LIMA — To the residents of Lima’s Springview Manor nursing home in the mid-1960s, staff nurse Annie Mae Jackson was much more than someone who occasionally checked in on them.
“Annie Jackson, licensed practical nurse for many years, is an ordained minister and the possessor of a very fine singing voice, which she uses to a very decided advantage for the benefit of Springview Manor’s residents,” the News wrote Dec. 4, 1965. “It is said that every resident looks forward to the time Annie Jackson comes on duty. She makes living more livable for everyone.”
Annie Jackson also was the possessor of a remarkable family that would make living more livable for many Lima residents.
Born in Troy, Alabama, in 1900, Annie Mae Hooten Jackson arrived in Lima in 1950 after a family tragedy. In December 1950, James Jackson, the eldest son of Annie and Gibb Jackson, suffered a broken back when the station wagon he and eight other men were riding in overturned after blowing a rear tire north Kalida. The men were returning to Lima from work at the General Motors plant in Defiance. A veteran of World War II, 30-year-old James Jackson was treated first at St. Rita’s and then, shortly before his death, transferred to the Veterans Administration Hospital in Dayton, where he died in August 1951.
“The Jacksons were living in Florence, Alabama, at the time and Mrs. Jackson was called to Lima where her son was a patient at St. Rita’s Hospital. She never returned to Florence but brought her family here where she studied to become a practical nurse and ultimately a minister,” the News wrote July 6, 1975.
“I had nowhere to stay when I got here,” she recalled, “but the sisters at St. Rita’s took me under their wing and permitted me to live at the hospital during the seven months my son was a patient …”
Annie and Gibb Jackson were joined in Lima by the remainder of their family, including Georgia, Maggie Ruth, Edgar, Bill D., Gloria Dean and Letha “Annie.” Another son, Jasper, died in Florida in 1961. Annie died in Los Angeles in 1960.
Besides nursing, Annie Jackson realized she had another calling — the ministry. However, the decision to pursue it was difficult, she recalled in 1975. “My children would come in and ask, ‘How are you, Mama?’ and then leave the room again. They sensed something was wrong. Then one morning my husband came in and put his arm around me and said, ‘Honey, if God has called you to preach, you go ahead. I’ll do all in my power to help you.’”
Rev. Annie Jackson, a long-time member of St. Paul AME church in Lima, would go on to serve as pastor of Bethel AME church in Van Wert. She died at the age of 88 in February 1989. Gibb Jackson, who worked for many years at St. Rita’s, died in November 1979 at 81 years of age.
The Jacksons’ children would continue the family legacy of service to the community.
Although not an ordained minister, son Bill Jackson has served as coordinator of the Jail Chaplaincy program in Allen County and as a volunteer with the prison ministries program at the Lima Corrections Institution. In 1996, he founded the Hope Neighborhood Association and over the years has been a relentless advocate for his neighborhood.
A 1959 graduate of Lima Senior High School, he served in the Army from 1959 to 1962 and was inducted into the Lima City Schools Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame. An excerpt from the induction program reads: “A retired General Motors millwright, he has never held elective office or been a member of the ordained clergy. He simply has been a committed volunteer who has made a huge difference in the lives of his neighbors and of the inmates he has served as jail chaplain. In 2002 Bill won the local Jefferson Award for all his work to make Lima a better place in which to live.”
Daughter Maggie Breaston, born in June 1930, joined St. Rita’s staff in 1953, became a licensed practical nurse in 1956 and held that position for four decades before retiring. “But even in retirement, she hasn’t completely stopped working as a nurse,” the News wrote in November 1998. “She often comes in to help other nurses when St. Rita’s needs her.” Breaston, who was honored for her service to the hospital in 1998, has also been honored as Ohio’s LPN of the Year by the LPN Association of Ohio.
In May 2001, she was honored with a Legends of St. Rita’s award. “Maggie Breaston is a nurse who has served St. Rita’s and her community for 40 years. She is a licensed evangelist at her church, is involved with the prison ministry and legally adopted her 6-year-old granddaughter. She has encouraged many young men and women, particularly minorities, to pursue a health care career,” the citation read.
Like her mother, sister and father, Gloria Newsome was at one time an employee of St. Rita’s, which helped the family when it arrived in Lima. “I ended up working there, along with my mother and my father got a job there eventually,” she told the News in February 2007. Newsome recalled that the “people of Lima were so very nice to us. They brought us furniture, food and clothing.”
Newsome, who was born in April 1928, would repay that kindness many times over, starting in the late 1950s with volunteer work through St. Paul AME and with Whittier School, where her children were pupils.
“A few years later came a hint of the social bent she would develop,” the News wrote in July 2011. “In 1966, she was chairwoman of a group at Whittier school that had an aim of improving living conditions on the south side of Lima.” She worked at the Garfield and Southside opportunity centers and eventually at the Community Action Commission, “a group,” the News wrote, “that focused on ‘self-help’ efforts to cure social ills.” Newsome, the newspaper noted, “had found her calling.”
Among her many accomplishments, she worked to open credit unions, health care facilities and adequate housing on the south side. In the mid-1970s she started a group called Little HUD to deal with inadequate sewer and water in the 10th to 18th streets area of Perry Township.
Still not finished, in the early 1970s, “Newsome switched gears and began heading the District 3 Elderly Nutrition Project, serving hot meals to seniors in need of both a meal and the social interaction,” the News wrote.
In the late 1990s, after more than 30 years collecting old photographs and memories, Newsome began presenting a program on black history. “Her Black History Month Project is a mission to share knowledge with area students,” the News wrote in February 1999. “The project is an exhibit that showcases her own history and that of local and national black Americans.”
When she died in March 2011, the News noted that the Alabama native “moved to Lima in 1950 to care for her brother, who had been injured in an automobile accident. She stayed for 61 years, becoming a community activist, a church leader and perhaps the city’s best curator of black history.”
Unlike most of his siblings, Edgar Jackson, who followed his mother’s footsteps into the ministry, did not stay in Lima. He died in Las Vegas, Nevada, in February 2019 at the age of 83. “Reverend Jackson was the pastor of several AME churches over 55 years from La Jolla to Palmdale, California. In 1958, he was drafted into the Army and served in the same unit as Elvis Presley in West Germany,” his obituary noted.
Reach Greg Hoersten at firstname.lastname@example.org.