Originally created 05/12/05

Featured obituary: Elijah Jackson Sr.



When Elijah Jackson Sr. died Saturday at age 97, he left friends and family with many memories. Roy Dwight "Ike" Carpenter says what he remembers most was Mr. Jackson's talent for weaving baskets and caning chairs.

"Mr. Elijah showed me some things about splitting woods and making baskets," said Mr. Carpenter, a professional woodworker who carves spoons out of wood and sells his wares at craft shows throughout the Southeast.

"I used to sit and talk to him, and try to learn all I could from him," he said.

Mr. Jackson's caning skills were often used in reinforcing the seats of chairs, and his skills were unmatched, Mr. Carpenter said.

Mr. Carpenter said he recalls the "friendly chats" he had with Mr. Jackson when the older man was a custodian at Strom Thurmond High School in the early 1960s.

His children also remember Mr. Jackson's influence.

"He was sort of strict, but always stuck with his morals," said his daughter Margaret Gray.

"If you happened to make a mistake, he'd never forget," Ms. Gray said.

"He may not discipline you at the time, but he may wait for the next time you really wanted to do something and then remind you of how you didn't do right the previous time."

He was a Johnston, S.C., native who developed a well-respected reputation, said Ms. Gray, who is one of his four daughters. He also has four sons.

"He was very religious and loved his community - just a great father for all of us," she said.

Her father gained the respect of many of Edgefield's citizens, including the late Sen. J. Strom Thurmond.

He was a friend of Mr. Thurmond, considering that the two were born in the same era, she said.

"Strom respected him very much, and when Strom would come to the high school, 'Grandaddy' always greeted him," said daughter-in-law Mary Alice Jackson.

She's married to Elijah Jackson Jr.

"They all knew him as 'Lige,'" she said.

Mr. Jackson was a deacon, trustee and senior choir member at Bland Baptist Church in Johnston, Ms. Gray said.

"Although he only had a third-grade education, my father handled himself as if he were a well-educated man."

He also loved to fish and hunt, and was a "proud farmer and share-cropper who always had his own livestock and vegetables" after Mr. Jackson retired from his job at Strom Thurmond High School, his daughter said.

He was preceded in death by his wife of 58 years, Lillie Bell (Mathis) Jackson, who died in 1989.

Other survivors include 24 grandchildren, 33 great-grandchildren and 19 great-great-grandchildren.

Reach Timothy Cox at (706) 823-3217 or tim.cox@augustachronicle.com.