Robert Jackson

A talented artist and legendary joker, longtime Piner High School art teacher Robert "Bob" E. Jackson, 86, kept his teaching buddies laughing long after retirement.

Jackson died Dec. 17 of lung cancer. He was at his Santa Rosa home with his wife, Marilyn, at his side.

"He always wanted to make people laugh and have fun," said his daughter Lindy Jones of Rohnert Park. "He had a wonderful life, always made something happy out of a bad situation."

Jackson and his sister were born and raised in Berkeley. From 1944 to 1946 he was in the Army, serving at the end of World War II.

College followed the Army, and the artistic young man graduated from the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland.

He moved to Sonoma County to start his 30-year teaching career in Santa Rosa schools. It began in the 1950-51 school year, when he was hired to teach art at Santa Rosa Junior High's new campus near downtown. The same year, Charlie Juricich started there as a history teacher.

A few years later Principal Larry Cook brought Jackson and Juricich to Herbert Slater Junior High in east Santa Rosa. Years later, Principal Al Biella took them crosstown to Piner when it opened in 1966. Jackson was the school's art teacher and Juricich was a history teacher and counselor, and the two worked together for another 15years.

"We were best friends for years and years and years," said Juricich, of Santa Rosa. "He was so gentle and kind, and always with a smile on his face."

Jackson's classes at Piner included figure drawing and watercolors. His sense of humor and ability to encourage his students helped many teens find a passion for their own art.

In a perfect blend of Jackson's sense of humor and his drawing skills, his cartoons and caricatures of his fellow teachers over the years filled sketchbooks.

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