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1930 Richard 2020

Richard Thomas Jackson

January 19, 1930 — August 12, 2020

Richard Thomas Jackson, PhD, passed on 08/12/2020.
As he was so fond of saying, “Uh oh!” and “It will never work.” If there is an afterlife, he arrives admittedly unprepared.
“Dick” to his friends, “Pop” to his family, he was born in Detroit, Michigan on 01/19/1930, the second of two sons. At the time of his birth, his Polish, Catholic family changed their surname from Jakubowicz to Jackson because of employment discrimination. At age five he contracted German Measles. This resulted in a year spent in his bedroom with the curtains drawn and with resulting lifelong nystagmus, a continuous and rhythmic, horizontal twitching of the eye. The military would later judge him 4F, but this did not keep him from excelling in academics and sports. At a citywide sports banquet, the Detroit Free Press took a picture of him shaking the hand of Frank Leahy, the football coach at Notre Dame, and put it on their front page. “Pop” declined a scholarship, saying that he was going to college to become a scientist.
After graduating Detroit Mercy and then the University of Detroit, he went south to do graduate study at Florida State University. FSU had just changed from an exclusively girl’s school, and the culture shock for a northern boy was profound. He almost immediately met and married Astrid Karen Tindall, a freshman at the college and a dead ringer for Grace Kelly. The rest of his life he felt that in marrying her he was punching above his weight class, unable to believe his luck. Marrying a Presbyterian had the consequence of getting him shunned from his strict, Catholic family, a turn of events that helped lead him away from faith, hence the “unpreparedness” acknowledged earlier if he unexpectedly meets his Maker.
He then went on to complete studies at Loyola University in New Orleans, which resulted in a PhD in pharmacology and physiology of the special senses (the study of sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, and balance). He took a research position at Emory University School of Medicine in the department of ENT. There he went on to become one of the world’s leading experts on drug effects on the nose, the eustachian tube of the ear, as well as in the evaluation and treatment of vertigo. He published over a hundred peer-reviewed articles and was an editor of major medical research journals. His fame in the field enabled him to travel, giving guest lectures in Europe, Scandinavia, and Israel. He taught for three months in Kagashima, Japan, bringing his flamboyant and funny wife along.
Dick and Astrid were famous for their potato pancake holiday parties in their home on Lullwater Road as well as weekend get togethers in their modest cabin on Lake Rabun. The lake house was a family and friend magnet until Astrid’s death. People would often be strewn sleeping all over the living room and boat dock, with no phone, no television, and all fun. Evenings would be filled with jokes, stories, music, board and card games. Days were filled with floating in the water of the cove, canoeing, sailing the Styrofoam boat, golf at the nine-hole public golf course in Clayton, blueberry-picking, waterfall trekking, “chunky-dunking”, and skinny dipping. This is what most people will remember of the man, besides his constant desire for knowledge.
Dick is preceded in death by his wife Astrid and daughter Anna Karen, who died far too young. He is survived by his surgeon son Keith Richard Jackson, who now assumes the mantle of “Pop”. He is survived as well by his devoted, loving son Neil Thomas Jackson, the primary caregiver the last years of his life and the one who carries on the tradition of exclaiming “uh oh!” and “that will never work”. He also leaves behind his daughter-in-law Cynthia Beaman Jackson, grandsons Kyle Matthew Jackson (wife Jenna), Nicholas Jacob Jackson, and great-grandsons Ryland John Jackson and Hayes William Jackson.
Gone but not forgotten.

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