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Virginia Lee Jackson

COLUMBIA — Virginia Lee Jackson traveled the world and loved adventure.

She dedicated years of her life to helping others and loved many activities, including hiking, taking photos and writing poetry.

Ms. Jackson of Columbia died at South Hampton Place on Sunday, April 10, 2011. She was 88.

She was born Jan. 1, 1923, in Page Center, Iowa, to Helen R. (Standage) and Russell L. Jackson.

Ms. Jackson grew up on a farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from the University of Northern Iowa. She went on to do graduate work at the University of Chicago and worked as a scriptwriter for two Chicago radio stations.

Later on, she became an educator and a writer of poems and stories. She worked for the U.S. Department of Defense in Japan, England and Spain, teaching dependents of military personnel. Her younger sister, Amy Christianson, described how much she enjoyed living in those places.

“She loved living in Spain, and that was a very special time in her life,” Christianson said. “She enjoyed going to the bullfights and learning about the Spanish culture, and she traveled. She met Ernest Hemingway in Mallorca and got his autograph, which I now have.”

Ms. Jackson also worked as a camp counselor at a girls’ camp in Garmisch, Germany.

When traveling to Japan, Christianson said Ms. Jackson flew on military air transport and had to wear a parachute because it was not very safe. She laughed, recalling that her sister packed a pair of nose plugs in case they had to ditch the plane and found themselves in the water.

“She had a great sense of humor,” Christianson said.

She also taught classes for adults while in Japan, including English.

When she returned to the U.S., Ms. Jackson worked in the Department of Interior Adult Education Program on the Navajo reservation for 17 years in Arizona and New Mexico. She enjoyed life in the Southwest and treasured her friends near Window Rock and Fort Defiance, Ariz., and Crystal, N.M.

“When she lived in New Mexico she had sort of a Navajo family that adopted her,” Christianson said. “When we visited her out there we were able to be involved in different Indian cultural things that we wouldn’t have had access to otherwise.”

After retiring, Ms. Jackson moved to Sarasota, Fla., and taught classes in writing life history. She helped many people publish their memoirs, and her sister said she has dozens of thank-you notes and books that are dedicated to her. She spent 20 years helping with that kind of work, mostly as a volunteer. She also served as an editor of Doorways magazine.

Her family members published a book of her poetry in 2003 called “Kaleidoscope of Verse.”

In 2005, she moved to Columbia to be near family.

“She lived a life of service to others,” Christianson said. “She was really very giving and did so much for so many people. She was a sister, but she was also my teacher, my mentor, my friend and just a fantastic role model, and she was just very, very special to me.”

Ms. Jackson is survived by her sister, Amy Christianson, and her husband, Jack, of Columbia; a brother-in-law, Vernon Pressly, and his wife, June, of Sarasota, Fla.; three nephews, Scott Christianson of Columbia, Russ Pressly of Englewood, Fla., and Ben Pressly of Dover, Del.; and three nieces, Kathy Herbst of Bradenton, Fla., Paula Strange of Portland, Ore., and Peggy Walker of Huntersville, N.C.

A sister, Ruby Walker, died earlier.

No services will be held.

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