dr martens bag Larry Jackson
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Dr. Larry Artope Jackson, President of Lander University from 1973 to 1992, passed from this life November 7th, 2017, after several weeks visiting with family and friends while cared for at Hospice House, Greenwood. The family is grateful for the exceptional support from hospice caregivers.
Larry and his twin brother Rhett were born in Florence, SC, to Arthur Edward Jackson, a train conductor, and Rosa Gilbert Jackson, a school teacher. He was preceded in death by his three older brothers, Gilbert, Stoney, and Arthur, his sister King, and his twin. He is survived by his wife Barbara Atwood Jackson with whom he enjoyed 64 years of marriage, his four children Libby Eble (m. Tim), Arthur (m. Cathy Daskalakis), Barbara Allen (m. William), and Rhett (m. Diana), his eight grandchildren William Allen, Emma Allen, Annie Allen, Jackson Allen, Matthew Eble, Sarah Leddy, Jackson Jackson, and Cassandra Jackson, and his two great grandchildren Rosie Allen and Ben Eble.
Larry described his boyhood in small town Florence as idyllic, framed by hunting and playing on his father’s small farm, swimming, fishing, and canoeing in Black Creek, driving a laundry delivery truck, and working as a soda jerk. With financial support from his older brothers, he began his collegiate studies at Wofford College before volunteering to join the Army Air Corps when he came of age in WWII. He became a navigator of B 17 bombers in the 388th bomb group flying from Knettishall, England, and he flew 26 missions before VE day for which he was awarded the Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters. First Lieutenant Jackson finished his Bachelor’s degree at Wofford after the war and returned to the ruins of Munich, Germany to work with the American Friends Service Committee teaching in displaced person camps and setting up a library and study center. This experience would strongly influence his later career in higher education.
Larry then studied with renowned theologians Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, earning a Master’s in Divinity. After teaching mathematics at a boys high school where he was the most unlikely of soccer coaches, he became the Associate Pastor at the First Methodist Church in Florence. In 1957, Larry and four other South Carolina pastors compiled a series of essays in a small book called “South Carolinians Speak: A Moderate Approach to Race Relations.” In the short term, this publication created controversy, drawing some praise but widespread condemnation. The house of one of the ministers was dynamited and two pastors lost their jobs. In the long term, this publication may have hastened the integration of the Methodist Church in the southeast, as it motivated Larry’s twin brother Rhett to make this a part of his life’s work, and he successfully worked with many collaborators to achieve this goal. Larry and his twin Rhett were tightly bound in thought, sentiment,
interests, and activities throughout their lives.
Larry moved his young family to Santiago, Chile where he was pastor of the American Church, and then headmaster of Santiago College, a K 12 girls preparatory school. His international experiences taught him that travel was valuable for not only understanding the world, but for understanding one’s own country. Larry became Provost of Callison College, part of the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA, and there he developed a study abroad program in Bangalore, India. He and his family lived in Bangalore during the second year of the program. At Pacific he earned a second MA in education. In 1970 he became the Vice President for Finance at the University of Evansville in Indiana where he again set up an international study abroad program in Harlaxton, England.
Dr. Jackson was hired as the first President of Lander College after it joined the state system of public colleges and universities. After roaming the nation and the world, he was pleased to be back in his home state. He served as Lander President for nineteen years, overseeing the modernization of the campus, the expansion of academic and overseas programs, and substantial increases in enrollment. In 1977, the new Lander Library was dedicated in Larry’s name, to which he said “this building will hover over my head like a giant conscience that will make me strive to do the best I can for the students and the college.”
Larry was very active in civic activities during and following his Presidency at Lander. He chaired boards for Greenwood County Children’s’ Center and the Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics, and he served as President of United Way Greenwood and Greenwood Rotary. His long term interests in history and education were reflected in his activities with The Caroliniana at USC, SC Historical Society, Benjamin E. Mays Museum Board, SC Humanities Council, SC Alliance for Children, Greenwood Enrichment Foundation, and Society of Values in Higher Education. Larry was a visiting fellow at Wolfson College at Cambridge University and at Lanzhou University in China. In recognition of his contributions to higher education, Clemson, the University of the Pacific, Wofford, and Lander awarded honorary doctorates to Larry. On his retirement, Governor Campbell awarded him the Order of the Palmetto for his service to the state.
It was not his accomplishments or his awards, however, for which Larry was valued by friends, colleagues and acquaintances. Rather it was his thoughtfulness, graciousness, caring, and serenity that brought people to him for counsel and comfort. Larry saw the good in everyone and motivated them to be better. He was an example that wisdom shines through humility.
Larry and Barbara retired in Greenwood, and Larry remained involved with fundraising and outreach for Lander as a President Emeritus. They became very active in the Greenwood Food Bank, where Larry could be found bagging groceries with a circle of friends. He also wrote a novel based on his wartime experiences: “The Serpent of War: Beguiles Us To Do Evil in the Name of Good.” Larry was happy to be given a small part in the modernization and new construction of Greenwood 50 Schools. He considered our public schools to be essential to the health of the nation. In 2015, on the occasion of Larry’s 90th birthday, Senator Nicholson sponsored, and the SC Senate passed, a resolution commemorating some of the milestones in his life. In retirement, many of Larry’s dearest friends were the same Lander faculty, staff, and supporters with whom he had enjoyed working.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that gifts be made to the Lander Scholarship Fund, Lander Foundation, 320 Stanley Avenue, 29649. A service in memory of Larry A. Jackson will be held at December 9 at 2 PM at Josephine B. Abney Cultural Center Auditorium, Lander University. The family will visit with friends in the Larry A. Jackson Library after the service.
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