Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Jackson remembered as 'faithful friend'


Olive Jackson

Olive Jackson, 92, died peacefully at home on Nov. 6. She had recently been diagnosed with cancer.

Due to time constraints for burial and her request for a simple send-off in a plain "pine box," a graveside service was held last week. There will be a public celebration of her life in December.

Friends and family fondly recalled the quiet, independent great-grandmother this week.

"Olive was a precious woman. She never put herself out there, but if she was your friend, she was your friend for life," Carol Clifton said.

For about 20 years beginning in the early 1970s, Jackson owned and operated Jackson's Variety Store on Main Street where Caroline's Closet is today.

Her store stocked everything from Hallmark Cards to health food. It had an art gallery in the back, featuring local artists Miriam Cameron and Clifton. Jackson was a good painter and an expert at needlepoint. "She did beautiful work. She was an artist with the needle," Clifton said.

After selling Jackson's Store, she volunteered at the museum and spent more time with family and friends, playing dominos with grandchildren, plus enjoying breakfast picnics at the state parks, lunches at 33 Mile Roadhouse, and coffee klatches at the bakery.

In her final years, Jackson lived with family members in Alaska, California and Washington.

Olive Elizabeth Jackson was born in Vindex, Maryland, in October 1924 to logger John Edward and Gertrude Elizabeth (Hertig) Hilleary. Her six siblings preceded her in death.

She grew up in West Virginia. During the Depression, both parents worked in logging camps and the older daughters cared for the family. After a house fire, the children moved in with relatives. Olive stayed with her aunt Jennie Long near Charleston, where she graduated from high school in 1942. After reading an ad soliciting teachers for Alaska, she earned a teaching degree from Charleston's Morris Harvey College.

Her first assignment was a one-room schoolhouse where she taught all eight grades. "In very short order, she determined this was not her true calling," daughter Rebecca Long said. Afterwards, she worked a variety of jobs, including as a coder for the FBI in Washington, D.C., where she met the late Polly Budke of Haines. The friends drove to Alaska with Jackson's sister.

Olive settled in Juneau and became the assistant city clerk. She met Thomas E. Jackson, a pilot for Coastal Ellis there, and they were married in June of 1958. Their three children were born in Juneau.

They moved to Haines in 1966 and purchased and created several businesses, including Outboard Marine & Electrical (Canal Marine), Harbor Hardware (the Fogcutter Bar, and, in the early 1970s, a variety store they renamed Jackson's. In addition to managing her store, Jackson did bookkeeping for the other businesses.

A devout Christian, she attended churches faithfully over the years from the Presbyterian Church to the Assembly of God to the Port Chilkoot Bible Church.

"Olive was a faithful friend," Carol Clifton said. After Clifton's husband died, she came every Friday or Saturday night for about a year. "I'd make a light supper and she'd bring a dessert; she was a great cook, and I still remember her wine cake. We'd watch old English mysteries and just have a wonderful time," Clifton said.

Jackson's daughter Pam Long said, "Mom was a woman of few words. I don't recall ever hearing her complain. Her strong, silent independence was reflected up to the very last - refusing physical assistance even in difficult situations."

Olive Jackson leaves her children Pamela H. Long of Cordova, and Rebecca L. Long and Walter (Jack) E. Jackson of Haines; grandchildren Dayton Long of Haines, Jeremiah and Gavin Long of Cordova, Alicia Vance of Wasilla and Amber Stanford-Long of Haines, Steven Lazloffy of North Pole, and Syrena and Austin Jackson of Haines; and sixteen great-grandchildren.


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