LA PALMA, Calif. — James (Jim) William Jackson was born on December 24, 1933 in Champaign, Illinois. He died on July 29, 2020 in La Palma, Calif. due to complications from heart disease.
He was the third of four children born to Raymond James Jackson and Mary Hoyle Jackson. They lived in Rantoul, until Jim’s father died of a heart attack when Jim was seven years old. The family then lived on a farm with his Uncle Ed Hoyle outside Amboy. Jim worked hard on the farm, driving a tractor by age nine. He was a star athlete and senior class president at Amboy High School, where he graduated in 1951. He served honorably in the U.S. Army from 1954 to 1956. He was stationed in England in a unit where he was a ballistic meteorology technician. After his military service he was enrolled at the University of Illinois with a major in meteorology.
In 1957 Jim and friends left Illinois to seek their fortunes in California. He met his eventual wife Rita that year, married in 1958, and started a family. He had a long and successful career with Southern California Edison, where he was promoted many times throughout his tenure. Jim retired in 1990 and moved to Lake San Marcos, Calif. with his second wife, Judie. After Judie’s untimely death in 1997 he met and married Fran. They were together until Fran’s death in 2019.
Jim will certainly be remembered for his generosity: he was always quick to lend a hand, and if you ever tried to pick up the check you were in for an arduous battle. He sent many dozens of people birthday cards each year, like clockwork. He would think it was the greatest compliment if you told him he had common sense, and he did. He was pragmatic, valued efficiency, and valued being on time. He was a man who showed up: to home every night after work, to his kids and grandkids’ events, to church, and to meet his obligations. He was a self-made man: all his successes at work and elsewhere were based on pure talent and hard work. His love for roadmaps was legendary: the onset of the GPS era was like the end of a great love affair. He loved sports (many have said he had the talent to become a professional athlete), loved playing golf, was great at fixing things, and was a talented woodworker. He loved jazz and big band music (all-time favorite movie: The Glenn Miller Story). He was a natural leader and an affectionate father and grandfather. He loved listening to a good storyteller, especially if it made him laugh, and could chronicle a good story with the best of them. He was a loyal and devoted man, helping to organize a yearly reunion with his Army buddies, and showing up to his family reunion in Illinois each year. He looked forward to these visits all year. Jim dearly and unabashedly loved his mother, who stood by him during trying times and good times alike.
Jim is survived by his brother, Robert; children, Regina, James, Daniel, Joan, and Ramona; his grandchildren, Jamie, Jason, Joey, Elizabeth, Jimmy, Nicholas, Emily, Justin, Daniel, and Jessica; and his great-grandchildren, Judah, Annie, and Elliot.
A memorial service was held at Mission San Luis Rey on Aug. 24, 2020. It will be a family-only event due to Covid-related restrictions.
All are encouraged to visit the website jameswjackson.net to see a tribute to Jim’s life and to leave remembrances.