Though she had her hands full with six children and a full time job as a registered nurse, Sarah H. Jackson always made time to play sports.
Starting as a child, Jackson played badminton, tennis, basketball, volleyball, golf and softball, and, as she grew older, competed in the Senior Olympics, winning a multitude of medals, mostly gold and silver.
Playing in a softball league with women in their 20s, Jackson, in her late 40s at the time, was named Most Valuable Player.
Learning to downhill ski while living in upstate New York, Jackson began competing in cross-country skiing in her late 50s.
“She tried high jumping and track as a senior, but didn’t do very well,” her son Donald M. Jackson said. “She was like a kid at heart when it came to sports.”
Jackson, 86, died Dec. 20 of complications after a fall.
Marrying in 1951, the same year she graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s degree in nursing, Jackson and her husband moved frequently for his job as an engineer with ALCOA.
She continued working as their family grew.
“She worked in just about every place we lived, to help make ends meet,” Donald Jackson said. “She liked the emergency rooms because there was something different every day.”
Also working in nursing homes, Jackson had a soft spot for the residents for whom she cared.
“She had such compassion for elderly people,” her daughter Susan Merkle said. “She would bring them home for weekends or a couple of days to come stay at our house, and she was really quick to bring people into her home who were recovering from illness or surgery.”
Introducing her children to sports early on, Jackson “taught all of us to play baseball and basketball and everything else,” Donald Jackson said. “I remember as a 6-year-old she had me out in the yard playing basketball … spent hours out there teaching me how to dribble and play.”
Living in upstate New York as her husband approached retirement, Jackson and her husband visited their son, who was stationed at Randolph AFB at the time.
It was then they decided to move to San Antonio.
“Once they got down here, my mother said there were so many sports available down here for her, it was like being in heaven,” Donald Jackson said. “For the most part she could do something year-round.”
Active into her 80s, Jackson especially enjoyed tennis, playing with a team of women up to three times a week.
“All of her sports were team sports,” Merkle said. “It was the servant helper in her that made her a really great team member. She was pretty remarkable in that regard.”
Sarah H. Jackson
Born: June 18, 1930, Cameron
Died: Dec. 20, 2016, Des Moines, Iowa
Preceded by: Husband Donald Jackson; daughter-in-law Leslie Jackson; parents Durwood and Ena Hause.
Survived by: Sons Donald M. Jackson, Franklin Jackson and daughter-in-law Maloos, and Terry Jackson and daughter-in-law Cindy; daughters Susan Merkle and son-in-law Rick, Martha Smith and son-in-law Stuart, and Deborah Davis and son-in-law David; 17 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.
Services: Visitation 7-9 p.m. today, funeral service at 11 a.m. Thursday, both at Porter Loring Mortuary North, 2102 N. Loop 1604 East.