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Ron Jackson, '67, 1950-2007

Ronald Paul Jackson

March 4, 1950 - October 14, 2007, from a North County San Diego website

Ron Jackson was a brilliant, funny, deeply kind and loving man. He had a deep intuition and understanding of others and an appreciation for their uniqueness. Ron had many and varied interests just as he had many and varied friends. He enjoyed gardening and cooking for fun, but his greatest joys were his family, humor, pets, music and reading.

Ron died while walking for exercise in Carlsbad on Sunday, October 14, 2007. He was born on March 4, 1950 in Pasadena, California of mixed Scotch-Irish, Welsh and German Mennonite extraction.

Ron was a fixture in the San Diego music scene as both a music teacher and performer for 35 years. He began studying the clarinet at age seven, and was quite active in harmony singing at home and in church from an early age. At age twelve he acquired his first guitar, and began learning folk music in addition to playing clarinet in school orchestras.

At fourteen he traded in his clarinet for a banjo, and became active in the folk and blues scene in the Orange County area, performing professionally as a solo blues act and in a folk duo in high school. An avid student of traditional Piedmont and Delta style blues, Mr. Jackson became convinced by age twenty, after years of arduous genealogical research, that he was indeed white, as many critics of his blues vocal stylings had been proposing.

Based on this discovery, he changed musical directions, moving into bluegrass, folk rock, and country rock. Meanwhile he received his B.A. degree in Mathematics from U.C.S.D. and accepted a fellowship at the University of Minnesota in the Ph.D. program. While studying in Minneapolis, a thriving folk and blues scene in the 1970's, he drifted into a full time music career, abandoned graduate studies, and moved back to California.

His first full-time band was Molly Stone's New Honkytonk Band, followed in succession during the 1970's by Squatters' Rites, Squatters' Last Rites, and Fancy Peaches, culminating in the formation of the Unstrung Heroes in 1981, which was still active until his death. He was also a member of the La Mirada Gutter Strutters jug band and performed from 1979-1985 with Gabe Ward, last performing member of the well-known Hoosier Hot Shots of the 1930's National Barn Dance. Ron also played rhythm guitar for Patsy Montana on her Southern California tours.

In the late 1970's, Mr. Jackson again acquired a clarinet, and began studying Eastern European clarinet styles, touring with San Diego's Big Jewish Band and Robboy's Jewish Orchestra from 1979 through 1993, playing both mandolin and clarinet. In 2000 he began performing with Dr. Steve Baird and the Opossums of Truth, and, until his death, taught music at Buffalo Bros. Guitars in Carlsbad in addition to performing solo and with the Unstrung Heroes and the Gutter Strutters.

Ron is survived by his wife, Lisa, sons Greg and Nick, sister Jan, Mother Evelyn, and stepfather Jack. There will be a memorial gathering in his honor at the Encinitas Senior Center from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 6, 2008.

Ron Jackson will be greatly missed by all who knew him, loved him, and played music with him.



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Christopher Griffin on June 16, 2017 at 8:52 PM said:

I was so very sad to hear of Ron's passing. I didn't get to know Ron well but we did play a few gigs together in The Gutterstrutters and I'll never forget his jokes, amazing knowledge of music and killer skills on the mandolin. I feel so lucky to have spent time with him if only for a short time.
Christopher "Griffy" Griffin
Now up here in the northwest
’67 Lancer, name withheld by permission of editor on April 30, 2009 at 8:56 AM said:

I am terribly saddened to learn of Ron's passing. I fully had intended to circle back and reconnect with him someday, since he was a very influential person in my adolescent development. He introduced me to folk, blues and folk-rock music and its deep roots in American history and culture. He also explained the fundamental connection between music and math, which is an insight that he shared with my dad, who also was gifted in both math and music.

Ron was a towering intellect and a talented man in so many, many ways. I always regretted that he abandoned mathematics -- I think he could have made a real contribution in the field. But he followed his heart, and that certainly is one key to happiness and fulfillment during our brief time here.
Paul Saevig, '67 on April 30, 2009 at 12:11 AM said:

This is a shock. Ron was one of my best friends between about 1966 and 1971. A phenomenally brilliant man, a funny person who loved to crack up and laugh. A terrific musician who never showed off or boasted about it. Ron loved to pretend he was eccentric -- he saw the absurdity of some of our homework assignments and vowed never to do any homework at home or even take textbooks home. Ron was always in the back row of our Latin classes, kind of daydreaming or thinking, or chatting with girls. When Mrs. Evelyn Root tried to surprise him by calling on him to translate, he just grinned and read the Latin as easily as if it were English. He used to come up to UCLA to see me and Randy McDonald. In those days Ron almost never wore shoes! We've lost a great friend, a rare man.

Ron's sister is Jan Jackson, '64, of course, one of the most gifted and well-liked '60s women. I'm so sorry, Jan.

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