in 1942, and he served in the U.S. Air Force through 1946. He went to airplane mechanics school in Boston, but his military experience kept him mainly in Cincinnati, Ohio. He worked on airplane engines for the war effort. He spoke often about his work on jet engines and felt his military career was a good experience.
When the war was over, he attended Indiana University on the G.I. Bill from February 1946 to June 1950. He received his bachelor’s of science degree in mathematics and physics education. He was self-employed for a short time as a photographer. His studio was located in Dugger, Ind. He was hired as a math and science teacher at Pleasantville and taught there from September 1950 to May 1953. He returned to Cincinnati, in September of 1953 to work for G.E. Aircraft Engines and Space Technology for 13 years. He returned home to care for his elderly mother.
James is well known in the area for his love of roller skating which he took up during his stay in Cincinnati. He held two state championships for his division. During the 70s, 80s, and 90s, James took many children roller skating. James created a fun-filled and rich environment for children he knew and took great enjoyment in giving to them. He felt that his childhood as an only child during the depression had deprived him of all the fun he was offering to the children he loved so much.
In 1975, he was living on his family farm and negotiated a deal with Peabody Coal Company. James received some land in Kentucky as part of the deal, which he later sold, giving the proceeds to the Wabash Valley Foundation. The foundation created the James F. Jackson scholarship fund that has sent 23 valley recipients interested in math and science to college. His legacy will continue to support graduating students in Sullivan County and surrounding counties.
James has enriched the lives of children. James took groups of children to the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis, to Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, and to hear the Wurlitzer Organ at Paramount Pizza Palace every year. He also sent children to Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala. He took five trips in one summer to visit the Space Center in Huntsville. He supported class trips, sponsored kids in aviation and sponsored 4-H programs. He also took children to science fairs and was devoted to teaching students about science. James loved to be involved with the local foreign exchange students. James took magazine subscriptions for local children, including Highlights and Ranger Rick. James subscribed to over 200 magazines; his favorites were on topics of technology, physics, chemistry and math. He wrote articles that continued to be published up to the end of his life and four weeks before his death he was still composing letters to Indiana University professor of physics about centrifugal force.
When asked what he was most proud of about his life, he replied that it was taking exchange students on trips to make their experience in the U.S. more memorable and his memberships to American Association of Advancement of Science since 1978 and the American Chemical Society since 1993.
There will be no funeral or memorial arrangements for James per his request. James touched the heart of hundreds in his lifetime and will continue to give through his scholarship. Farewell to a dear friend from a grateful community. You may make contributions to Pleasantville United Methodist Cemetery Fund and Indian Prairie Fund in his memory. Arrangements were entrusted to Newkirk’s Funeral Home, in Dugger.