Orange Mound has a collective soul that is shared and embraced by residents and former residents. Florence Louise Jackson was the embodiment of that truth.
Her passion was cooking; she absolutely loved it. What she produced was shared willingly and widely with a multitude of friends, even strangers.
On Dec. 17, Mrs. Jackson died at age 89.
“Florence Louise Jackson was an absolutely wonderful woman, who loved the Lord, her family, her church (pastor and first lady),” said the Rev. Robert Matthews, pastor of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church on Elvis Presley.
“Not only that, she loved her community. If you ever needed anything that she had or could get for you, you could count on her. As her pastor, I know that for a fact. She was known especially and particularly for the many people that she fed.”
She joined New Hope when it was under the leadership of the late Rev. Charles B. Burgs.
Born May 15, 1933 in Leflore County, Mississippi, she was the oldest of eight children born to the late Gabriel Taylor and Laura Choctaw Taylor. At an early age, she joined Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Greenwood, Miss., which was pastored by the late Rev. T. H. Tompkin.
She attended Greenwood public schools. After graduating from Broad Street High School, she married the late Willie Lee Jackson and later moved to Memphis. The Jacksons had six children.
In Memphis, she met two people who became lifelong friends – her “sisters” – Gladys McChriston and Mary Scruggs.
Spotting Mrs. Jackson’s love for Orange Mound was as easy as passing by her house, with many recalling signs that read “Yard of the Month” or “Yard of the Year.”
“From the time I was 15 years old, Mrs. Jackson was my ‘Mother from God,” said filmmaker George W. Tillman Jr., who starred in football at old Messick High School and later at Fisk University in Nashville.
“After football, basketball and track practice, I would go to Mrs. Jackson’s house, eat and play with her children. She took me in as one of her own children. Even after going to college, I would still always come back to Mrs. Jackson’s house. She would call me frequently after my parents died to see how I was doing.”
Tillman said before Mrs. Jackson died, “I said to her that I loved her and she said to me, ‘I love you to.’”
A wake service is set for 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday at M.J. Edwards-Whitehaven, 5494 Elvis Presley Blvd. The funeral service will be at noon on Saturday at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, 2356 Elvis Presley Blvd., with visitation from 10:55 a.m. to 11:55 a.m.
Burial will be at West Tennessee State Veteran’s Cemetery, 4000 Forest Hill Irene Rd.