Pastors' Memoirs

Thomas Elgin Jackson, 1924-1998

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  In God’s perfect timing, and not ours, the invitation was extended to Tom to join Christ in eternity last November. For us, a kind and gentle witness which spanned some 74 years ended too soon.

  Over five decades ago, this "Carolina guy" met a "Dismal Swamp gal" and they headed north for the hills of Virginia. Along the way they collected three children who would eventually grow into the "Jackson Clan." Answering the call to ordained ministry, they would find themselves either "near the water" or "in the hills" in their appointments. They served central Virginia, the Northern Neck, the Peninsula, Southside, the Valley, and the Piedmont region. Over the years, Appomattox grew to become "home-base." All along the way, so many lives were blessed by Tom and Daphne. It was impossible not to love him. Every place they served was "the best place" and he was ever ready to boast on the fine people he and Daphne were privileged to serve.

  Tom Jackson wore many hats — Christian, husband, father, grandfather, pastor, mentor, NASCAR fan. Hopefully, it was in that order, but on occasion, the priorities were probably a little "messed up." Regardless of his hat, his unmistakable and unrelenting love was abundantly evident.

  For me, two words seem paramount regarding my dear friend. First, we know "Who he was," "what he was," and now "where he is." He was human, a people-person. We laughed a lot, worked together, prayed together, vacationed together, shared a mutual love for cars and trucks, and developed a relationship not unlike children and parents. Rare were the occasions when he did not wear a smile.

  Second, Tom was the embodiment of "servanthood." The strength of his witness was pastoral; the strength of his pastorates was his loving witness. He earned a Purple Heart during World War II, was a volunteer police chaplain, hospital chaplain and served in rescue squads and other civic organizations. The epitome of his service though, rested with the pastoral ministry. It would have been very rare for him not to have faithfully trudged off to "wherever" to help "whomever" through "whatever." That’s what being a pastor meant.

  Able to visit with him less than a week before his death, he was working on a sermon. He did a poor job of saying "no"; he retired about three times — he just couldn’t get that part right! The servanthood-drive was still going strong.

  I am grateful to the Rev. Doug Gilfillan, the Rev. Ronnie Morris, the Rev. David Drinkard, the Rev. Vernie Barrow, and to Mrs. Rhonda Crowley (Tom and Daphne’s granddaughter) for their assistance with the service of worship and celebration at Memorial Church, Appomattox. We are so very appreciative to: Daphne; son, Mike and his wife, Nancy; daughter, Cindy and her husband, Ronnie; granddaughter, Rhonda, her husband, Jim and children, Jimmy; and Breanna; grandson David and his fiancee, Kelly; and daughter, Sharon, and her children, Justin, Seth and Ashton, for sharing Tom with us. Burial was in Old Herman Methodist Cemetery on the Appomattox surrender grounds. To many of us, this seemed very fitting for one who had surrendered his life to Christ and who then unselfishly gave his service for others.

— Richard T. Woodall



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Background photos courtesy of VDOT.

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