Jackson will be missed by many
|By Jennifer Hughey - Editor | December 25, 2015|
Mike Jackson was always smiling. Anyone who knew him would agree.
His daughter, Jess Jackson, started her eulogy by saying he was a son, a companion, a best friend, a brother, a son-in-law, a brother-in-law, an uncle, a nephew, a cousin, a dear friend, a co-worker, Jess’ dad, Mike, MJ, the King of Pop – or when he was really in trouble – Michael John. Mike died on Dec. 9 after hitting a moose on his way to work at Ontario Hydro. He was stationed in Orillia and was traveling on Highway 118 westbound when it happened. Jess, 32, was also traveling that Wednesday morning. She was scheduled to work in Bracebridge and came upon the accident.
“I volunteer with a local agency, Victim Services, and while waiting in line among many other cars I wanted to offer my support,” Jess posted on Facebook the day her father died.
She left her car to go the front of the line to speak with one of the Haliburton Highlands OPP on scene. “They were unable to open the highway due to the investigation they needed to conduct … [so] I offered to inform the other bystanders they would need to turn around,” she said.
Jess was shocked at how close she was to her dad without knowing, but feels he would have been proud of her ability to handle a difficult situation that day. Michael John Jackson was born at the Haliburton hospital, Dec. 15, 1945 to Jean and J.O. Jackson. When he was very young, he lived above Earl Hewitt’s Garage on the main street of Minden, next to the river and the Dominion Hotel. Mike worked for Hydro as a lineman for 31 years before retiring. He operated a local arborist business called BJ Tree Services, with partner and Hydro co-worker, Jim Burke. Jess told those at the funeral – which took place at the Gordon A. Monk Funeral Home on Mike’s 70th birthday – the word retirement was not in her dad’s vocabulary.
“He quickly began working again as a journeyman in New Jersey and Detroit, driving the groomer for our local snowmobile club and decided to buy Mr. D’s Donuts,” Jess recounted, about one of her dad’s businesses, a well-attended coffee shop in the Heritage Plaza in Minden.
“Many of us, including him, thought he was crazy for taking that on, but after selling the restaurant he knew Hydro was the life for him again,” Jess said about Mike’s return to Hydro, working seasonally as a data collector in multiple areas. “To see the flags flying at half-mast at our local Hydro station, where my dad began his career in 1966, is such an honour,” Jess posted online. “He lived and breathed Hydro, it was his life and not many people can say that they worked in one place for 50 years.”
After counting the names of those who paid their respects for the wake and funeral, Jess said there were more than 800 people. Many also commented online in the funeral book of memories.
Former reeve of Minden Hills Jim McMahon and his wife Laura wrote Mike will be remembered in the hearts of everyone who knew him.
“He was such a kind, and supporting person. All the best to his family, as we know he will truly be missed. We will hold dear the memories of Mike in our hearts.”
Jess knew her Dad was well-liked, but she never understood how many lives Mike had touched until the day of the funeral. Mike will be remembered by companion of the past four years, Wanda Reynolds, Jess’ mother Bev Jackson and all of his family and friends. Jess ended by saying she knew her father would always be with her.
“There won’t be a day that passes for the rest of my life that I won’t have him by my side in everything I do and I’m so thankful for that.” The family asked memorial donations to be made in Mike’s name to the Minden Health Care Auxiliary or to another charity of choice.
JENNIFER HUGHEY is the editor of The Highlander.