Richard M. Jackson

12/9/20 - 11/27/07

jackson3.jpg Photo courtesy of Mrs. Martha T. Jackson
Biography courtesy of Capt. David O. Hill

Richard M. Jackson, President and Chairman of Seaboard World Airlines from 1960 to 1980, died at his home in Greenport (L.I.) N.Y. on Thursday, November 27th, 2007. He was just short of his 87th birthday.

Dick Jackson was born into a privileged family. A favorite uncle was the legendary aviator, Brig. General William L. "Billy" Mitchell, who is considered to be the father of the United States Air Force. Dick spent many school vacations on "Uncle Willie's" farm in Virginia, and found him to be a tough taskmaster and valued mentor. After attending the Dexter School and St. Paul's school, Dick earned an engineering degree from Harvard College in 1942. He entered the United States Navy, and served aboard the light carrier USS Princeton (CLV-23) as its Aircraft Maintenance Officer. He was wounded when a .30 cal. bullet fired from an attacking Japanese aircraft went right through his forearm, leaving entrance and exit scars, but was one of the survivors when the Princeton was sunk on October 24, 1944 in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. A single bomb from a single Japanese dive bomber operating out of Clark Field ignited fires which, after eight hours of heroic efforts to save the ship, took her along with the lives of 108 officers and men. Dick remained emotionally attached to the Princeton and her fellow survivors throughout his life, attending reunions whenever possible. Like most combat veterans, he was very modest about his wartime service, and only mentioned his wound after this writer made inquiry about the scars on his arm. He left the Navy in 1945 as a Lt. Commander. That same year, he joined American Airlines management and remained there until 1958, when he left to join Laurence Rockefeller's investment organization as their aviation expert. That move led directly to his career as Seaboard's CEO.

An in-depth analysis of Seaboard & Western's financial difficulties in the late 1950s determined that changes in senior management, as well as turbine-powered aircraft, were needed to rescue the company from collapse. Rockefeller interests, which included ESSO, a major S&W creditor, put Jackson in charge, and the rest, as they say, is history. Seaboard & Western, under Jackson's leadership, became Seaboard World Airlines, and grew from $21 million to $260 million in annual revenue, and became the world's leading trans-Atlantic cargo carrier. (For a more detailed history of Seaboard, see the Seaboard History section.)

In 1964, Seaboard was awarded the President's "E" Certificate for Export Service by the Secretary of Commerce, Elliott Roosevelt.  This photo shows Jackson receiving the award in Washington on March 3, 1964, from Roosevelt, with Seaboard's V.P. of Sales, John Mahoney on the right.

After Seaboard was purchased by The Flying Tiger Line in 1980, Jackson stayed on as Chairman of the Executive Committee, a largely honorary position, until his retirement in 1981. Jackson served as President of TIACA (The International Air Cargo Association), The Wings Club, and the African Wildlife Foundation.

Dick Jackson is survived by his wife of 65 years, Martha T. Jackson; sister, Joanne Forte; sons, Richard and William; daughter, Susanne J. Miller; nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

The photo above shows him in 1968 and there is another photo of him here.


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