My well known affection for Springfield, IL has dimmed. During a recent visit, I learned my dear friend Donald "Dr. of BBQ" Jackson had died. The Dr. was a regular poster here on Roadfood, mostly in the Restaurant Professionals Forum. He was an outspoken defender of the rights of small business, and a frequent critic of government overregulation against same.
He led a colorful life and held an interesting and varied string of jobs. Besides playing basketball for the U.S. Navy in the early '60s (his headstone says he served in Vietnam but he never mentioned it to me in conversations about his service), he delved into, what has been described as, a "‘colorful’ venture into the fireworks industry"; not just to earn a living, but also as an active protest against what he considered Illinois’ backward and restrictive fireworks laws.
Jack, as his friends called him, was also heavily involved in Illinois politics and even had a long running conservative radio call-in show. Going by the name "One Eyed Jack" (yup, he had a glass eye), he was best known for making some pretty outrageous statements and an unapologetic sense of humor.
As many of you know, Jack and I were at opposite ends of the political spectrum. But we never let that get in the way of our friendship. We first met through Roadfood and bonded long before either of us knew where the other stood politically. Once that cat was out of the bag, we both loved to talk politics and always respected each other's views. Our mutual joke was that we wouldn't give up our friendship for all nine seats on the Supreme Court.
He was particularly at odds with my wife’s views (even further left than mine), but still loved her and always preempted an argument by saying, "I think you’re dead wrong, but I know your heart is in the right place." We never left town without him giving her a parting hug.
I’ll always remember Jack as one of the most generous people I've ever known. We only saw him a few times a year as we passed through town on our way to somewhere else, but he always fed us plenty of his outstanding barbecue, then loaded us up with more to take on the road.
We were lucky enough to join him for dinner last December, right before the New Year. But it breaks my heart that we’ll never have another chance for a friendly debate over a Gabatoni's pizza and a beer.
Jack, my friend, you will be sorely missed on our future trips through Springfield. I hope you're setting 'em straight up in Heaven. I think they need a guy like you to liven things up a bit!
post edited by BuddyRoadhouse - 2017/11/06 17:54:48