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RIP Terry Jackson, Miami Herald

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Speedway, Jan 7, 2009.

  1. Speedway

    Speedway Member

    I always enjoyed my experiences with Terry. After reading this, I was enlightened to just how remarkable of a person he was.


    Posted on Wed, Jan. 07, 2009
    Longtime Herald journalist dies at 57


    Terry Jackson, a Miami Herald editor who stood 5-foot-2 but seemed larger than life to everybody who knew him, died Tuesday after battling -- a cliché, by the way, that would have been cut from this story if he were editing it -- esophageal cancer for two years.
    Jackson lived to be 57 -- about 40 years longer than doctors predicted after he contracted polio at 13 months old and spent a good part of childhood in a full body cast.

    The disease left him with one leg the circumference of a broomstick and a contorted back ''that twists like 40 miles of mountain road,'' as Jackson described it. Doctors warned his parents that his life would be short and sedentary.

    Instead, it was a big-screen adventure streaked with tabloid thrills. Jackson raced vintage cars at 120 mph, hobnobbed with gangsters, drove 500 miles along a meandering dirt trail through the Alaskan tundra to dip his fingers into the Arctic Ocean, wrote six books and helped win two Pulitzer Prizes.

    And every step of the way he sneered at doctors and sob-sister counselors who said he couldn't. ''There was no surer way to tick him off than to suggest that he make allowances for his condition -- at any point over the years and especially as the cancer advanced,'' said former Herald writer Martin Merzer.

    Jackson's journalism career, which started 39 years ago with a summer job as a copyboy at the old Fort Lauderdale News, contained two tours at The Herald (which hired him, he liked to say, to fill its ``crutch quota''), and ended with him directing day-to-day operations of The Herald's Features department, was enough to fill two or three résumés.

    It included newspaper jobs in St. Petersburg; Naples; Jacksonville; Austin, Tex., and Sacramento, Calif. At the Sacramento Bee, he directed a 1992 series on environmental destruction in the Sierra Nevada mountains that won a Pulitzer for public service; in Miami, during a five-year stint as TV critic, he shared in the Pulitzer awarded to the Herald staff for coverage of the seizure of Elián González.

    But it was what he did outside newsrooms that was the stuff of Jacksonian legend. His passion for cars and casinos triggered one perilous caper after another. Covering the 1977 World Series of Poker, he interviewed one gambler who subsequently staked him to a share of a bar. The place was sufficiently adventurous that Jackson took to carrying a gun. Another interview landed him in court as a witness when the gambler was accused of murdering a federal judge.

    Jackson's escapades with cars -- rooted, no doubt, in the years he spent in the body cast -- were only marginally less madcap. ''When he was just a baby in that cast, he taught himself to roll over and pull himself along the floor with his hands,'' remembered Cathie Powell, Jackson's sister. ``He always wanted to be mobile.''

    In calmer moments, that translated to writing: Jackson authored six books on cars. In wilder ones, he took a 1965 Mustang GT 350 on the vintage racing circuit, running -- and often winning -- Mittyesque duels with other don't-quit-your-day-job drivers on famous tracks like Daytona, Sebring and Watkins Glen. And writing car columns in Sacramento and Miami, he persuaded manufacturers to lend him test models for ever-more-improbable odysseys, topped by his 1996 trek to the Arctic on a narrow wilderness road through two mountain ranges.

    ''Everybody warned us to take a spare windshield because the road was so rough,'' said Herald editor Marjie Lambert, Jackson's wife of 28 years. ''When we told Ford we wanted an extra windshield, they just kind of looked at us.'' But the trip ended with Jackson, Lambert and the windshield all intact.

    Jackson's contempt for all things safe and sane extended into practically every corner of his life, especially eating. He once wrote a lascivious ode to the Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese (''and a side order of Lipitor!'') for The Herald. His newsroom colleagues saluted him Wednesday with an afternoon repast of Oreos and Coca-Cola -- or, as Jackson referred to it, the Breakfast of Champions.

    Jackson is survived by his wife; sister Powell of Reisterstown, Md., and brother Larry Rank of Phoenix. A memorial service is being planned.
  2. jeff.pearlman

    jeff.pearlman Member

    Wow. What a great way to live life. Loved reading about him.
  3. MileHigh

    MileHigh Moderator Staff Member

    Yeah, he was a cool guy. RIP.
  4. tapintoamerica

    tapintoamerica Well-Known Member

    That is one of the greatest leads ever written in an obit.
  5. Walter_Sobchak

    Walter_Sobchak Active Member

    The whole obit is outstanding. What a life.
  6. Colton

    Colton Active Member

    Must have been a tremendous person.

  7. Simon_Cowbell

    Simon_Cowbell Active Member

    I never had the honor of meeting Terry, but I worked with his wife, Marjie.

    She did a wonderful series on traveling to all 50 states.


    Peace to you, Terry and Marjie
  8. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    I interned at a paper where he was. I remember him largely because of his height, but he seemed incredibly well-liked.

  9. leo1

    leo1 Active Member

    glen garvin is a great writer. (no i'm not he)
  10. bp6316

    bp6316 Member

    That really is a wonderful obit. Made me wish I knew the guy. RIP
  11. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    Shades of Owen Meany.

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