Long time Hyde Park Resident Edna Lucille Jackson died on February 23.
Edna Lucille Jackson was born September 7, 1933 in Ironton, Ohio a small river town in the Tri-state Area of Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia on the Ohio River, She was the only child to the union of Geraldine and Freddie Higgins. Born a small-sized infant, her mother’s family, the Carter’s, gave her the nickname “Biddy” and still call her that today. However, she is the namesake of two her mother’s sisters Edna & Lucille. Geraldine, a teacher’s and doctor’s assistant, divorced when she was very young and married her stepfather, Robert Algernon Livisay, a veteran and foundry worker who became Ironton’s first Black City Council member. She was raised in Ironton public schools until her junior year of High School, when she followed her Aunt Edna a registered nurse and husband Earl Bell a Pullman Dining Car Waiter to Chicago. The Bell’s had no children and provided her the opportunity to live with them in Bronzeville on 41st Street attending and graduating from Wendell Phillip’s High School, Class of 1951.
In the Big City Jackson was exposed to all of the Chicago’s culture and society. Her Aunt Edna was a Worthy Grand Matron in the Eastern Star maternal order at the Prince Hall Lodge on Cottage Grove. Her parents eventually relocated to Chicago once they found employment and she met lifelong friends that prepared for college together. She initially attended George Williams Teacher’s College and was accepted to the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. At U. of I. she pledged Delta Sigma Theta, a national public service sorority, and lived in the Alpha Nu Chapter Sorority House on Campus. She graduated with a degree in Physical Education and returned to Chicago to find employment, and had a brief stint working in a zipper factory before meeting her future husband, Andrew Goodwin Robinson. His friends called him “Jackie” and his stepfather was a prominent obstetrician in Morgan Park and his mother a professional artist and counselor in Chicago Public Schools. Jackson soon began her tenure at Englewood High School as an instructor in the physical education department and became the PE Department Head. She completed her Masters Degree in Administration and became a guidance counselor and later the Assistant Principal in charge of Discipline. Although she had passed the CPS principal’s exam, she never sought a transfer to the new schools that open up, citing that the young people at Englewood H.S. needed her most. She retired from there after 39 years of service.
Her union to Jackie Robinson produced two girls, Paula Faye Robinson and Carla Geraldine Robinson. They later divorced and she remarried C. Roy Jackson, a marketing executive and serial entrepreneur who had moved to Chicago from Suffield Connecticut a small town near Hartford. They were married for more than 29 years and travelled throughout the Caribbean, Africa and Europe. They both remained in Hyde Park after an extended period of separation and eventually divorced. Jackson continued her travels with family and friends and served as the President of the University Park Condominium Association for a decade where several of her family members, friends and colleagues have resided over the years. She was a vivacious reader, a dedicated civic volunteer in Bronzeville, a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Chicago Alumni Chapter and the “FBI” (Fifties Black Illini). In her final years she sought the assisted- living support of Smith Village (SV) succumbing to a battle with Parkinson Disease and Lewy Body Dementia. She remained a willing participant in the Rush Hospital Study long- term study on Aging receiving one final certificate of appreciation at her bedside.
Jackson is missed by a team of caring CNA’s from SV that made her feel like she was living back in the sorority house or with her girls in the gym to the very end. She leaves her two devoted daughters, dedicated nephew Troy Cicero, a host of relatives in Ironton and dear friends Tena Williams and Bonnie Orton as well as a bevy of wonderful co-workers, neighbors and sorors.
A celebration of life service has been planned for Thursday, March 1, at Calahan Funeral Home, 7030 S. Halsted St. A visitation is scheduled beginning at 10 a.m. and the memorial service at 11a.m., Interment will follow immediately at Oak Woods Cemetery. The family has requested that in lieu of flowers that a donation be made by check or online to the Vivian G Harsh Society http://harshsociety.org/ or the Ida B. Wells Monument Fund http://www.idabwellsmonument.org/.