William Frank Jackson, former owner of the Advance Monticellionian, died early Thursday morning at his home. He was 81.
He was the son of the late William Marion and Nina Virginia Jackson of McGehee.
Jackson and his wife, Mary Emily Clower Jackson were publishers of the Advance Monticellonian newspaper from 1964 until 1996. They began their journalism careers at The Times in McGehee, Arkansas in 1962. They moved from McGehee to Monticello in 1964 when Jackson’s father purchased The Advance Monticellonian after a fire destroyed the newspaper’s building.
In addition to his involvement in the newspaper business, Jackson was a radio control aircraft enthusiast, opening Advance Hobbies in the late 1990s. He was introduced to radio control aircraft models by Dr. John Dougherty, a former UAM music department director. Later the two, along with Bobby and Cherie Bradford of Warren, two Monticello mayors, and the Monticello City Council, would help organize the existing Southeast Arkansas Modelers Club. Jackson fondly recalled his first “solo” flight in a pasture at UAM with “flight instructor” Dr. Dougherty (with 4 inches of snow on the ground and a chilly 19 degree temperature) as more exciting than soloing his first full-size aircraft in the Air Force. He and Mary Emily remained supporters of the local club and helped find and construct the club’s existing flying site on the banks of Lake Monticello. Later, the club honored him by naming the field for him; he thought the field should have been named after the Bradfords, whom he credited as “the most responsible people for the success and continuance of the sport in Southeast Arkansas.”
Jackson was also an avid hunter, fisherman, golfer and tennis player.
He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Mary Emily, and their four children — William Stuart Jackson and his wife Christy of Little Rock, Elizabeth Brooke Smith of Monticello, Julie Catherine Jackson of Monticello and John Flannery Jackson of Monticello. He is also survived by two grandchildren, Kathleen Emily Jackson and Connor William Jackson, both of Little Rock. His older sister, Etta Marion Williams and husband William W. Williams Jr. of McGehee and their children (William W. Williams III and Susan Williams Zalnis and their children and grandchildren) also survive him.
Jackson was a 1953 graduate of McGehee High School and a 1957 graduate of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville (Sigma Chi), where he earned a Bachelor of Science in business, with a minor in journalism. Upon graduation from college, he was commissioned as an officer in the United States Air Force and underwent pilot training. He served four years and was honorably discharged. He retired from the Air Force Reserve as a Captain.
Jackson was a member of the First United Methodist Church where he served in various roles, including youth Sunday School teacher and board member. Jackson also completed a series of Methodist Bible studies, and for four years led the Wednesday evening gatherings. He later participated in a weekly, all denominational Bible study under the leadership of Dick Kluender, whom he considered his spiritual leader.
Jackson’s other community activities included being a member of the local Rotary Club, where he was named a Paul Harris Fellow; being a member of the Monticello Chamber of Commerce and its Board of Directors; being a member of the Board of Directors of Union Bank and Trust; being a member of Twenty for the Future in Monticello; being selected as the Red Cross “Man of the Year”; being named to the DeSoto Area Boy Scout board (although he couldn’t serve due to health issues); and being a member of the organizing committee for Delta Counseling, later serving on its board of directors for about ten years. He was also a member of the original committee that planned and successfully developed Monticello’s Educational, Medical and Cultural Complex.
Despite all of these activities over the course of his 81 years, his most enjoyable times in life came when he was fishing with Mary Emily. She could out-fish and outlast him at any time and on any lake, river or stream.
Funeral service will be held Saturday at 2 p.m. at Stephenson-Dearman Funeral Chapel with Rev. Dennis Spence officiating. Burial will follow in Oakland Cemetery in Monticello.
Family visitation will be from 1 p.m. until service time Saturday.
Memorials may be given to First United Methodist Church, 317 South Main, Monticello; Paws Animal Shelter, P O Box 126, Monticello, AR; American Heart Assoc., 909 W. 2nd, Little Rock, AR 72201.