Funeral services were held Dec. 16 for Joe Jackson, Austin resident, former truck driver and faithful member of New Pleasant Valley International Cathedral, located at 5443 West Huron. Bishop C.L. Sparks, New Pleasant’s pastor, officiated the services and began by stating he would be talking about the Joe he knew. “I’m not going to preach about the Joe that was created because all of us have something we wish we could let go,” said Sparks.
On Dec. 8, Jackson killed three and wounded one in a downtown law office after apparently feeling his would-be invention of a portable toilet for truck drivers had been stolen by a patent attorney. Although first reports alleged Joe Jackson had no relationship with the patent attorney, Pastor Sparks said he had written proof showing Jackson had documented his relationship with the attorney. Jackson was shot and killed by police.
The church was filled with family, friends and church members. Jackson was born Nov. 23, 1947 in Phoenix City, Ala. He was married to Vera Jackson, and they had two sons, Darrin and Joe Lee Jackson Jr. He is also survived by four sisters and two brothers.
Nephew George Jackson spoke about how his uncle had changed his life. “I would not be the person I am today,” he said. “I loved my uncle and he would do anything for anyone. He was the quiet type, but when you got Joe to talk he would really talk and explain, and that is what I loved about him. And to let my family members know I am here for you. I love you. I know this hurts. We just have to get past this and move on to better things and think of all the good things about Joe.”
Speaking on behalf of the various clergy present, Pastor John White, said to the family, “It’s not how we enter this life, it’s not about how we exit this life, it’s what we do in between. I’ve known brother Joe pretty much all of my life, and he was a great inspiration in my life and done many things for me over the years. We’ve got to look at the brother Joe that we knew, remember the fond memories, remember the good times, remember the quiet moments and the happy days. Don’t worry about what happens when you leave here, don’t worry about what happens before you get here, but worry about what you do while you’re here.”
Bishop Sparks began his eulogy singing “God’s Unchanging Hands.” He said he appreciated Joe’s family giving honor to the other families whose loved ones were lost and in no way is he trying to justify what happened. He told the family they did not know how Sunday after Sunday Jackson met the pastor at the altar and commented on how he could not find one lawyer to represent him in his claim against the patent attorney. Sparks asked where did this come from, what caused this type of fear Joe claimed?
“Today is liberation day,” Sparks said. “Today is the day we put everything in the Lord’s hand. There are some [questions] we can’t answer. I went with Joe to the initial visit of the patent attorney. They were trying to say he was a Looney-Tune until we produced those documents. I’ve already been in touch with the attorney general’s office, and Lisa Madigan called me herself and promised to get to the bottom of this matter.”
Bishop Sparks said many will leave the services still wondering why. “Well, some stuff we just won’t know until by and by. I want this family to know this will not be solved until we get to the bottom of it, and you need not be ashamed. We’re going to pursue every effort because there are living family members left behind who want to know.”
Sparks ending, saying, “We thank you, God, that you allow us to let his memory continue to flow in our lives. That we may remember him as a upstanding man, as a man who feared God, who walked in church every Sunday with his Bible. God, we ask you to forgive him his sins, his shortcomings and his ways. On Judgment Day, you know his heart and you know the situation. We asked that you be the wind beneath his family wings, and let them know that earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.”
None of the mainstream print or electronic media were present for the services and the photo used by the media did not look much like the person lying in state. Bishop Sparks cancelled the press conference he had scheduled for Dec. 18 and said he is awaiting legal counsel as this matter is further investigated.