Like so many things that have weight and substance, this streak ended quietly. Not with a whimper. No. But with quiet dignity.
When it was truly all over and that fact was very painfully glaring, a friend took Bob Jackson's hand, shook it and said, "Thy will be done."
"Yes," he said, his eyes steady and clear.
When Bob Jackson came down from New Hampshire in 1968 he embarked on a career that has made him one of the best known figures not only in Largo and Pinellas County, but in the state.
Since 1865 states like Florida have had a wary reaction to folks that come down from "up there." Carpetbaggers created enough ruination to make folks cautious.
But in the case of Jackson, he and Lucille quickly became a part of the community. He already had a Florida connection with a master's degree from the University of Florida.
His teaching career spanned all the years from that time to retirement and he wound up as a principal.
Along the way he got interested in government and was first elected to the Largo City Commission in 1974.
He got emboldened enough to make a stab at running for mayor in 1979, lost, and then, reminiscing the other night, said he took that opportunity to get his doctorate at Gainesville. That made him a doctor of philosophy, not a doctor of education, a difference of some degree in the groves of academe.
So you see, there was no disgruntled effort to chop the house down with the disappointment of loss. That was a mode of working out one's frustration in the ghettoes of the Irish at one time and it occasionally emerges these days if one is gone enough with drink.
You have to understand that very often warm hearts are created and grow out of climates that frequently are paralyzingly cold.
So it was with Bob Jackson. He was one of a baker's dozen of offspring growing up in the farthest reaches of New Hampshire, starting out when this great nation was in the depths of the Great Depression.
Things like that are circumstances one lives with and makes the best of it. And so Jackson's character was formed.
In the 1950s young men faced military service. There was no two things about it. Sooner or later, a young fellow pulled on the garb of the Army, Navy or Air Force. There was no such thing as "I had other priorities" - that came with a younger and more calloused and cynical generation.
Jackson refers often to his time in the Army, spent mostly in Germany, after he graduated from college.
Once out of the service, he worked at a large grocery chain in Haverhill, Mass., and because Lucille was in the picture marriage was also. They were married in 1959 and have four children - two sons and two daughters.
Over the years, as a member of the Largo City Commission, Jackson gained the reputation of being somewhat of a maverick. Put this down to a propensity for original thinking, perhaps, not trouble making.
Except for the interregnum brought about by the loss in 1979, he continued on the commission, running and winning the mayor's post in 2000.
When a man has done something for 31 years, the bits and pieces of that something become a part of his universe and very hard to erase.
These days Bob Jackson gets up in the morning and doesn't (yet) have a full calendar of events to pursue. Maybe he feels a little guilty (but shouldn't) based on the vague notion that he should be somewhere doing something. It happens.
The vote count for Largo's election March 7 was screwed up as so many things to do with the Supervisor of Elections office seem to be when election days roll around.
Jackson, Lu and a friend went to the operations center on 49th Street to see what was up. A short while later, the result seemed indisputable.
Charlie and Sandy Harper, Neil Brickfield, Lu, and a friend were there for the end of Jackson's 31-year career.
What lingers in the mind is the picture of Lu, hours earlier, standing alone on West Bay, not far from the Jackson home, with a sign urging his re-election. Very poignant.
Well done, good and faithful servant.
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