Don Jackson of Grants Pass, Ore. passed away July 11, 2012, at his home. Don was born November 2, 1925 in Montrose, Calif. He and his family moved to Grants Pass, Ore., when he was six months old, and he lived here the rest of his life.
He graduated from Grants Pass High School in the class of 1944. He was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1944. He married Dolores Burner in l951. They were married 46 years when she died of cancer. He was a member of Redwood Christian Church.
In 1950, he started Don's Shell Service which he operated for 15 years. Most of those 15 years, his station was the largest volume station in the area. He then leased that corner of the property to Shell Oil Co. He and his wife continued to live on the property the rest of his life, which was over 60 years. He then started Don's Diesel Service, selling diesel fuel to truckers with a key lock system, and operated that business until his death.
In 1956, while he was in the service station, he and his wife bought a ranch in the Murphy/Applegate area. After leasing the service station to Shell Oil, Co., he started a horse ranch. He was fortunate to buy and develop the thoroughbred horse named Flying Lark. Flying Lark was the top thoroughbred horse in Oregon for 11 years, and he was number one in the nation for 1981 and l982 for wins and winners. The race track at the Josephine County Fairgrounds was named Don Jackson Racing Facility in 1993.
In 2009, Don donated $70,000 toward resurfacing the track and was a promoter on raising the additional $125,000. In 2007, Don donated $250,000 to the Family House on Ramsey Avenue so construction could continue for this community hospital auxiliary facility which also carries his name along with the local realtors. At Don's home, his living room carries many plaques. One plaque is from Oregon Thoroughbred Breeders Assoc. when they voted him an honorary lifetime member of the OTOBA.
In 1969 Don had bought and sold the property where Louie Ringuette's house sat, and sold the property to the County for $25,000. That is where the Ringuette Street runs today.
Don lived in the same house next to the fairgrounds for over 60 years. In the last year of his life, he found genuine happiness with his wife, Carmelle, and their happy family of dogs, Murphy and Spike and horse, Divot. His sense of humor shined with his new-found happiness and peacefulness.
A funeral service to celebrate Don's life will be held Saturday, July 14 at 11:00 a.m. at River Valley Community Church, 7th and C Streets in Grants Pass, Ore. Pastor Phil Anderson will be officiating.