Cover photo for James Walter Gordon of Jackson's Obituary
James Walter Gordon of Jackson Profile Photo
1941 James 2023

James Walter Gordon of Jackson

July 31, 1941 — January 21, 2023

James Walter Gordon
July 3, 1941-January 21, 2023

“A little, white-breasted nuthatch
flew into the back door. It’s in the bathroom
recuperating. It died.” 1/12/19 around 11:00

As our father’s dementia continued to steal his memories and joy, he developed a habit of documenting everyday events around the house and thumbtacked those recollections to the wall. As I write this remembrance of him in his dining room, I am surrounded by walls completely filled with family photos, old hand-written cards, and pictures torn from magazines like National Geographic, Archeology Today, and the Smithsonian of birds, animals, and beautiful places in the world. Admittedly, I was concerned the first time I went home and found that this was Dad’s new coping mechanism. Later, the hospice nurses and other caregivers often remarked on this eclectic collection of ephemera because they, knowing how dementia affects patients, thought it brilliant. He was systematically surrounding himself with a visual memorial of what he loved because he could no longer rely on his mind to recall those things.

Eclectic might be an interesting way to describe our father, James Walter Gordon. As a true introvert, he was always more comfortable in the woods than in the company of people. As a young boy, he grew up surrounded by four brothers who enjoyed being outside, and he spent most summers in Brownsville on his grandparent’s farm, where he wielded a slingshot and fished during the day, then slept under a tin roof on the porch at night. He would later regale these times as the happiest and most carefree of his life. Positioned in his constant line of sight through his last few months was a black and white photo of his grandmother, Nora, near a handwritten caption that read, “Pawpaw used to call me Toot Jon.”

His love of being outdoors continued for the rest of his life. After graduating from high school, he joined the Army and competed in pistol competitions when not serving his duties in transportation. He returned to Jackson and attended Lambuth College before marrying our Mom, Jennifer Dickten, and moving to Memphis to attend the University of Tennessee’s College of Pharmacy. Upon attaining employment at Jackson General Hospital, they returned to Jackson to raise three children. Working as a pharmacist for the next thirty-four years, Dad never lauded his own accomplishments. Instead, he woke up every single day and went to work without fail. On weekends, he worked around the house because he could fix anything. When afforded precious free time, he would read books, birdwatch, fish, or take long walks in the woods. Unsurprisingly, he purchased a home on Crooked Creek off the Tennessee River to spend his time in retirement doing what he loved most.

After a few years at the river, he returned to South Jackson and remained for the last sixteen years of his life, where he continued to birdwatch and read until even that became too challenging. Of all the things our father valued, integrity, hard work, and scholarship were of the utmost importance. His bookshelves were filled with tomes ranging in topics from the lost city of Atlantis to the life of Abraham Lincoln to the mysteries of ancient Egypt. His curiosity about native Americans led him on a lifelong campaign to learn more about their culture and hunt for relics of their time. As his children, we can attest that we spent many hours exploring the freshly tilled grounds along the Tennessee River in search of arrowheads and other artifacts. Over the years he amassed quite an impressive small collection of fascinating finds.

James Walter Gordon is survived by his ex-wife, Jennifer Dickten Gordon, his children, Jenise Lynn Gordon (Lory) and John Gregory Gordon, and his brothers, Robert Farris Gordon (Glenda) and Albert Hayes Gordon (Carole). He is preceded in death by his parents, Edith Mulligan Gordon and William Adelbert Gordon, brothers, William Thomas Gordon (Pat) and Glynn Allison Gordon (Bonita), his oldest son, James Albert Gordon, and granddaughter Katie Lynn Gordon.

We are confident that our father is at peace now, probably under a large Sycamore tree on a river bank surrounded by birds where he catches a large crappie every time he tosses a jig. In accordance with his wishes, no memorial service will be held. If you wish to honor the life of James Walter Gordon, go out and enjoy a long walk in the woods soon, then sit on your back porch and enjoy a cold Natural Light. As one of his favorite outdoorsmen and author, John Muir, proclaimed, “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.”

Shackelford Funeral Directors
Henderson, TN 731-989-2421
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of James Walter Gordon of Jackson, please visit our flower store.


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