Jackson made a lasting impact

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 17, 2010

James E. “Luke” Jackson was born near the Harmony Community into poverty just after the end of World War I. He worked for area farmers in the communities as a young boy plowing with mule and oxen, and first began his knowledge of mechanics working on mule driven farm machinery of the era. His mother married Mr. Sasser and the young Luke moved to the Sanford area with his new family until he joined the United States Army where he served under the famed Sgt. Payne (known during the era as the meanest in the world)

Upon his honorable discharge from the Army, he aligned with M.C. Russell of River Falls Street, a friendly connection made from Sanford farmer Mr. Enfinger that owned Enfinger’s Cafe on South Cotton Street later to become “Rooster’s Cafe”. Mr. Enfinger and Mr. M.C. Russell were next door neighbors on Riverfalls Street. Mr. Russell owned rental properties, car lots, and a service station/ garage on Baisden Street right behind the Coca Cola Plant. Mr. Russell never had any children and he took a personal liking to the young Luke Jackson and gave him his ‘break’ into business nearly 70 years ago in this location as a ‘transmission shop’ in the rear of the garage.

Jackson had many supplement businesses over his 70-year career with the first being a ‘bus line’ that ran from Red Level and other rural communities during the gasoline rationing era to take employees to the Alatex/Andala to work from the rural South Alabama farming communities, as well as country folk to have a way into town that otherwise had no transportation.

Jackson purchased a large home on River Falls Street and lived near the intersection of Church Street where the current long time location of Jackson Honda & Used Cars sits to this day.

During this time Jackson was an avid sportsman with bowling leagues, boating, hunting, saltwater fishing in the Chotawahchee Bay and Gulf of Mexico, and on one of these deer hunting trips Jackson was getting out of a tree stand, fell, and the 30-30 high powered rifle discharged into Jackson’s upper thigh nearly taking his life during the height of his career……hitting a major artery and Jackson nearly died thus he had to give up the American Motor Dealership as well as the Mercury/Wellcraft boats….but he kept what he knew best the garage and transmission shops.

Upon Jackson’s recovery from the accident, Jackson and Carl Franklin partnered in the used car business beginning in the 1968 first named ‘City Used Cars’ located on River Falls Street and operated for many years until Franklin retired due to a stroke, but Jackson continued this business until his death.

Jackson’s legacy will live on for many years to come as his name is synonymous with Honda in the Southeastern United States and the largest dealer in the South, as well as providing transportation for thousands of area residents for the past nearly five decades in southern Alabama and Northwest Florida with Used Cars.

Jackson was an avid supporter and promoter of The Dale Carnegie Books and seminars and always paid for his employees and friends to attend such self-improvement courses for decades. He had the first computerized automobile testing diagnosis equipment in Covington County as well as the first computerized inventory and bookkeeping technology in the area and believed in Success and improving one’s self with this he accomplished in his lifetime having friends from all walks of life calling Jackson Honda ‘home’ when they came through town. I asked Mr. Jackson why he added 20,000 square feet of showroom space, new dining facilities at the age of 85, and he replied “I did it for you folks, my friends and family, so you’d enjoy coming by and could be comfortable.”

Luke Jackson will be missed.


Randy Franklin

Destin, Fla.