GALESBURG — From his jobs at local financial institutions to his participation in numerous civic organizations, Jim Jackson was well-known in Galesburg.
But music was his passion.
“It was the core of his being,” said his son Tom Jackson.
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Jim Jackson died Jan. 24 at the age of 83, leaving a legacy of music and involvement to his family and community.
“He was very committed to Galesburg,” said Jackson’s grandson Jackson White.
“The family he married into was from Galesburg and that’s why he moved here. It was his adopted city and he loved it.”
Born in Ontario, Canada, Jackson developed his love of music at a young age and took it with him when he moved to Chicago to finish his education and met his wife, Terry, also a musician. He played trumpet in several Chicago-area bands.
Married in 1961, Jim and Terry settled in Galesburg where he worked at United Federal Bank, First of America Bank and Miller, Dredge Mortgage Services and Insurance. He also taught as a part-time adjunct instructor for business, marketing, Human Resources and labor management at Carl Sandburg College.
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But Jackson also found time to play with the Starlighters Jazz Band, the Rootabaga Jammers, his own Jazz Swingtet, the Knox-Sandburg Community Concert Band he co-founded with Terry, in pit bands for area musical productions and played a euphonium for Tuba Christmas each year.
“I would say I was most proud of the civil war (re-enactment) bands he was in,” said Tom.
“He always loved marching bands and anything that had a lot of brass.
“The big challenge was they had instruments from that period. Basically you were dealing with a 150-year old instrument. They were very difficult. They weren’t tuned to the modern standard.”
Jackson was a member or held office in numerous local organizations to include the Rotary Club and the Stearman Fly-In, where he served as treasurer.
“He was accurate and always on point,” said Bob Harrison, a Stearman board member for 49 years and the retired editor of The Register-Mail.
“He was a talented musician and he helped acquire the first big bands we had when we started a series of Friday night dances at the airport during the Fly-In. One of the most popular was a band called ‘Sentimental Journey.’”
Jackson’s daughter Jenny is a retired high school music teacher and their son Steve earned both a master’s degree and doctorate in music at the University of Illinois and teaches at Carl Sandburg College.
The family tradition detoured slightly around Tom and Jackson who both acquired a passion for sports — particularly baseball.
“I don’t play instruments,” White said. “But in the family you are either the performer or in the audience. My grandpa was both.”
He added, “Everybody enjoys the environment.”
Tom Jackson has found a link between baseball and music in a lesson learned from his father.
“You don’t give up on something you love to do,” he said.
“Although I’m. closing in on 60, I’m one of the oldest guy to play in my 30-and-over baseball league and at 54, I was the oldest to ever hit a home run.
“My dad always pursued the things he loved to do and he did so into his late 70s and early 80s.
He added, “He never tried to be the cool dad, but he was anyway.”