Gladys Whitmire Jackson

Gladys Whitmire Jackson was a beautiful, courageous, and very independent woman who loved the Lord and her family. Gladys was the baby of a large family, born on August 17, 1931, to Frank Whitmire and Willie Vick Whitmire at their home just outside Cleveland TX. When Gladys was 11 months old her dad died when he fell from a moving vehicle. Life was a struggle for the family, but they were blessed when Willie married Allen Bankins. Bankins, as he was affectionately called, became the only dad Gladys ever knew and oh how she loved him.

The Whitmire/Bankins family never enjoyed the “easy” life for times were hard and the work was too, but the family shared a bond that would last throughout their lives.

Gladys completed 9 years of school but like so many others, she dropped out to earn money by waitressing at the local cafe. In 1947, Melvin Franklin Jackson entered the picture when he walked through the doors of that same cafe. I guess you could say their lives were never the same. Melvin had just recently been discharged from the Navy and he was in town to visit his mom. It didn’t take long before Gladys and Melvin were married and their only child, Melvin Franklin Jackson, Jr, was born in December 1948. The baby was fondly referred to as “Junior” until he became a teenager and felt like he had outgrown the nickname. His pastor began calling him JR and the name stuck.

After living in Cleveland a couple of years the family moved to Madisonville but by the time JR was five they relocated to Galena Park. While living and working in Galena Park Gladys got her GED and she went on to complete nursing school in 1967, the same year JR graduated high school.

Gladys’s nursing skills were put to the test in December 1969 when a truck crossed the median and hit Melvins truck head-on at a high rate of speed. Gladys and family were told he would not live through the night. He did. They were then told he would never walk again. He did, with a limp and a cane, but walking nevertheless. It was a long and hard road to recovery, but Gladys would never let Melvin give up. That would have been the easy way out.

JR grew up and married Sue Glass and before long Gladys and Melvin were blessed with two grandchildren, Tara and Trevor. Life was sweet. Gladys continued using her nursing skills to work in the ER at a hospital, as a floor nurse in a hospital, in a doctor’s office and eventually as a home health nurse. She was really good at what she did, and her patients loved her dearly.

In the early 80’s the Jackson’s moved back to Cleveland and built a home where they both lived the rest of their lives. Melvin passed away in June 2005.

If you knew Gladys then you knew she was happiest when she was outside raising a garden or tending to her flower beds. But if she had to be inside her house, she loved her kitchen, where she excelled with her cooking and baking skills. JR would always tell her he would be glad to put his feet under his momma’s table anytime. And ask the folks at the Ranch Hand Cafe just how much “Grambys” coconut or chocolate pies were in demand.

Gladys also enjoyed watching old Western movies or playing a fierce game of “42”. She could be quite competitive on occasion.

This small family of Gladys and Melvin grew to include 1 child, 2 grandchildren, 7 great grandchildren and 6 great great grandchildren with one more Jackson on the way. Life was really sweet.

Gladys always said the most challenging days of her life was when she buried her son in 2013, her great granddaughter in 2018 and her beloved granddaughter in April of this year. But being the strong, courageous woman that she has always been, she pulled herself up by the boot straps and showed her family how to continue living in spite of great loss. Just imagine the reunion that must surely be going on “up there”.

Thank you Gladys (Gramby) for a life well lived, We will miss you greatly.

Gladys was preceded in death by her husband, Melvin F Jackson, Sr.; son, Melvin F Jackson, JR; granddaughter, Tara Jackson Stoneberger; great granddaughter, Hillary Jackson; parents, Frank and Willie Whitmire, Allen Bankins; and siblings, Savannah Smith, Cammid Whitmire, Irene Holbrook, Ervin Whitmire, Addie Belle Bryant, Raymond Whitmire and Lubie Whitmire.

Survivors include her daughter-in-law, Sue Jackson; grandson, Trevor Jackson (Lori); grandson-in-law, Chris Stoneberger; great grandchildren, Bryan Jackson, Grant Stoneberger (Corie), Tyler Jackson (Megan), Chase Stoneberger (Savannah), Olivia Scott (Cory), Hannah Gordon (Robert); great great grandchildren, Jackson Scott, MaKennah Stoneberger, Bryson Stoneberger, Hadley Stoneberger, Brennan Jackson, Sarah Scott and soon to be baby Zoey Jackson; sister, Vivian Hightower; beloved “other” daughter, Mary Jane Melinder; along with many beloved nieces and nephews.

Visitation will be held from 12:00 noon – 2:00 p.m., Monday, October 11, 2021, at Pace Stancil Chapel, Cleveland, Texas with services starting at 2:00 p.m. Interment will follow at Wells Cemetery, Cleveland, Texas.

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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