James “Jack” Jackson ’68

James Alexander (Jack) Jackson, 8/11/46 – 3/18/23  Jack was born in Bad Reichenhall,  Bavaria, Germany to his mother Vivian Villers, an Estonian relocated to Germany by the Nazis during World War II, and his father James Jackson, a US soldier from Bennettsville, South Carolina who died soon after the war.  The Jackson family sponsored the immigration of Jack, his mother, grandmother and great aunt to the US in 1949.  They settled in Winston-Salem, North Carolina where they were active in the Estonian community. Jack was adopted by his grandfather Jackson and regularly visited his South Carolina family as a child.  Although Jack’s first language was German, he quickly acclimated to his adopted country.  A good student and athlete in public schools, Jack earned his BA from Davidson University with honors and was awarded a Fulbright/DAAD scholarship to Germany for 1968-69 in Bonn. He utilized this time not only to study European Intellectual History and advance his German language skills but also to travel extensively in Europe and make lasting friendships.  In 1969, Jack came to the University of Minnesota for graduate studies in European History, worked as a residence assistant in Middlebrook Hall and as a History Department teaching assistant while earning his MA in European History. Soon after his arrival in MN, Jack joined the US Army Reserves, Civil Affairs unit, retiring as a Major in 1986.  During his service in 1975 he was called to active duty at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, to administer the relocation of Vietnam refugees. 

In 1976, Jack Jackson changed his professional career focus, enrolling in the UMN School of Public Affairs, now the Humphrey Institute, where he earned his MA in public administration.  Jack interned at the MN Housing Finance Agency and was subsequently hired there as a financial analyst.  He retired in 2008 with 30 years of service to the Agency where his work advanced the building of hundreds of affordable housing projects across Minnesota.  Jack Jackson was committed to providing safe, attractive affordable housing for all people.  He was proud to have his career contribute to the MN Housing Finance Agency and to work with professional colleagues he admired and valued.                                                                                                                   

Jack Jackson was active in DFL politics and a committed progressive.  He attended DFL caucuses, was a delegate to conventions, worked to elect many candidates, drop literature, door knock and served as the campaign treasurer for State Representative Lee Greenfield.  He was an aggressive racketball player and soccer enthusiast.  Jack also was a devoted advocate of the arts; particularly enjoying jazz at the Dakota and attending poetry readings and the local theater.  Jack was a renaissance person who enjoyed nothing more than a long conversation that ranged from current events to 18th century European history to world geography and contemporary literature and the arts.  To his last day, our friend Jack the intellectual raconteur was with us.  We are so blessed to have him in our lives and our south Minneapolis community for 50 plus years.

Jack was preceded in death by his life partner of 40 years, Susan “Sue” Grieger (passed in 10/2021), his mother Vivian Villers, his maternal grandmother and great aunt, his father James Jackson, the South Carolina grandparents and family and friend Dennis Anderson.  He is survived by his friends of 50 years, Rudi and Diann Anders, Jeffrey Loesch and Kathleen O’Brien and Marcia Greenfield, sister-in-law Darline Wieland of Ohio and her family and many friends and colleagues. To honor Jack’s memory, donations are suggested to Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative (2610 University Ave W, St Paul, MN 55114,  https://www.beaconinterfaith.org ) or Common Bond Communities (1080 Montreal Ave., St. Paul, MN  55116    https://comonbond.org)

Memorial service at 11 AM Wednesday, April 19, 2023, at the Lakewood Garden Mausoleum Room #1 at 3600 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis 55408.