For nearly three decades, students and student athletes knew him as Mr. Jackson or simply, Coach. To many friends, he was “Chollie,” and was quick with a smile and a compliment. And, to hundreds of veterans of the military and their dependents, Charles Franklin “Charlie” Jackson was a man who cared and got things done.
Jackson passed away Thursday, Feb. 26 at Northwest Louisiana Veterans’ Home in Bossier City just two days short of his 81st birthday. He was laid to rest Sunday, March 1 in Springhill Cemetery with full U.S. Navy and Masonic graveside rites.
Jackson served four years in the Navy, including a tour during the Korean War. Following his honorable discharge, he attended Southern State College in Magnolia, Arkansas before obtaining his bachelor’s degree in education from Northeast University, today’s University of Louisiana-Monroe.
Jackson received his master’s degree from Mississippi College in Clinton, Mississippi and master’s plus-30 from Louisiana Tech. He retired following 29 years as a teacher and coach in the Webster Parish school system and began a second career with the Louisiana Office of Veterans’ Affairs, serving the men and women who had served their country.
“In his civilian life, he did more to assist our military veterans than anyone I know,” retired Lt. Col. Carl Thompson, Louisiana National Guard, said when Jackson retired as Webster’s veterans’ affairs officer in December 2013 after 26 years.
“He provided assistance to our military veterans here in Webster Parish and also in Bossier and Caddo parishes and other parts of the state and nation. He became known throughout the nation as an expert in assisting military veterans,” Thompson said.
Gary Holloway is one veteran who knows first hand how hard Jackson fought the military bureaucracy to get “his vets” the benefits they deserve. Holloway served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam part of 1967, all of 1968 and a portion of 1969. Later, he found himself battling the effects of Agent Orange and receiving no assistance from his government.
“I went a lot of years without receiving any compensation for Agent Orange and Charlie worked on that for me,” Holloway remembered. “He was able to help me. He got me 70 percent disability because of my heart and diabetes. I had open heart surgery and Charlie got hold of all this and sent it to the VA and I get a check every month now to help me with my medicines and all sorts of stuff.”
Holloway says he remembers Jackson as a good man who was always smiling.
“He just made you feel comfortable about going in there and getting some help. He treated everybody that way…he had a great demeanor about him,” he said.
Holloway, who retired from the Webster Parish school system after 33 years in the classrooms, also remembers the other Charlie Jackson who spent years as a teacher, coach and referee.
“He refereed basketball and football when I was a kid in school,” Holloway said. “He was very level-headed and did an excellent job. He never taught me, but I know he was a good educator. I always admired him and looked up to him.”
Through his efforts in the Veterans’ Affairs office, Jackson helped bring millions of dollars in economic impact to this area, says Dr. Richard Campbell, a Vietnam War veteran.
“The Department of Veterans’ Affairs, that particular entity literally funneled untold millions of dollars into this community,” Campbell said.
“There are people on disability plus various veterans’ and dependents’ benefits. Charlie passionately fought for veterans’ rights and for getting funding for their various disabilities and benefits for the widow.”
Campbell’s closest association with Jackson was through the American Legion.
“Further, and somewhat selfishly, he was the individual who oversaw the American Legion Hall for years and years. He rented it out, received the deposits, looked after various maintenance and certainly, to the Legion, he was an extremely valuable asset,” Campbell said.
“Everyone was special to him, and he was compassionate to everyone who came in,” he added.
Retired educator J.R. Boyett says he knew Jackson since their high school days dating back to 1950 or ’51. The pair umpired “some baseball and called a little basketball” together, and he recalls Jackson as being an easy-going person, on and off baseball fields and basketball courts.
“He got along pretty well with everybody. He was a good guy,” Boyett said.