February 15, 2012


 Obituaries - William F. Jackson

Posted Feb. 1, 2012


William F. Jackson

Dr. Jackson 

Dr. William F. Jackson, 85, died Dec. 14, 2011, of respiratory failure at his home in Lakeland, Fla., after more than 60 years as a leading-edge veterinary practitioner, educator, author, and mentor. The AVMA's 101st president, he played a major role in organized veterinary medicine.

Dr. Jackson earned his DVM and Master of Science degrees in 1947 from Michigan State University. In 1979, MSU conferred an honorary doctorate on him.

An AVMA honor roll member, Dr. Jackson served as president from 1979-1980. His top two presidential recommendations were adopted. First, the Executive Board appointed a board/House of Delegates joint committee to improve the AVMA's practice classification structure to better reflect the membership, especially members in nontraditional practice, and to qualify more members to serve on councils and committees.

Second, the board formed a Committee on Public Relations to review the Association's PR efforts. The committee evolved into the Council on Public Relations. Dr. Jackson served as its first chair from 1984-1985 and was a member until 1989. He was also a member of the Council on Education from 1968-1978, chairing it two years, and was elected to the council again in 2001.

The Florida VMA, American Society of Veterinary Ophthalmology, World Small Animal Veterinary Association, and Society for International Veterinary Symposia also elected him president.

Dr. Jackson championed lifelong learning. He began his career as an associate professor of veterinary pathology at the University of Georgia. In 1951, he founded the Animal Medical Clinic in Lakeland. At that time, little veterinary continuing education was available in the state, noted Dr. James H. Brandt, Nokomis, Fla.

"Dr. Jackson and a few others set up one-day and weekend CE. It made a big difference for Florida practitioners," said Dr. Brandt, 2001-2002 AVMA president.

His efforts to upgrade the quality of CE for veterinarians worldwide won him the WSAVA International Prize for Service to the Profession in 1985. The AVMA recognized him as an innovator with its 1987 Veterinary Continuing Educator Award. He was founding seminar chairman of what is now the AVMA Convention Management and Program Committee, and he was the American Animal Hospital Association's program and seminar chairman.

Dr. William Kay, Plymouth Meeting, Pa., was a friend of 40 years. He said, "Dr. Jackson served his profession with energy, distinction, and enthusiasm. Getting across a crowded room of veterinarians with him was, by far, the best chance to greet and meet colleagues from around the country and the world."

Dr. Jackson directed his clinic for 48 years. He was an adjunct clinical professor at the University of Florida, where he had served on the Board of Overseers.

By examination, he was a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons and the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists. He was founding president, organizing chairman, and an honorary diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners.

While in practice, Dr. Jackson published more than 40 journal articles, was editor of the Journal of the AAHA for 13 years, and mentored some 20 interns.

"Bill was an unassuming mentor, a farm boy. Many in my generation looked up to him," said Dr. Brandt, a 1964 graduate.

Dr. George E. Lees, Texas A&M University, worked for Dr. Jackson during high school. "He never seemed to be teaching me, but I was always learning," he said. "When I left for college, he told me he didn't remember anything he learned in school, but he wasn't complaining about his education—he just meant that his present knowledge was something he came to later, from lifelong learning.

"Dr. Jackson influenced anything he got involved with and shaped it into his vision. He was influential without seeming to be a power broker. He said veterinary medicine was not only his vocation but also his avocation."

AVMA Executive Board member Dr. Larry Dee of Hollywood, Fla., first entered practice with Dr. Jackson, who mentored him and his brother, Dr. Jon Dee.

"He made difficult medical and surgical cases look easy. He gave young veterinarians opportunities to use their skills—but also to fail. It was always an adventure in education," Dr. Larry Dee said. Dr. Jackson also led him into organized veterinary medicine, where Dr. Dee ascended to leadership positions.

Dr. Jackson's career honors included the AVMA Award, AVMA Practitioner Research Award, AAHA's Charlie E. Bild Practitioner of the Year, AVMA and AAHA Fido awards, AAHA Award, AAHA Waltham Award, MSU veterinary college Outstanding Alumnus, Florida Veterinarian of the Year, and Florida VMA Award. The University of Pennsylvania awarded him its special Centennial Medal.

He was a Rotary Club member for 59 years and a board and executive committee member of Lakeland Regional Medical Center and the Animal Medical Center of New York.

When Dr. Jackson retired in 1998, his son and associate, Dr. Robert "Bo" Jackson (GA '84), continued the practice. Also surviving him are his wife, Barbara; daughter, Jane McEnerney; son, Mark Jackson; and two granddaughters. His family suggests that Dr. Jackson be remembered with random acts of kindness.

Dr. M.E. "Marv" Johnson of Des Moines, a former AAHA president, said, "When Bill Jackson walked in a room, his credentials preceded him, and his persona defined him. What a giant in our profession … and what a huge footprint he leaves."