Tribute to the NWAC's "Most Interesting Man" Mr. Jim Jackson
On October 10, 2018, our family lost our dear friend James Earnest Jackson Jr, (Jim Jackson) after a courageous battle against cancer and other ailments. He was 67 years old. Born to Dorothy L. Reed and James E. Jackson, Sr., he graduated as an honor student from Caledonia –Mumford Central High School after a distinguished prep career as a champion wrestler and football player.
Jim entered the Naval Academy as a member of 9th Company, Class of 1973, transferring to 31st Company after plebe year. He was a varsity wrestler under legendary coach Ed Peery. Upon graduation with a degree in Operations Research on June 6, 1973, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant of the Marines. During his career, he served in various leadership positions in the U.S. and overseas as a civil engineer. He made significant athletic contributions to the U.S. Marine Corps and the nation by distinguished service for five years as the U.S. Marine Corps and Inter-service Wrestling Coach.
After leaving active duty, Jim earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Iowa in 1982 and Master's degree in Exercise Science from Portland State University in 1989. He taught and coached wrestling at Clear Creek High School in Tiffin, Iowa. Moving west, he joined the athletic department at Clackamas Community College where he served with distinction for six years as wrestling coach and for seventeen years as Athletic Director.
On May 2, 2015, Jim was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma. He is a member of the Clackamas Community College and Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC) Halls of Fame and supported wrestling for years as an official. The Oregon Chapter honored him with a National Lifetime Service to Wrestling Award. During his illustrious career, Jim coached, among others, Lloyd Keaser (Olympic Silver Medalist, 1976, and World Champion, 1973), Greg Gibson (Olympic Silver Medalist, 1984), Matt Lindland, (Olympic Silver Medalist, 2000) and Dan Mello, (World Champion Runner-Up 2001, five-time U.S. Open Greco-Roman Champion and Olympian).
During his tenure at Clackamas, the college's athletic programs won 40 conference championships. At ClCC, he affected many student-athletes and staff members. He created a familial culture where staff members and their families were quite welcome to be a part of the athletic department. It was quite common to see the children of staff members playing basketball at the halftimes of Cougar basketball games.
Upon retiring in 2009, he worked 6.5 years for the NWAC as Compliance Manager and served two years on the NWAC Executive Board. Jim’s integrity, service to others, and compassion for student-athletes were always at the core of his decisions. Any time there was a need, Jim would be the first to volunteer and get involved. He enjoyed people and loved working with student-athletes. He would say that he never really worked a day in his life, because he loved what he was doing. Jim was “the closer” when it came time to selling merchandise at NWAC Championships. His regard for others, his principles, and genuine spirit affected all of us in ways that made him bigger in our eyes. Jim will be remembered affectionately as the “Most Interesting Man” in the NWAC.
As his classmates and friends knew, Jim loved Russia and Russian history. He studied the language, learned to send semaphore in Russian and toured Russia in 2004 with a student group, traveling from Moscow to Siberia on the historic Trans-Siberian Railroad. In addition, he deeply enjoyed Shakespeare and treasured the education he received from his excellent teachers and professors. Jim was a great teacher/leader because he never stopped learning.
As he battled his illness, he never uttered a complaint, always remaining positive and firmly believing he would lick his ailments. Several classmates were able to visit him during his treatment. Over 300 friends, family and former student-athletes attended a celebration of Jim's life on Friday, November 2, 2018, at Clackamas Community College. The USNA Class of 1973 honorably represented by Mike Seiwald who reported that it was evident from the tributes that Jim touched many lives in the most positive way during his years at the college.
Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” There is no doubt that Jim Jackson made our lives better by what he gave, and what he gave unconditionally was himself.
His sister, Beverly Jackson of Portland, Oregon and by his longtime partner, Mary Dykes, and her family, survives Jim. In lieu of flowers or other donations, the family asks that donations in Jim's name be made to Clackamas Community College Foundation Attention: Athletic Fund for Excellence, 19600 S. Molalla Avenue, Oregon City, Oregon 97045