A longtime Northside neighborhood leader Marian Lovette Cheek Jackson died Saturday, March 4, at her lifelong home on Merritt Mill Road, according to her family.
The Chapel Hill native was born Feb. 12, 1925, to Pearl Cotton, who worked in the home of UNC’s first botany professor William Coker, and Kennon Cheek, who formed the university’s first Janitorial Association in 1939.
Her grandfather, a freed slave and stone mason, helped build UNC’s original stone walls and built the family home that stands today.
Jackson graduated from the black Orange County Training School, which her father helped establish, in 1945 and from St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh in 1946. She worked in a number of positions for more than 35 years, including at North Carolina Memorial Hospital’s Blood Bank, North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Co., Bynum Weaver Funeral Home, Granville Towers Dinning Services and at Knotts Funeral Home.
She was a longtime member of Cotton Chapel CME Church – which later became St. Joseph’s CME Church – serving as church secretary, historian, recording steward and stewardess; in Sunday school; on the Board of Christian Education and Lay Council, and as a local and district member of the Missionary Society.
She always wanted to be a social worker, Jackson told the Chapel Hill News in a 2011 interview. She was honored for her service with many leadership awards over the years, including being named a Town Treasure in 2015 by the Chapel Hill Historical Society.
“Without a past, no future,” Jackson told the society that year. “All of this is a way to give to others and to make a way for others to follow.”
Jackson also was honored in 2008 as the namesake of The Marian Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History, which records and preserves the history of the historically black Northside and Pine Knolls neighborhoods.
“The most important thing to me that the center has done is form all the commitees that have gone out and changed the rules of the community and have the town respecting us,” Jackson said. “This is just what I’m so excited about.”
Jackson was married to her high school sweetheart Boyd Jackson Sr. for more than 60 years.
She was preceded in death by her husband and parents. Survivors include two sons, Boyd Jackson Jr. (Patricia) of Apex and Reginald K. Jackson of Star; four grandchildren; two great grandsons; a sister-in-law Lula Hatch of Durham; three nephews; four nieces; and a “special cousin,” Sally Pendergraph of Chapel Hill.
Visitation will be held from noon to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, March 11, at St. Joseph CME Church, followed by a Homegoing Service and celebration of her life.
The family is asking that donations in honor of Jackson be made to Knotts Funeral Home, 113 N. Graham St., Chapel Hill, NC 27516.