ES Independent Column – Theo Jackson

In my novel, Murder in the Ozarks, Andy attends church one Sunday morning. “A tall man with a crew cut and black-framed glasses met Andy at the door, welcomed him by name, and handed him a photocopied program.” That line is my earliest recollection of Theo Jackson, handing out bulletins Sunday mornings before church when I attended with Granny. He knew everybody, and everybody knew him.

Theo was a direct descendant of the pioneer doctor Alvah Jackson, the man who many consider the founding father of Eureka Springs. Theo Jackson made a big impression on me. He had a large farm in the Rock Springs area east of Eureka Springs and he was a man of stature in the community and in his church. I was always impressed with how he carried himself with both humor and dignity. We once attended one of his mountain oyster parties and he was a gracious host.

Theo is someone whom I regret that I’ll not have another conversation with. In fact, I feel like he and I started some conversations that were still in play; conversations that we never finished. The last time we talked was in the barber shop and we continued a conversation we’d been having for twenty years about coyotes and wolves.

We lived on Rock Springs Road at one time and Theo was a neighbor. We had a half-grown Anatolian Shepherd pup named Frost and I was concerned about Frost getting along with Theo’s dog. Theo pulled in one day and his dog jumped out of the truck. Frost was probably 80 pounds then and put the dog back into the truck. I apologized, but Theo just said that Frost was doing his job. Over time, Theo grew to think a lot of Frost. He said that he liked to drive by and see Frost standing out with his cows in the pasture because that meant there were no predators around. After we moved to the hollow, Theo called a couple of times just to ask how Frost was doing.

Theo Ulysses Jackson died August 1, 2015 at the age of 88. He will be missed.