By JIM MAURER
Paul Jackson was a quiet man, whether as a student at Bluffton University, a computer programming supervisor at Marathon Petroleum, on the basketball court as a referee, or at home with his wife and their four children.
His actions spoke louder than words.
At the same time, Jackson was quick with funny “one-liner” comebacks. His wife, Elizabeth, who goes by “Betsy,” said employees at The Heritage were often the recipients.
Active in athletics until he was 50, Jackson later enjoyed activities which provided “brain” competition and were of a “thinking nature,” she said, including contract bridge for many years. He achieved the life master designation from the American Contract Bridge League.
He also was active at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church as an usher and assisted with counting the offering.
Jackson died April 24 of complications from dementia. He was 83. His obituary appeared in The Courier on April 25.
The couple met as students at Bluffton University, then called Bluffton College. Betsy, from Lafayette and a year younger, noticed Jackson standing tall in the cafeteria, waiting to serve the “family-style” meals. After asking him to a square dance, it took another two years “to catch him,” she said.
They were married in 1953, a match that lasted for more than 62 years.
For years, the couple performed folk music together. A guitar player since he was a teen, Jackson sang and accompanied his wife. He had perfect pitch, and she nearly did, Betsy said. He also played cornet/trumpet in the high school band.
She eventually got a vocal music teaching degree and spent 22½ years as an elementary music teacher in Findlay schools. Music enjoyment was passed down to the couple’s children, Lane, Joyce, Scott and Mary, who all played instruments and/or sang in choirs during their school years.
The couple once performed on WLIO-TV, Lima, she said.
Paul Jackson played on the varsity basketball team throughout high school in the Putnam County community of Vaughnsville, now part of the Columbus Grove School District, and during college as either forward or center. Jackson played first base on the baseball team, too. He was inducted into the Bluffton University Hall of Fame in 2007.
His playing days provided many stories.
Betsy said he told about guarding Clarence “Bevo” Francis when Rio Grande College came to Bluffton. Jackson blocked Francis’ first shot and then after the game proudly said, “I was able to hold him to 82 points.”
“That was one of his favorite stories,” she said.
According to Wikipedia: “In 1953, Francis averaged 48.3 points a game, which is an NCAA record. He actually averaged 50.1 points per game over the season, but the NCAA excluded some of his best games because they were against lesser competition, such as junior colleges. One of the games that did not count in the official totals was a 116-point game against Ashland Junior College.”
In 1954, Francis again averaged 48 points a game and scored a then-record 113 in a single game.
After college, Jackson played for various adult teams.
When he was playing basketball years later for a Marathon company team, it beat the Bowling Green State University junior varsity team in Bowling Green. Jackson had gray hair, and someone yelled “Way to go, grandpa,” every time he touched the ball.
“That just made me play better,” he told Betsy afterward.
He was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan until the team moved to Los Angeles in the 1950s. The couple would listen to Vin Scully broadcast the games on radio, she said, but, after the team moved west, Jackson lost interest.
After his playing days, Jackson’s thirst for competition continued. He became a referee, working high school boys and junior high school girls basketball games, mainly in northwestern Ohio.
He refereed volleyball matches after he could not keep pace on the basketball court, Betsy said. He assisted with his daughter Mary’s softball team and with the Young Miss Softball League board.
He developed rheumatoid arthritis, which eventually made it difficult to play the guitar. Despite his active lifestyle, he fell several times in 2009-2010 and one fall caused a broken pelvis, Betsy said.
As his condition worsened, Jackson quit driving his red Chrysler Sebring convertible, Betsy said, a favorite pastime.
While Jackson eventually retired from a career at Marathon, he did not quit working until 2011, when a second computer-related career ended at Bluffton University.
He didn’t read much besides the newspaper, she said. Each morning began with completing the Cryptoquote and crossword puzzle, in ink, in The Courier, and reading the contract bridge column.
Jackson did not talk very much, even with his family, she said about the man she called “Jack.”
“But our kids are all talkers,” she said. “They must have gotten it from his ‘other wife,’ Elizabeth.”
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