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Leon County Commissioner and Fort Braden School Principal Jimbo Jackson has died

A man in a dark swear and jeans, stands next to a woman in a red dress holding a baby. They talk to a woman in a red and white striped shirt.
Leon County government
Leon County Government
Jimbo Jackson at the opening of a new walking trail in Fort Braden, April 30, 2022.

Leon County Commissioner and Fort Braden School Principal Jimbo Jackson died early Saturday due to complications from long COVID. He was 55 years old.

“Today our County Commission and this entire community mourn the loss of a colleague, treasured educator, friend, and true leader,” said Leon County Commission Chairman Bill Proctor. “Throughout his tenure on this Commission, as he did his entire life, Jimbo tirelessly fought for this community and especially his district. Our County family shares the immense loss of such a talented person with Leon County Schools and everyone at Fort Braden School. Our hearts go out to all those who knew Jimbo so well, and especially the Jackson family during this difficult time."

Jackson grew up in Fort Braden. He started teaching at Fort Braden school In 1992 and became principal in 2008. He was first elected to the County Commission in 2016. In 2020, Jackson was diagnosed with COVID-19, and it eventually became what physicians are now diagnosing as long COVID.

“We had been told within the last couple days that things were not looking good,” said County Commissioner Kristin Dozier. “We knew Jimbo was in a hard spot, and it was a call we never wanted to get.”

Jackson’s wife and family were with him when he passed. Jackson had missed several meetings recently, and Dozier says she saw how much he struggled in the past few years, but noticed a shift in the past few months.

"If he was in the meeting, he would be there, he was going to participate, and he did that as long as he could.”
Commissioner Kristin Dozier

“We could tell he wasn’t feeling good,” she said, “but to Jimbo’s eternal credit, he always stayed optimistic and upbeat. He would never let anyone think that things
were going wrong. If he was in the meeting, he would be there, he was going to participate, and he did that as long as he could.”

Leon school, Superintendent Rocky Hanna was attending the graduation ceremony Saturday morning for Rickards High School when, he says, his phone began to buzz around 10 a.m., and wouldn't stop.

"I knew something had happened," he said in an interview with WFSU. Hanna described Jackson as a longtime friend who cared deeply about his community and his family.

"I would just ask that we uplift his girls, his children and grandchildren and his wife in prayer” Hanna said, his voice breaking.

"Because that's what he'd want. He would want the community to take care of his family, especially the kids there at Fort Braden. And I made a commitment that I wouldn't let him down."

“Our community has lost a true statesman," said Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey. "He was somebody who could bring the community together in tough times, but was not afraid to make tough decisions, and I think that's why everybody loved him, looked up to him and respected him."

For Dozier, the memories of Jackson and what kept him going, make her smile. She recalls a few years ago, during a commission retreat, then-chairman Brian Desloge asked each Commissioner about their favorite superhero. Jackson said he was The Hulk.

“I think as Jimbo as maybe, the perfect principal,” she said. Dozier says a few months later, she bought all the commissioners mugs with their favorite superheroes on them.

“And Jimbo’s was a giant mug—the Hulk’s big green fist. And it made me so happy to hear a little while later that it became his morning mug of coffee. That he would welcome kids to school holding that big, Hulk mug. Just the joy, his presence at school and on the commission, he will be missed.”

One of Jackson's last public appearances was in April when the county held a ceremony for the opening of a new Fort Braden walking trail. He died four days after the end of the school year.

Updated: May 28, 2022 at 7:47 PM EDT
Includes additional statements from Leon Superintendent Rocky Hanna, and Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey.
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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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