Leila Crowell Jackson of Lockhart, Texas, went home to be with Jesus on May 26, 2006. She was witness to and participant in many milestones in our country’s history. Born on the military army post, Fort Meade, South Dakota on February 5, 1913, she began a life as a "military brat" that would take her across every ocean, through two world wars, into untold number of countries, and almost every one of the United States.
Leila’s father was the pilot of the first ambulance plane and taught Charles Lindberg how to fly at Kelly Field. Pop played the part of the German pilot in the first Academy Award film, Wings. As a bit actor in the movie, Leila happily recalled eating Gary Cooper’s cast off Hershey candy bars between scenes in 1926.
Growing up in an otherwise unreligious family, Leila stood out when, as a teenager, she answered the call of Jesus and regularly attended church by herself. She taught Sunday School and Vacation Bible School most of her life and was faithful in her tithe to the Church. She loved her Rebekah Sunday School class at First Lockhart Baptist Church and always counted Helen Flores as her special friend, hair dresser, and angel. Here, Leila was the pioneer in starting the JOY group and enjoyed leading the fellowship there for years.
An avid sportswoman and unabashed tomboy, Leila could stand toe-to-toe with her two brothers and their neighborhood friends in any game. She later attended the University of Illinois and graduated with a degree in physical education from The University of Texas.
Leila was a born teacher. Her first teaching experience was at Prairie Lea, Texas, where Pop would buzz the school in his by-plane and drop little parachutes with candy paratroopers to the children who ran out to wave at the unusual sight. From Prairie Lea, she moved to the small Valley town of Raymondville to teach. There she met and married the love of her life, the county attorney, James Foster Crowell. Their children, Tom and Suzy, became the focus of their lives.
When World War II broke out, Foster joined the Navy and was stationed on the U.S.S. Lexington. On November 5, 1944, Leila’s world came crashing down when Foster was killed in a kamikaze attack on his ship. (Years later, her grandson, Chuck, did some of his flight training aboard the Lexington.) She and her children moved to Austin and taught swimming, tennis, and physical education at the University of Texas in Austin.
She married Roy Jackson and moved to San Antonio. She gave birth to a daughter, Katherine Laurine Jackson.
Leila taught first grade in San Antonio for 20 years, and many people still remember the melodic sounds of her rhythm bands that she accompanied on the piano.
Leila put great importance on character and college education. She valued America and stood firmly in her patriotism and devotion to her country. In her later years, she began to crochet millions of afghans and book worms which are still treasured by friends and family. She enjoyed listening to Christian music, especially the Gaithers and the Statlers.
She was a great cook, a voracious reader, a wonderful mother and grandmother, a superb writer and poet, lover of birds and animals, a terrific teacher to us all, and a generous giver.
Leila wrote her memoirs in her book The First Eighty Years on the computer when she was 80 years old. She had begun the sequel in 1994. She said she would finish it in Heaven.
Leila took great pride in her family and treasured her children’s husbands and wives as dearly as she did her own children. Her grandchildren, Terri, Chuck, Jennifer, Garrett, Courtnay, and Tyler and great-grand children, Molly, Katie, Rosie, Charlie III, and Reagan Red; Trevor and Trenton McGee; Karl, Karina, and Miranda Stromberg; Foster and Beau were the pride of her life. Her “adopted” grandson, James Bonn, and his parents Sally and Tom multiplied her joy in their frequent, uplifting visits.
Leila was predeceased by
her beloved husband, James Foster Crowell, a new-born son, Richard
Crowell, and her treasured son, Thomas Crowell. Her gifts and memories
will continue to live on in Tom's family and her surviving two daughters,
Suzy Red and Kathy Cates. Her family who affectionately called her
In 1998, Leila and her beloved dog, Shadow, checked themselves into the Golden Age Home Personal Care Unit and for the last seven years, they enjoyed the friendship and security of the sweet environment there. She lost Shadow shortly before she left us. The week of her death, she was still walking the Alzheimers friends to their rooms every night. Three angels at the Golden Age Home became irreplaceable friends and helpers as she found her health beginning to fail. The family would like to say a special thanks to Rosa Lujan, Lupe Salinas, and Mary Gonzales for their patient, gentle, loving care that enabled her to stay independent until Jesus called her home. The family wishes to say a special thank-you to Dr. Charles Laurence and his staff who took the time to listen to and respect Leila when others had given up because of her age. His words, wisdom, and tender compassion were good medicine for her heart, soul, mind, and body enabling her to be independent, useful, and hopeful even at 93. The frequent cards and calls and the recent visit she received from her church family and her niece, Jan Titus and her husband Mel, kept her spirits high.
Leila’s favorite quote by Forest Witcraft was: “One hundred years from now, it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much money I had in my bank account, nor what my clothes looked like. But the world may be a little better because I was important in the life of a child.” She was.
"For they that wait upon the Lord shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31
Her Celebration of Life service was held at the First Lockhart Baptist Church on May 28, 2006. Memorial contributions may be sent to the church at 315 Prairie Lea, Lockhart, TX 78644. Lockhart Post Register Obituary