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Larry Jackson was a colleague and friend. I first met Larry almost 50 years ago when I started my Extension Career. He was a fellow agent stationed in Polk County. I was so green I know he felt sorry for me! Over the years our careers stayed intertwined as he moved from Polk County to Gainesville, earned his PhD, became a state specialist, the Chairman of the Fruit Crops Department, then returned to Polk County at the Citrus Experiment Station as a specialist. Larry was an educator, researcher, administrator, consultant, author and friend. He was low key and very tactful. He once told me “John you are tenacious”. I believe that was his kind way of telling me I could be a little pushy, demanding, aggressive, etc. at times! Larry had a way with words; he was the author of numerous papers and articles, revised the Citrus 101 textbook (Citrus Growing in Florida) with Fred Davies, and provided editing suggestions for many of us. Larry was selected to be a member the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame (CHOF) and a few years later became a member of the CHOF Selection Committee. The first thing he suggested to the CHOF was to examine the nomination form. As a professor, Larry gave specific instructions to his students and he felt the nomination form did not provide enough detail or specific instructions. The CHOF used his suggestions to change the form, not to the extent he would have liked to see, but more detail was provided!
Larry became very frustrated when he realized dementia was taking over his ability to remember and communicate. He and I had lunch just a few years after he was selected to join the CHOF Selection Committee. Larry said “John I have reached the point where I am not able to fully evaluate nominees or communicate my thoughts as clearly and concisely as I need to! I need to resign from the committee as it is not fair to the nominees for I cannot adequately evaluate them.” So Larry knew when to step down. His last years were spent at a caring facility where he really appreciated those looking after him. His daughter told me after his memorial service that “Dad so appreciated your letters and cards”. So Larry is reinforcing my message to each of you; take some time to send a card or note, make a call, have lunch or visit friends and family. Obviously Larry appreciated it. His friends from the research center, especially Jim Syvertson and Gene Albrigo, would visit Larry frequently. I know that made him feel so good. We can no longer go visit the “citrusdoc” or send him a Christmas card, but he is still a part of all those that knew him, all those students that use his text book for Citrus 101 and the many lives he touched through his years of service to the citrus industry. Larry and I were only related through a common love of those involved in the Florida citrus industry. Thanks Larry for helping a “green” agent for many years, being a true friend and telling me to tune it down a notch or two in a most gracious manner!
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