Gwen T. Jackson remembered as ‘a pillar in the community’ following her passing at age 90

MILWAUKEE -- A dedicated civil servant from Milwaukee was laid to rest Friday afternoon, March 29. A national and local leader, Gwen T. Jackson died Sunday at the age of 90 after devoting more than 60 years of service to the American Red Cross.

Gwen Jackson

"We lost a pillar in the community," said Alderman Cavalier "Chevy" Johnson in a statement. "Beginning her career in 1961 as an American Red Cross volunteer, the world was different for a person of color. She persevered to become a prominent local and national leader of not-for-profits, along the way directly impacting countless lives with her tireless efforts. She has long been an inspiration for me and my philosophy on focusing on the prosperity of children and giving back to the community."

Jackson was the first African American to be appointed to the National Chair of Volunteers for the organization. She devoted her life to serving others, working with various organizations.

"Gwen T. Jackson also worked tirelessly for organization’s such as United Way, Urban League, YWCA, Family Life Committee Council on Aging and State Child Care Council, to name a few," said her sister Arleen Temple.

Her son, Michael Jackson, says she wasn't solely interested in serving the community -- she was also very dedicated to her family.

Gwen T. Jackson Park

"My mother was a great community leader," explained Jackson. "I'm so proud of all the things that she accomplished and she did -- but I want the community to know she was also a great mom."

In 2017, a park on the city's north side was dedicated to Gwen T. Jackson. Twenty-First Street School in Milwaukee was renamed the Gwen T. Jackson Early Childhood & Elementary School in her honor.

Gwen T. Jackson, Mayor Tom Barrett

A condensed biography of Jackson's service-filled life is detailed below.

  • 1961 – Jackson started volunteering with Service to Military Families Committee, where she served until 1972
  • 1969, 1972-87 – Milwaukee delegate, American Red Cross National Convention
  • 1974 – National Convention Organizing Committee, member
  • 1981-84 – American Red Cross Greater Milwaukee Chapter Chairman
  • 1983 – National Committee on Resolutions, member
  • 1984-85 – African Famine Relief Committee Chairman
  • 1985-87 – Health and Emergency Services Committee Chairman
  • 1987 – Minority Initiatives Committee Chairman
  • 1988 – National Chairman of Volunteers (highest volunteer position)
  • 1988 – Jackson implemented the results of a study on volunteerism that became a national blueprint for civic engagement
  • 1992 – Elected to American Red Cross Board of Governors (re-elected in 1995)
  • 2003 – Honored with the Cynthia Wedel Award, given to outstanding volunteers, for her more than 50 years of service
  • 2007 – The Gwen T. Jackson Leadership Endowment was founded in her honor to support leadership in civic involvement

Thank you Gwen T. Jackson for your service to the Milwaukee community. Your legacy will not be forgotten.

Gwen T. Jackson

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