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Jarrel Jackson Dies at 85

Jarrel Jackson, "Jerry" or “Captain" as he was fondly known by many of us islanders, sailed for smoother seas on Tuesday, Dec. 6, in his sleep at the age of 85 in the company of his family.

A private family celebration of his life will be held at sea. Arrangements are under the care of Hurley Funeral Home and Cremation Center.

Jerry was born in September 1931 in Sheridan, Nebraska. He grew up on a ranch, but the pull of the seas proved much stronger than the plains. He married the love of his life and his partner in many of life’s dances, Evelyn, and moved to St. Thomas in 1961, where they raised five children of their own and several others they simply welcomed into the fold. They were married for over 60 years.

Together with his wife and family, Jerry bought the first soft ice cream trucks to St. Thomas. Later he moved on to running a trucking business (aka "Big Red") before ultimately settling into the "saddle" as captain of his own tugboat and various other vessels that he operated throughout the Caribbean. He always said there was not much difference between being a cowboy and a captain. "You’re hauling, corralling, roping, or driving something, either way you looked at it."

Jerry wrote of some of the adventures he shared with his family and those of close friends in the "Ancient Mariner Tells All" series published in Nautical Times. He enjoyed dancing with his love, reading, and spending time with his family and friends sharing a never ending treasure trove of stories and jokes.

Jerry is survived by his wife Evelyn "Tweety;" their five plus children: Jim and wife Virginia of Arkansas, Terry and wife Rachel of Virginia, Chris and wife Victoria of Arkansas, Evelyn and husband Pat Logue of Virginia, Katy and husband Mike Roberts of St. Thomas, and Mike Burgess and wife Elaine of Florida. He is also survived by 10 grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and numerous "adopted" Jackson family members to whom he was lovingly known simply as "Dad" or "Popo."

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be given to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, Grand Central Station, P.O. Box 4777, New York, NY 1063-4777.

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