A tear fell

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, August 22, 2018

On Aug. 9, Morris told me, “I saw a chariot pulled by six horses approach our town, and an elderly gentleman had his thumb out with a smile on his face. The vehicle stopped, and the gentleman opened the door and entered. As the vehicle pulled away, I saw that it was Jim Jackson, who gave me a nod, a slight wave and smiled.”

Jim was born in 1924. Morris’s ancestors came into Tryon in 1928, when Jim was about 4 years old. Many stories about Jim were passed on by the early Morris’s which, in turn, eventually made their way to our Morris.

One story that was passed down was that Jim was not enamored with being a salesman. He made his trips, but he said that he used many of them to play bridge across the U.S. He was in the ministry; however, that also was too constraining for a man for ALL the people.

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Another story is how he worked for equality while believing that all were due equal rights. Jim worked as an activist in so many ways.

He worked with the civil rights movement; he did a great amount of volunteer service in the Northeast; he worked at Koinonia Farm with Clarence Jordan; he worked with Millard Fuller, who founded Habitat; and he worked to help elect President Jimmy Carter. Most people were told these and other stories, but Mayor Peoples has some other connections with Jim that I know about.

When Alan Peoples was a principal back in the mid 1980s, he met Jim Jackson, and they immediately formed a bond.  Alan’s son, Alan, was Kevin Jackson’s best friend. The two were on the same track and cross-country teams that were coached by coach Peoples.

Mayor Peoples was also a great supporter of the AFS program. When Kevin and Alan graduated in 1987 and went on to higher education, Jim was still working hard to support those who somehow seemed to get the short end of the stick each time they tried something.

He also worked extremely hard at getting people to both go abroad and to come from abroad to our area.

Many times, Jim would contact me and let me know that we were getting a student who could run, jump or throw for track.

In 1989 when the schools consolidated, Coach Peoples went back to being a full-time coach. He has had quite a number of AFS students to compete for him since then. He coached athletes from Germany, Thailand, France, China and many other countries.

Jim once sent him a real prince for his cross-country team.

Jim was also instrumental in getting our students to go to other countries. One, who went in 1996, was recently promoted in service to America as an E-8 Marine. He will soon have completed 20 years of service.

There was a generous side to Jim also. Few know that he made a donation to the track teams that began in 1985, and has continued since then. Those donations have been instrumental in helping lots of Polk County athletes for over 30 years. Jim was also generous in other ways.

In the recent past, Jim would go to his chair in the coffee shop. Invariably Mayor Peoples would show up and would hear something like “What do I need to know?” or “What is happening about town?” He and the mayor would chat, and he would eventually tell us a story, ask coach Peoples some questions about his runners, his children or wanted to know where the mayor was headed since he needed a ride.

Jim made quite a few trips in Peoples’ last two trucks.

Alan took him to sing, home, White Oak, the Seventh Day Adventist Church, to the Triangle or where ever he needed to go.

Morris said that he thinks Jim got to the gate, walked in, sang to the high heavens, and then he asked for a cup of coffee: 12 ounce, Guatemalan, three sugars, lots of cream, no lid and he began looking for Jim’s Chair.

J. Alan Peoples, Mayor, town of Tryon