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Alfred L. Jackson was one of oldest Eagle Scouts

Alfred L. Jackson

Alfred L. Jackson

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Updated: February 23, 2013 5:03PM

Alfred L. Jackson attended the first National Jamboree of the Boy Scouts of America in 1937 in Washington, D.C., where President Franklin D. Roosevelt was a guest of honor.

More than 72 years later, Mr. Jackson could still recite the Scout Oath. In a YouTube video posted by his family, he is dressed in his uniform, holding three fingers aloft in the Scout Sign. He was 88, and something tugs at the heart when his unwavering, reedy voice promises “to keep myself physically strong.”

“Mr. Jackson is one of the oldest living Eagle Scouts that has continued his service to Scouting for more than 75 years,” said Renee Fairrer, public relations manager for the Boy Scouts of America.

He died Nov. 21 at Belmont Village Glenview at 91.

Somewhere in his big house in Evanston was a handkerchief with a lipstick imprint from that saronged siren of the silver screen, Dorothy Lamour. As a big ROTC man on campus, he was tapped to escort her when she toured Purdue University.

After World War II, he brought home a German war bride. It wasn’t easy at first. His Jewish mother was brought up short when she heard her first grandchild speaking her first words in German. But Evelyn, his wife of 53 years until her death in 2000, won over the Jacksons with her devotion to family, her work ethic and her charm.

During his life, he donated blood an estimated 360 times — six times a year, for more than 60 years. LifeSource Blood Center estimates that every donation has the potential to save up to three lives. That would mean he helped as many as 1,080 people.

Mr. Jackson was born in Chicago to Julian and Ida Jackson. His father, who was nearly 50 when Mr. Jackson was born, worked for Western Electric. Julian Jackson helped light up the “White City,” the 1892 World’s Columbian Exposition. His mother was from the family that founded the Woolf department stores of Kansas City, Mo.

Ida and Julian moved to Evanston, where Mr. Jackson lived in the family home until a stroke at 86 resulted in his move to Belmont Village.

He ice-skated at Evanston’s Ackerman Park, swam at Lighthouse Beach and joined the Scouts at 12. He attended Evanston Township High School before heading to Purdue University, where he studied chemical engineering.

After college, he joined the Army. He was a forward observer in the field artillery with the 87th Infantry Division in Germany, said his son, David. After the war, he was assigned to work on the stabilization of the city of Plauen. Later he worked at the Frankfurt offices of the Reichsbank, then the central bank of Germany.

Young Erika Nuernberger applied for a job as a translator at the bank. The German-born woman was fluent in English because she spent her grade-school years in New Jersey. Her family moved back to Germany when she was high-school age.

Mr. Jackson already had a translator, “but he fell in instant love with this good-looking gal who came in, and he hired her, too,” said their daughter, Dorothy Jackson. (They named her Dorothy, because he had always liked Lamour.)

After the war, he brought Erika to the United States and married her. She changed her name to Evelyn because she thought it sounded more American, David Jackson said.

Mr. Jackson continued his education at Northwestern University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in business and an MBA, said his son, Richard.

He owned and operated a chemical storage warehouse at 1107 S. Washtenaw. Mr. Jackson served in the Army Reserves and achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Even after his boys were grown, he remained active with the Scouts. He marched in Evanston’s Central Street Fourth of July parade from about 1951 to 1986. Every year, the Jacksons threw an Independence Day party for more than 100 people at their home, where they flew an American flag that measured 25-by-15 feet. Evanston firefighters borrowed it for a 9/11 commemoration, his family said.

At 86, for fun, he ran at a surprisingly peppy pace in a neighborhood 60-yard dash in Evanston.

“He was a real gentleman,” said Jack Mortell, a member of the U.S. Speedskating Hall of Fame and former U.S. Olympic head coach for short track speed-skating. “He never talked about himself. He was interested in you.”

Mr. Jackson lived the Scout philosophy of always trying to do good deeds. “He had a deaf cousin who I know needed help later in life, and my father would go and help him, kind of clean up his apartment,” his daughter Dorothy said. “He’d look in on him, and he’d take care of his mother when she got older.”

And, “In true Scout fashion, he donated his body to science,” David Jackson said. “He wanted his organs and everything to be studied to help mankind.”

Mr. Jackson is also survived by his sons Robert and Walter, and 12 grandchildren.

A memorial is planned at 2 p.m. Dec. 26 at Northminster Presbyterian Church, 2515 Central Park Ave., Evanston. Though the family didn’t regularly attend church or temple, they trooped there once a year to mark Scout Sunday.


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