Fred Thomas Jackson transitioned to his final rest on December, 21, 2020. Pete, as he was affectionately called by his family, was a son of a sharecropper, born November 2, 1939 in Wadesboro, North Carolina to the late Laura Ross and Collins Jackson. He lived on ten farms in and around Anson and Union Counties. His family moved eight times before he was 9 years old, but he spent a large part of his childhood on Hamp Brewer’s Farm. He graduated first in his class from East Polkton High School in 1957.
Seven months after high school Fred enlisted in the United States Navy and took his first ever airplane flight January 1958 from Raleigh, North Carolina to Washington, D.C. and then on to his first duty station in Chicago. Over the next 21 years, Fred worked his way up the ranks to become a chief petty officer, hospital medical corpsman. Despite discriminatory obstructions to further promotional opportunities, he was a well-decorated and devoted seaman, serving courageously in the Vietnam War from 1969 – 1970 aboard the USS Sanctuary and the USS Clark County, and being awarded the Navy Achievement Medal. His numerous deployments included service aboard Minesweepers USS Notable MSO-460 and USS Ability MSO-519; Hospital Ship USS Sanctuary AH-17, Tank Landing Ship USS Clark County LST-601 and the Helicopter Landing Ship, USS Guam LPH-9. He also spent considerable time serving as a fleet Marine Force medical corpsman with the First, Second, and Third Marine divisions. Additionally, he served at several medical facilities including three years at Preventive Medicine Unit #2 in Norfolk, Virginia; two years at Naval Hospital Philadelphia, one year at Naval Hospital Rhode Island, 18 months at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and two years at Navy and Marine Corps Reserve Training Center Charlotte, North Carolina. He was exceptionally proud of his tenure in the military and his trek over six continents fed his life-long thirst for travel and exploration.
After retiring from the military in 1979, Fred returned to Charlotte, N.C. and became an entrepreneur, starting and owning Complete Cleaning. His janitorial service provided jobs for many North Carolinians, including several members of his family. He was also senior chief editor for the Charlotte Observer along with being senior lead X ray technician at CMC Main - Charlotte Memorial Hospital which is known today as Atrium Health. Local youth, including his son and son’s childhood friends, benefited from his leadership of then Mayor Harvey B. Gantt’s summer youth employment program. His work in the community landed him on the cover of Community Pride magazine.
Later in life, he worked with the Census Bureau and continued feeding his passion for knowledge taking several courses at the Carolina Community College. One course in particular ignited his passion for writing and he wrote and published the book Highway to My Way, a Trip of Fears, Jeers, Cheers and Tears; a memoir detailing his childhood adventures and military travails from age 18 to 39.
Fred often referred to himself as a poor farmer’s boy and shared his many stories of country life with his four children and friends. Long before video streaming platforms, he would capture family memories on reel-to-reel tapes and had a treasure trove of nostalgic memorabilia all around his domain. He always stayed abreast of the latest current events and politics, but his greatest pastime was music, especially country. If you called him and caught his voicemail you might get a glimpse of his smooth, melodic voice bellowing out an old Johnny Cash tune.
Fred is survived by his children that will forever cherish his memory: Rachel Burns (Polkton, NC), Tomiko Jackson Nichols (Doraville, GA), Victoria Kymyarda “Kym” Jackson-Crooms (Atlanta, GA), and Kenyatta “Kenny” Thomas Cabral (Charlotte, NC); a loving and devoted brother, Bobby Eugene “Bob” Jackson; grandchildren: David J. Crooms, Ceraya C. Nichols, Darohn S. “Shad” Crooms, Rasheed Burns, Samanda S. Nichols and Victoria V. Nichols; and several nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. He was preceded in death by two brothers: Brite Jackson and Collins “Eddie” Jackson Jr. and by eight sisters: Reverend Johnsie Ponds, Fannie Rushing, Laura “Bean” Thomas, Maude “Marie” Hicks, Ellen “Docia” Williams, Dorothy “Studie” Timberlake, Flora Smith, and Gladys “Wheetie” Thomas.
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