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A lover of learning

By Tonya S. Swindell

My uncle, Rev. Dr. George W. Jackson Sr., radiated light and joy. His boisterous laughter, willingness to serve and appreciation for learning, was evident everywhere he went. His best friend and confidant for more than 37 years was his wife, whom he lovingly nicknamed “Rosebud.”

George was my uncle by marriage. A mutual friend introduced him to my mother’s sister, Rose Marie, in 1977. On July 7, 1984, I was flower girl for their simple yet memorable wedding officiated by my Dad on my parents’ front lawn. Wide, tall pine trees gently shaded ornately decorated seats from which neighbors witnessed the expression of Rose and George’s personally written vows.

In some regards, Uncle George’s brown skin, small bodily frame, closely cropped balding hairline, simple eyeglasses and consistently bright smile, reminded me of “Big Daddy,” my maternal grandfather, who also had a gentle, loving manner. Both men possessed a clever sense of humor and were extremely intelligent.

Once during high school, Uncle George patiently assisted me with physics homework. Later he advised about issues related to his research and chosen field of study. As I prepared for this article, I gained greater awareness of his continual love for learning.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from Talladega College and a master’s degree from John Carroll University. At Cleveland State University, he obtained a master’s degree, an MBA and became the first African American to earn a doctorate degree in chemistry.

According to his obituary, Uncle George was a research chemist, laboratory manager and associate director of technology at Union Carbide, where he worked 23 years. While there, he earned two patents and published more than 60 technical papers. In 1982, he incorporated Alpha-Omega Chemical Company, which provided environmental remediation and engineering services and operated a full service analytical laboratory. Among other accomplishments and honors, George was co-founder and first chairman of the Board of Trustees for American Sickle Cell Anemia Association.

The obituary continued: “George evinced a lifelong passion for truth-seeking and spiritual growth as a commitment to his love for learning. After many years of being active in several Christian denominations, George became an ordained minister and founded the Agape Renaissance Center, a Spiritual Interfaith Fellowship, which held its first Sunday service on November 24, 2002.”

Uncle George laughed, loved and made people feel at home. On the morning of May 24, 2019, he transitioned from this world to the next. Aunt Rose was by his side.

My family and I joked about his entrance into heaven and seeing my Dad, his brother-in-law, for the first time in many years. I imagine Daddy smiling while asking, “How ya doin’ there, George? Long time no see!” and hearing Uncle George respond: “Hi, Bill. I had some unfinished business to take care of before coming; but I got here as soon as I was done! Wanna show me around?” I imagine them walking slowly together after my Dad says, “Yeah! Let me show you around heaven.”

 

Tonya Swindell writes a blog for www.inspirenewlife.org and is a teacher for Kingdom Building Equipping School (KBES.com). She can be reached at 1brightot@gmail.com.