Bobby Jackson of Asheville and Marshall, NC, died on July 7 at the age of 44.
Bobby's positive energy and optimism resonated with many people throughout Asheville and beyond, even to India where he traveled with his mother when he was young and made friends in every village because of his bright yellow hair and his beaming smile. His cheerful personality and loving kindness made Bobby a beacon of light for all who knew him. He will be remembered by many people who were inspired by him to be curious, to be happy and to be kindhearted. At the age of 15, Bobby was the youngest person in NC to ever complete the Charlotte Marathon. Also at 15 he was a member of the Board of Directors of the Asheville Track Club. A star athlete and an outstanding scholar, Bobby won many scholarships during his teens and was awarded membership in the Mensa Society. In June 1985 all that ended for Bobby when he suffered a traumatic brain injury during a car wreck with his father, Robert Lee Jackson, also of Asheville. During that wreck, Bobby lost forever the ability to run, a terrible loss just at the beginning of his independent years. For the next 29 years until his death, Bobby suffered from the effects of that undiagnosed and untreated brain injury. Bobby was a master carpenter and also worked for many years as the director of quality control at Jost Manufacturing, a German automotive plant in Greeneville, TN.Everyone who knew Bobby was impressed with his honesty, his joyful personality, his loving kindness, and his incredible intelligence. He always saw the best in everyone. Bobby was a devoted son to his mother, Joy Jackson Kneale of Carrboro, NC, and a mentor and loving friend to his brothers, Blake Jackson of Greenville, and Graham Jackson of Chapel Hill. The world is terribly diminished without Bobby in it. Throughout his life Bobby made and kept many friends who will be able to recognize Bobby's spirit in the following tribute to him written by his brother Blake.
“Bobby had a huge impact on us (Graham and me) and I am thankful for everything he was. He was 12 years older than me (14 years older than Graham), so we really didn't grow up as his age-mates, but as soon as we were old enough to hang out with him, boy did he show us a good time! He taught us how to body surf! This is a lost art and I love to do it. Every time I go to the beach it seems I am the only one who knows how to do it, but Bobby was the best. He was an accomplished athlete, fearless in the water, and the strongest swimmer I have ever seen as well as an accomplished cyclist. He instilled a strong respect for athleticism in my brother and me. He taught us how to play hacky-sack, which is a non-competitive cooperative game that we had so much fun playing together. This sums up Bobby's aura completely. He was the most non-confrontational person I have ever or will ever meet. He was a great man who loved life, his mother and his brothers more than anything. He took us so many places - hiking on the Appalachian Trail, cave exploring, gem hunting, waterfalls, rope swings. These are the things he did with his little brothers upon his own initiative because he loved us so much. He helped us develop a love for the outdoors which I am so thankful for and am passing on to my own children. Bobby had great taste. If we ever had time to watch TV, he religiously watched Jeopardy. You see, he was also very intelligent, but he wasn't just intelligent, he RESPECTED intelligence. The only other things Bobby allowed his brothers to watch with him on TV were science-based documentaries, classic Star Trek episodes and The Simpsons. He helped me love knowledge and learning and the music he loved is the music I love now, Sting, Queen, The Cars, Talking Heads, among many others. He was an awesome big brother. He was kind and generous to everyone he met. And he was a great man. Anyone who knew Bobby knows that he was always reading a book (at least one). He had a great love of science fiction and fantasy, and introduced me to the works of Ray Bradbury, Roald Dahl, Edgar Rice Burrows, J.R. Tolkien, Gene Roddenberry and others. He instilled in Graham and me a passion for reading which we keep to this day. His love of art didn't end there; he was a connoisseur of cinema as well. He loved Star Wars and was a Tarantino fan before everyone else was, showing us Pulp Fiction and telling us it would be a classic (like it was). He also loved Coen brother films like Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski, and O Brother Where Art Thou, and everything he showed us was golden. Sometimes he played video games with us. Not the kind where you run around with machine guns, but puzzle games like Zelda, where you have to think. My big brother was a smart, humble and kind-natured man who had not a mean bone in his body. He was a fun guy to be around, and everywhere he took us people knew him and greeted him as a friend. I don't believe God judges people on their weaknesses, but rather on their strengths, and for the positive influence they have on others. For my part, during my developmental years, God could not have blessed me with a better big brother than Bobby Jackson. He will be so terribly missed by me, by Joy, and by Graham, as well as by his innumerable friends.”
Details of Bobby's memorial service will be announced on his Facebook page.