St. Clair Booker, trusted aide and beloved surrogate family member of the Rev. Jesse Jackson clan, celebrated his 80th birthday on Feb. 4. All of the Jackson children refer to him as “Uncle St. Clair.”

Rev. Jackson and his wife, Jacqueline, live in a “fish bowl,” and their every move is either analyzed, criticized or revered. It is, therefore, important when people who live in a fish bowl can have someone they trust around them. For example, Oprah has always let it be known that Gail is her dearest and most trusted friend. Even at the expense of rumors about these ladies, they continue to keep their friendship close.

If there is one person in Rev. Jackson’s life over these past 40 years whom he trusts, it would be St. Clair Booker. And who does St. Clair Booker look to for comfort and trust? His wife of over 50 years, Audrey. It’s been said that men who live long lives such as St. Clair’s do so because of their wives. Having been around St. Clair for over 40 years, I have observed how children in his family, as well as others, love to be around him. St. Clair and Audrey have been the foundation for their families. During the days of Operation Breadbasket, many people thought St. Clair was “unfriendly” because he would stop their intrusion upon the Jackson’s privacy.

Over the years, St. Clair has traveled all over the country with Rev. Jackson as they fought for fairness and justice for African-American people. A member of Fellowship Church, St. Clair has been a deacon there for many years. He is no stranger to the ministry since his father was also a minister.

A (surprise) birthday party was planned for last Saturday, and despite the sub-zero weather, family and friends filled the home of his sister-law Gwendolyn Cloyd. Niece Kim Pittman, nephew Larry Pittman, and sister-in-law Evelyn “Cookie” Hall all flew in from Atlanta to celebrate. Food was catered by Gwen’s dear friend Sherri Pryor whose spread would put chef “Emeril” to shame.

St. Clair’s sister Marie and niece Kathy and nephew Eric stayed close by his side. Sister-in-law Rita Cloyd told the crowd, “This has been a wonderful evening. St. Clair is someone I call ‘my brother.’ He has always been there for us, and no one could have a greater brother-in-law.”

In interest of full disclosure, St. Clair’s mother-in-law, Martina, is my step-mother. Today marks one year since the death of Martina McCain. We all miss her.