George Melvin Jackson ended his “Run for the Roses” on Tuesday, March 21, 2023 at the age of 81, when he passed away at home.
George came out of the “Gate” on October 10, 1941 in Havre, MT, born to Melvin George Jackson and Agnes Marie Blanchard. He joined his older sister, Marsha and later was joined by brother Greg. They all resided in Hogeland, MT where they owned the general store. As he rounded the “Clubhouse Turn,” many childhood years were spent helping his parents in the store. At the age of 10, he began spending summers working on his Uncle George Blanchard’s ranch in Glasgow, MT. Those were some of his fondest childhood memories and he often told stories of his ranching and cowboying days. As he entered the “Backstretch,” his teenage years consisted of playing basketball for the Hogeland Hawks and spending weekends at his best friend’s family ranch hauling hay, riding horses, rounding up cattle and any other crazy shenanigans they could get into. He graduated from Hogeland High School in 1959. After high school he attended Northern Montana College in Havre, MT for a short time, where he met his wife, Myrna Whitmore and they married on October 15, 1960, in a double ceremony along with Myrna’s sister Lois and her husband Pat Magdall. They resided in Hogeland, taking over the Hogeland General Store from his parents when his parents purchased Jackson’s General Store in Turner, MT. As the years went on, George worked in the Turner store with his Dad while Myrna operated the Hogeland store. Together they raised three children, Boyd, Cory, and Staci. In 1970, they closed the Hogeland store and moved the family to Turner, including the house, the barn, and the garage. Upon his parent’s retirement, they purchased the Turner General Store. During those years, George wore many other hats including being the Deputy Sheriff, the Brand Inspector, basketball game referee, owning & operating the liquor store, being a custom butcher and wild game processor. His weekends were spent having fun racing chariots, chuckwagons and participating in saddle bronc riding in rodeos. In 1972 George, Greg and their Dad formed Jackson Stables where they raced thoroughbred horses around the US and Canada. He always had his two sons and his sidekicks, Doug McCracken and jockey John Overcast with him. One of his favorite memories is when they won both halves of the Treasure State Futurity in 1973 in Great Falls with Woody Island Will and Small Town Dude. In 1974 they also won both halves of the Montana Derby and Yellowstone Derby in Billings with those same horses. Most summers were spent with the family living at the racetrack. George continued his racing passion throughout his life, owning racehorses with various people up until 2018. In 1979 George sold the store in Turner and moved the family to Shelby, MT where they purchased Jackson’s IGA, which they owned and operated until 1991. He then went to work for Watkins/Shepard Trucking from 1991 until 1999. As he rounded the “Far Turn,” the last stop of his working career was at Northern Ford in Cut Bank, MT from 1999 – 2006. Coming down the “Home Stretch,” he retired and enjoyed watching college basketball and rodeos, traveling to watch his horses race, spending time with his family and friends around the track, and inherited his Mom’s green thumb and became an avid gardener at home, planting many flowers and vegetables. His beautiful yard was always a sight to be seen. He was often seen riding around on his lawnmower a couple of times a week. His favorite part of summer was when his family would all come home and enjoy the fruits of his labor sitting out in the backyard. As he crossed the “Finish Line” and took his last ride, he had the horseraces on TV and this ol’ cowboy rode off into the sunset just how he had wanted. There are so many things we will miss like his sense of humor, daily phone calls, funny stories from his life, silly pranks, and his overall heart of gold.
He is survived by his loving wife of 63 years, Myrna; sons Boyd (friend Kim Gardipee) of Shelby, Mt; Cory (Monique) of Las Vegas, NV; daughter Staci (Mike) of Las Vegas, NV; grandsons Connor (Amanda) of Spokane, WA and Nicolas, Justin, Jake, Sara and Zach of Las Vegas, NV; great-grandsons, Ole and a little boy Jackson firecracker coming in July, of Spokane, WA; brother Greg of Missoula, MT; Sisters-in-Law Lois Magdall and Betty Whitmore and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Mel and Aggie Jackson; sister Marsha and her husband Tom Smith; Brothers-in-law Pat Magdall and Dale Whitmore; nieces Lisa Magdall and Paige Smith.
A Celebration of Life will be held later this summer.