December 24, 1943 – June 12, 2019
This is the story of James L. Jackson. James was a wonderful man who was loved, is missed and forever cherished. “Dear” as he was known to his wife, Sandra and “Hop Hop” as he was known to his granddaughter was the kindest and most humble man most of us knew.
James’ story started on Friday, December 24, 1943 in Binghamton, NY where he would be adopted shortly after birth and become the oldest brother to multiple siblings. He would ultimately survive the avian flu as a teenager and later a car crash that left him in a body cast. His journey truly began after he recovered from the accident.
James decided to buy a car and travel across the United States after recovering, living in Virginia and California along the way. His family often asked him to recall his journeys out on the open road as he lived the life of a free-spirited wanderer. We listened in awe as he described his time in different places across the United States, especially places like Arizona where he would have long conversations and a drink with strangers or the time he traveled on motorcycle and was assaulted by the occupants of a dirty diaper as he tried to pass a family in a station wagon. But his free-spirited travelling days would dwindle as he had children and eventually married.
James would meet his wife, Sandra of 36 years and go on to have two more children. After working as a mechanic, gas station attendant, and a dairy farm worker, he settled into a position as a custodian for the Moravia School District where he would spend the next 16 years before retiring. After retiring in 2014, James and Sandy began the next chapter in their lives by moving to New Mexico to be closer to family. There he would get to spend time with family, travel a bit around the state, and meet his granddaughter who ended up having blue eyes just like his and being quite the little love in his life. He will forever be her Hop Hop.
James was known for many things by his family. He was a hero to his two younger kids and wife. In 1989 right before Christmas, James saved his two young children (then 4 and 2) from their burning home. He saved their lives. He was also an animal whisperer of sorts; always talking to the birds and having butterflies land on his fingers. They too must have sensed his kind and gentle demeanor. But on the opposite side of the spectrum he was known for being able to throw together a whole slew of cusswords like no one’s business, usually while working on cars. He was known for always making the time to stop and talk to those he knew and even those he didn’t know, like a door to door salesman. His time was never too precious to lend someone an ear. He was passionate about his family, his time racing stockcars, his career as a custodian and classic automobiles. He loved to put together & paint models (he was damn good at it), drink a good cup of coffee, snack on cookies or lays potato chips, and of course-go on car rides.
When James was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer in 2019, he maintained a positive attitude. He fought valiantly and he won. Cancer never took away the amazing husband, father or person that he was. It didn’t take away his time sitting outside and watching the birds while he spent time with his family. He was able to spend his last days surrounded by family in his home. It may have taken his body, but his soul is forever free, and he will forever live on in our hearts and stories. We will keep writing our own story and telling his until we meet again.
We love and miss our Dear, Dad, and Hop Hop. We feel so privileged to have had him in our lives as a Father, Grandfather, friend, and/or family member.
Per his wishes he will be cremated without services. We would like to give special thanks to our Compassus Hospice Team for walking alongside us on this journey.