A town in mourning, Grand Prairie laid to rest the honorable Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Ruthe Jackson Aug. 13, 2013. Mrs. Jackson passed Aug. 9, 2013, at age 92.
For more than half a century, Jackson served Grand Prairie in many capacities – City Council Member, environmentalist, business leader, county school board member, library benefactor, PTA leader, historian, active church member, Bible study leader and co-chair of an interdenominational prayer group. Jackson was a member of more than 30 civic or philanthropic organizations and was a founding member of 16. She established eight scholarships and received more than 30 honors and awards from city, county, state and national organizations.
Jackson was first elected to the Grand Prairie City Council "at large" in 1985, then re-elected in 1989 to represent District 5. She was elected "at large" again in 1993, 1995, 1997, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2011. During most of her tenure on City Council she was Mayor Pro Tem or Deputy Mayor Pro Tem.
Jackson won countless awards for her good works. Here are just a few of her major accomplishments:
- Registered Parliamentarian since 1967
- Served on the Dallas County School Board from 1975-1992, president for 11 of those years
- Served on the Dallas County Historical Commission from 1975 to 1982
- Charter Member of Keep Texas Beautiful in 1976 and its first female president
- First woman to receive the Lady Bird Johnson Environmental Award from Keep America Beautiful in 1977
- First female chairman of the Grand Prairie Chamber of Commerce in 1984
- Co-Chair of Dallas County Sesquicentennial Committee in 1996
- 2001 National Award for Excellence in Community Service from the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution
- 2005 National Recreation and Parks Association Robert M Artz Award for Citizen Volunteer Leadership
- 2008 United States President's Volunteer Service Award from President Bush
- 2008 Governor's Texas Commission of Environmental Quality Texas Environmental Excellence Award
- 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Texas Urban Forestry Program
- Grand Prairie Citizen of the Century 2009
"For 20 years she made my job as Mayor enjoyable and fun and, with her as our parliamentarian, easy," said former Grand Prairie Mayor Charles England, who retired in May 2013. "It would have been hard to serve as Mayor without her being Mayor Pro Tem for so many years. She went to everything! She was a force of nature."
"Mrs. Ruthe is the only politician I know that was loved by everybody," said Grand Prairie Mayor Ron Jensen, elected May 2013. "You just cannot replace her. I know I told Charlie I couldn't replace him, nor would I try. But, nobody will ever come close to replacing Ms. Ruthe."
Born in Fort Worth in 1920, Jackson's family settled in Grand Prairie in 1931. She attended Grand Prairie High School for one year and graduated from Sunset High School in Dallas. Jackson worked for North American Aviation during World War II. She married Vernon A. Jackson in 1944. They had two daughters and several grandchildren and great grandchildren. She served most of her business career as co-owner of Jackson Vending, Inc.
Jackson's most coveted national honors include being the first Texas recipient of the "Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson Environmental Award" from Keep America Beautiful in 1977 and a 2001 national award for Excellence in Community Service from the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. In addition, four awards are named in her honor – the Ruthe Jackson Keep Dallas County Beautiful Award, the Ruthe Jackson Youth Award from Keep Texas Beautiful, the Ruthe Jackson Women in History Award from the Soroptomist Club of Grand Prairie and the Shining Star Ruthe Awards given by the Grand Prairie Arts Council. A Dallas County School educational facility also is named in her honor, as is the city of Grand Prairie conference center.
In 1984, Governor Mark White named Jackson an Ambassador for the State of Texas. In 1978 Governor Dolph Briscoe presented her the Texas Bluebonnet Award and in 1991 she received the Althena Award from the Grand Prairie Chamber of Commerce. Two times Jackson and her husband Vernon were recognized for their service by the Texas State Legislature – in 1991 through House Resolution #270 and in 2001 under House & Senate Concurrent Resolution #126. In 1991, Jackson participated in a National Day of Prayer in Washington, D.C. with President George Bush.
Jackson was preceded in death by her beloved "Mr. Jackson," Vernon; her parents and sisters Mary Thompson Boyd and Doris Thompson Prewitt. She is survived by sister Laura Thompson Potter of Grand Prairie; two daughters: Xanna Jackson Young and husband J.D. of Brenham, Texas, and Jorja Jackson Clemson and husband Dan of Grand Prairie; five grandchildren: Rendi Hahn and husband Brain, Jay Young, Spencer Clemson and wife Christine, Leanna Garcia and husband Joel, Allison Allison and husband Stephen; and 13 great grandchildren: Katie and Rebekah Hahn; Caleb, Sidney, Ethan and Katelyne Young; Madison Clemson; Blake, Cade and Allie Grace Garcia; Luke, Lane and Boston Allison; and many nieces, nephews and friends.