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Long-time Maumelle preacher Johnny Jackson dead at 85

Rev. Johnny Jackson Sr.
Rev. Johnny Jackson Sr.

The Preacher has gone home.

Rev. Johnny Jackson Sr., 85, who referred to himself in the third person as the Preacher, died on Oct. 15 after a brief illness.

Typical of the man who practiced his preaching profession for 65 years, his last days in the hospital were spent consoling family and friends who turned out to say their good-byes, his family said.

Jackson’s last church to pastor was First Baptist Church in Maumelle, one of 17 interim pastorates he accepted. For 20 years, he was at Forest Highlands Baptist Church in Little Rock from 1966 to 1986 and before that, he was at several churches in Texas.

Memorial services are scheduled for 10 a.m. on Friday at the First Baptist Church in Maumelle. His body was interred shortly after his death.

It was at Maumelle just last year that the church celebrated Jackson’s 65 years as a pastor with a gathering filled with tributes and prayers for the beloved man.

As an old-fashioned type of preacher, Jackson spent his days ministering to the sick and infirmed in the hospitals, visiting in homes and wherever else he found them, friends said.

“Brother Johnny was an amazing man and such an incredible role model for those who knew him,” said Tim Clark, a former church member.

Clark who sat through many of Jackson’s sermons said they were full of meaning and value for everyday life.

“He walked the walk,” Clark said and added that Jackson had influenced many people in the past and would continue to do so.

Jackson grew up in Camden and attended Ouachita Baptist University then the Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth. He was president of the Arkansas Baptist Association on two separate occasions.

Several of Jackson’s former church members each gave testimony to the man and his love for the ballgames of life, even recalling that Jackson often closed his worship services early enough that he and every other sports fan could watch the Dallas Cowboys, his favorite football team next to the Razorbacks, when they played early on national TV.

Delbert Kuluth, a former classmate of Jackson in high school in 1948, said he was a considerate and giving person, even way back then.

Rosalind McBride noted Jackson “practiced what he preached.”

Jackson was Pat and Ruby Jackson’s second child when he was born on May 3, 1928. He grew up in Camden with his parents and siblings: Pat Jr., Jimmy, Billy Ray, Homer and Zada. Pat Jr., Billy Ray and Homer all preceded him in death.

“Of all the adventures, privileges and honors I’ve had in my life,” Jackson said, “what I cherish more than anything else is my family.”

Johnny and Carlene have four sons: Johnny Jr., Paul, Brent and Timothy. The family grew and was enriched in love by four daughters-in-law, eleven grandchildren and six great grandchildren. “Granddaddy” loved each member of his family – praying for them by name every day and keeping up with the big and small events.

He served two terms as President of the Arkansas Baptist Convention. He served 18 years as a trustee for Ouachita Baptist University, his alma mater. He was elected Chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board in 1991. His passions for Bible study, history and travel came together in 21 Holy Land tours.

It was evident from the 65th anniversary article the Monitor did on Jackson on Aug. 23, 2011 that Jackson loved Maumelle and the city loved him back.

Jackson’s connections with Maumelle dated back to the city’s founder, the late Jess Odom, a friend of Jackson’s. He said he played golf at Maumelle Country Club when that was about all there was in Maumelle.

In Camden, he was a classmate of David Pryor’s older brother, Bill, who also became a minister.

It was in Russellville, where he was visiting, training newspaper delivery boys, that Jackson said he ended up in church that night at traveling evangelist Paul Leath, of New Orleans, made an impression upon him and lit a spark in Jackson that never died.

He said when he walked down out of the balcony to surrender to preach, “It was a Sunday night and the Lord just got a hold of me,” Jackson said.

In 2011, Barbara Hamrick, of Maumelle, said she first met Jackson when she was a teenager attending summer camp at a Siloam Springs church camp in 1949 and she knew then he was “something special.”

At the time Jackson said he’d led around 3,000 people to the Lord, married 300, preached 400 funerals, 450 revivals and baptized at least 1,000.

The Friday service will be a celebration of Jackson’s life, his son Tim said.

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