Charles G. Jackson, Jr.

Chuck Jackson

Charles G. Jackson, Jr.

Remembering Charles Gilbert Jackson, Jr.

A “Band of Brothers” –

Chuck, Ralph, Dave, and I were roommates from freshman year at Yale. Gerry Doyle joined us for the final three. We were very close, like a “band of brothers.” How close – maybe this little anecdote captures something of that closeness. When I got married, Gerry gave Madeleine and me a gift of a silver platter with the names of the six of us engraved on it.

When we met in the Fall of 1961, we were just kids. Ralph and I were 17. We bonded then and for years after, but like teenagers we were silly, immature, and like the saying about visiting Las Vegas – much of what happened at Yale stays at Yale. So I will make a few comments and turn it over to my best friend and for ten years my brother-in-law, Ralph.

I knew Chuck best from that freshman year when we first met as into his early forties as he set out on his journey – a period before the rigors of life fully catch up with you. We were roommates in 30 Vanderbilt Hall and spent much time together thereafter as kids, young adults, marriage partners, and parents.

Chuck was a kid at heart, charming, playful and endlessly inventive. In college, when you interacted somehow the conversation turned into a game. These games could be fun and sometimes irritating, but as far as I can tell they were embedded in Chuck’s DNA. He could make anything into a game—any activity, any event, any interaction. I can remember many times standing at the entrance to his room in Berkeley College as he created de-novo an endless array of such games out of words or numbers. His beguiling smile as he enjoyed that play – his brilliant mind at full play.

After college there were many times we were together over holidays, summer weekends, New Year’s celebrations, all leaving wonderful traces of memories for myself and my wife Madeleine. At Lakeville, in that rundown cottage by beautiful Lake Wononscopomuc, Ralph, Chuck, and I and our spouses partied as three couples many weekends, with boating, tennis at Hotchkiss, barbecued steaks and more. That cottage was so dilapidated that we never wanted to walk around without shoes. Its beds were like pavement. But the warm summer days lolling by the water, going off to play tennis and swim are memories treasured.

I have many enduring memories from our time together; they remain odd little pieces that are part of my life still. Here are two: Chuck loved Polar Orange Dry soda. We went into town to buy steaks to barbecue and load up on large bottles of the soda. We imbibed bottle after bottle and from then on till today it has been my favorite soda. Moreover, Chuck had an unexpected and important impact on my retirement finances. We both had TIAA/CREF as investment devices through our work. I split our money half into stocks and half into fixed annuities. Chuck mentioned in passing one inebriated night that he put it all into stock – so though I never mentioned it, I changed and never did it any other way till turning 70. The best accidental investment advice I ever received. But mostly from those weekends and their counter parts in the winter, often over New Year’s, there was the fun of just talking into the night and cooking –Madeleine and Chuck making homemade pasta, pesto, and more. There are a thousand other wonderful little memories like Chris and my daughter Samantha splitting pot stickers at our Chinese meals – one liked the outside and the other the inside.

All of us are like thousand-piece puzzles that we put together over our lifetimes, rarely ending with beautiful, complete pictures, often without clarity about pieces that don’t seem to fit anywhere so the puzzle is left incomplete and inexact. But each of us has beautiful pieces whatever the final resulting picture we have made of ourselves.

For Chuck the most endearing and persistent piece was his charm, child-like and wonderful at its best. Not surprisingly, when I talked with Laura and Chris in the few days before Chuck died, they described this same charm in how he interacted with a new hospice nurse – to her great surprise he asked about how she was, engaging her in a way very sick patients rarely if ever do. They described his remarkable cheerfulness even in the face of pain and illness. This was Chuck the playful kid still. Life was a game to be played and enjoyed as long as he could, until, as he said, he folded his cards. While that unencumbered childlike play could be exasperating, it is the smile it brings to me even now that I will always cherish.

Chuck, thank you for giving me that. Raise your glasses as I raise mine full of Diet Orange Dry in a toast to someone we love.

(From Ralph)

I remember it as if it were yesterday. It was sometime in July of 1961 when I received a letter from Yale with the names of the three freshman I would be rooming with that fall: Alan M. Jacobson from Highland Park Illinois; David W. Strong from Detroit; Charles G. Jackson, Jr. from Bronxville New York. “Jacobson.” Sounds Jewish. Cool. In my little town of Perrysburg, Ohio there were no Jews. Now I got to bunk with one. Very cool.

“Strong.” Could you ask for a more patrician name? New England roots? Maybe an athlete? A preppy? Again, very cool.

“Jackson.” From what little I knew about New York City, I knew there was a borough named Bronxville. Jackson. Must be a Negro if he lives in Bronxville and has a name like Jackson. There were no African-Americans back then. Only Negroes, and I got to room with one. Very, very cool. A Jew, a preppy, and a Negro. Could I ask for more diversity?

Then on the first day at Yale I met my three roomies. No surprises with Jacobson. Definitely Jewish. Also no surprise with Strong. Descended from Dr. John Warren, whose brother Joseph had perished at Bunker Hill. One of the leaders of the American Revolution. Founder of Harvard Medical School. Definitely patrician, though as big as a house. Later started at tackle for the Yale football team. Then I looked at Charles G. Jackson, Jr., my new Negro roommate. Not so black. In fact, very very white. Dimple on his chin. Broad and clever smile.

Glasses (or were they contacts?). Charming. The only person in my life who pronounced “salmon” “sahlmon.” With an “l.” And one of my best friends in life, whom I roomed with not only at Yale but after Yale, when Chuck was in med school and I was starting my career, in a 3-bedroom apartment in Washington Heights.

Alan has described some of Chuck’s most endearing traits – his love of games, his gusto when ordering Chinese food, his generosity, his genius, his love of music and singing, his boyishness. As Gerry reminded us, in our senior year Chuck decided to buy a 5-gallon jug of cider and keep it in his fireplace for tapping throughout the year. Problem was, cider has a way of fermenting, and in a month or so he had bubbling cider all over his room and its aroma throughout the entryway. That was Chuck.

He was also infuriating when he was studying. He would wait until two days before a final exam—in Math, his major. Then he would lock himself away and study non-stop until the exam. If one of us happened to poke into his room to see if wanted to join us for lunch, he wouldn’t even notice us, his attention was so focused. He’d be sitting there at his desk, chewing on his tie or shirt collar, staring at his notes. A day or so later he would take his exam and get a 98. As our roommate Dave wrote, “I remember in college thinking how can anyone be that smart, but Chuck had amazing powers of concentration and when he was studying you could march a brass band through his room and he’d never know you’d ever been there.”

An incredible mind, an indelible memory.

Then there were the Saturday calls from his mother. Chuck and I shared one phone line senior year with a separate phone in each of our bedrooms and a cord running through the wall that separated us. The phone only rang on my phone, however, so when Mrs. Jackson called every Saturday morning around 8am, it was I who answered. “Hello, Ralph, it’s Mrs. Jackson. Sorry to bother you so early. Is Charles there?” I then would knock on the wall in an effort to rouse Chuck from the slumber of his Friday hangover, all the while mumbling pleasantries and trying to get my foggy brain to engage. What was discussed on those calls between Chuck and his mom, I can only guess. But they went on forever.

Living with Chuck for a total of seven years, I could load up this tribute with memories. Listening to Beethoven while high on weed, with stethoscopes pressed to the speakers. (You want Beethoven, I’ll give you Beethoven.) Sailing along the Maine coast in a windjammer named Mattie, exploring the hamlets along the way and mostly striking out with the women on board. Touch football games at Lakeville with Chuck, Nancy, and the Jacobsons. Weekends in Sanbornville New Hampshire with Nancy, Woozle, and Laura Lumpkin. New Year’s Eve dinners. Hours of cribbage (guess who won most of the time?). Poker with Chuck and Chris at their apartment on Riverside Drive. And so on and so on.

Alan said it brilliantly, “Chuck was a kid at heart, charming, playful and endlessly inventive.” It was impossible not to like Chuck. Exasperating at times, yes, but never dull. He was an original. And as Alan noted, in the end, the best father that Chris (Woozle) and Laura (Lumpkin) could have wished for.


Northampton, MA — Charles Gilbert Jackson, Jr., MD, known by many as Chuck, died peacefully surrounded by family at his Northampton home on November 20, 2021. Chuck was 78 years old.

A graduate of Bronxville School (’61) and a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Yale University (’65), Chuck graduated from Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons and went on to become a board-certified psychiatrist. After working in his private practice in New York and at Columbia University Health Service for twenty years, he retired and moved to Northampton in 1989. A loving father, grandfather, stepfather, step-grandfather, uncle, brother, partner, and friend, Chuck’s endearing sense of humor was with him to the end. He was a lifelong lover of sports and games of all kinds, achieving the status of Life Master in bridge, often winning at poker, and furnishing the family with many memorable salad-bowl clues. Chuck was also a music lover with wide tastes, ranging from classic rock to baroque opera to tango music—the louder the better.

Chuck is pre-deceased by his parents, Charles Gilbert Jackson and Phyllis Macdougall Jackson, and his sister Whitney. He will be sorely missed by those he leaves behind: son Christopher, daughter Laura, sister Karen Lewis of Leeds, stepdaughters Cassie and Chloe, all the grandchildren: Sofia, Ella, Avery, Ian, Willow, Toby, Augie, Iris, Ollie, Evander, and Arthur — and his longtime partner Susanne. Donations in lieu of flowers to VNA and Hospice of Cooley Dickinson Hospital.

Published by Daily Hampshire Gazette on Dec. 7, 2021.