December 1, 2011 |

Jackson remembered for service and faith

Parishioners grieved the sudden death of active Presbyterian Church elder Arlene Jackson, 75, who suffered a stroke hours after leaving worship Sunday Nov. 20. She died Nov. 24 at Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau.

"She wore her boots home and left her shoes at the church for the potluck at 5:30 p.m. She was planning on coming right back," said pastor Ron Horn.

"Arlene was one of the worker bees of the church, she served as a deacon several times, she wouldn’t let anyone else take care of the coffee pot, plus she was a dear friend to so many of us," Horn said. "If she heard you were feeling low she’d show up with a couple of Mason jars of bean soup."

Jackson also sang in the choir, was on the praise team and served Rainbow Glacier Camp as board treasurer.

The day before she died, she phoned fellow board member Wayne Walter, determined to learn how to operate a snowblower. "She said she didn’t like it, and she didn’t want to, but she was going to because she knew she could do it. She was a worker."

Jackson arrived in Haines in 1980 shortly after marrying resident Tom Jackson, a delayed coupling friend Paul Swift described as "storybook."

They had met decades before in Ketchikan when she was a teenager and he was a pilot and World War II veteran working for her father and taking meals with the family. "The age difference was a barrier. They both grew up and went their separate ways, married other people, (and) raised families," Swift said.

Arlene Elizabeth Tibbles was born March 26, 1936 in Bellingham, Wash. to John Thomas and Wilma Ione Tibbles. She graduated from Ketchikan High School in 1954 and attended college for two years at Oregon State College.

In 1956, she married pilot Arnt Antonsen in Ketchikan. They had three children and lived in towns around Alaska, the Lower 48 and abroad.

Arlene was living in Orono, Maine, working as a secretary when she married Jackson there in 1980. "The family all agree that her life really began then. The years with Tom brought her so much joy," said son Hans Antonsen.

In Haines, the Jacksons operated Outboard Marine and Electric and sold fuel at the boat harbor. Arlene also worked as a dental office manager. Hygienist Linda Hazen said she "adored" Jackson for her connections to the community and her inspiring life story. "So many people have new beginnings here, and she did."  

Jackson later worked alongside her husband at Haines Home Building as a secretary and bookkeeper. After his death, her life centered around the church, said pastor Horn.

"She had a deep abiding faith. She knew where she was going and that she’d be reunited with Tom," Ron Horn said. "We’ll miss her more for who she was than what she did."

Jackson’s parents, husband Tom and an infant sibling precede her in death. She is survived by twin sister Marlene Giedd-Clark of Rockland, Calif., and sister Kathleen Tibbles of Juneau; by children Kristoffer Antonsen of Ritzville Wa., Kerry Antonsen of Albuquerque, N.M., Hans Antonsen of Ketchikan; stepchildren Sandra Kindle of Jasper, Texas, Pam Long of Cordova, Becky Long of Haines and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

A memorial will be 1 p.m. Dec. 30 at the Presbyterian Church.

Donations may be made to Rainbow Glacier Camp, P.O. Box 432. Cards may be mailed c/o Hans Antonsen, 701 Carlanna Lake Rd., Ketchikan, AK 99901.