Coach Robert Herman Jackson died peacefully at Capital Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Raleigh, NC on March 14, 2010. Born on October 26, 1921, Robert Jackson was the second child of Robert Washington Jackson and Eliza Davis Jackson in Mineral, Virginia. He was preceded in death by his parents and siblings James, Mary J. Taylor, Jessie, Thomas, and William. He graduated from Allentown High School in Pennsylvania. He joined the Saint James African Methodist Episcopal Church in Allentown, PA at an early age and affiliated with Union Baptist Church in Durham, NC before he became ill.
After completing high school in 1942, Jackson was drafted into the Army during World War II to work as a combat engineer for the all-black 183rd Engineering Battalion that fought out of Luxembourg and Germany. Jackson was with General George Patton and the Third Army in 1944 when he crossed the Rhine into Germany. He was at the Battle of the Bulge near Bastogne in Belgium. Jackson remembered that General Patton who always wore two .45 pistols on his waist was a tough man who was highly respected by his men. Jackson remembered that the men called Patton “Old Blood and Guts,” which reminded him of the nickname his high school coach gave him, “Stonewall” because trying to tackle him was like bringing down a brick wall.
Jackson was a highly decorated World War II veteran who received three Bronze Star Medals, the World War II Victory Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic Pacific Medal, the European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, and a Good Conduct Medal. He was honorably discharged from the United States Army in 1946.
Upon his return to the United States, he enrolled in North Carolina A&T State (NCA&T) University. Jackson played fullback and linebacker at NCA&T. He completed the Bachelor of Science in Physical Education with a minor in social sciences. After graduating from NCA&T he played for the New York Giants from 1950 until 1954. He was the first NCA&T graduate and the first African-American from an HBCU drafted to play in the National Football League (NFL).
Jackson obtained his Master’s in Physical Education from Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts after his NFL career. Then he devoted his life to coaching and developing competitive student athletes. He coached football, basketball, track, and tennis at Johnson C. Smith University, St. Augustine’s College, Shaw University, Texas Southern University, and North Carolina Central University. As a faculty member, Coach Jackson taught physical education theory, athletic training, weight training, individual and team sports, and equipment management courses from 1968 until 1999, after coaching at North Carolina Central University for more than thirty years.
While serving as a football coach at NCCU, Coach Jackson also served as a Physical Fitness consultant for the Durham City Schools and various community health and fitness facilities. His career embodied an inspired commitment to health and physical fitness for children and adults across the lifespan. He was given North Carolina’s highest award, The Order of the Long Leaf Pine by Gov. James B. Hunt in the 1970’s. Coach Jackson has been inducted into the NCA&TSU Hall of Fame, the North Carolina Central University Hall of Fame, and he earned All-CIAA honors as a starting fullback for four years. On October 4, 2008, the 80th football classic between A&T and NCCU was dedicated to Coach Jackson in recognition of his outstanding accomplishments as a player and a coach.
Coach Jackson was married for eighteen years to Dr. Desretta McAllister-Harper. The couple resided in Wake Forest, North Carolina. He was formerly married to Omeata Howard Jackson (deceased). He is survived by son, Caleb, daughter Omeata Denise Henry and grandchildren Brian, Veranda, Russell, Delano, and Omeata Catherine Henry, two great grandchildren. Survivors also include sisters-in-law Cynthia Jackson, LaVerne McAllister and Jackie Wilder and a host of nieces, nephews, great nieces, great nephews, cousins, friends, former players, and students who have excelled in the NFL and in life.