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Frances Jackson, former city and county public servant, dies

October 12, 2018

KANKAKEE — Frances Jackson, a former eight-year Kankakee City Council member and a nine-year member of the Kankakee County Board, died Oct. 5 in Memphis, Tenn., following an extended illness.

Jackson was 80.

A Democrat, Jackson served as a 7th Ward city alderwoman from May 1987 until May 1995. She then served on the Kankakee County Board from June 1997 to December 2006.

She also served from 1999 to 2005 on the Kankakee County Housing Authority board.

While on the city council, she served under mayors Russell Johnson and Donald Green.

She was a seatmate to then-7th Ward Ald. Steven Hunter. The two famously failed to get along, and Jackson made that fact well known when she refused to sit in her assigned council seat next to Hunter.

“That woman was something,” Hunter said Wednesday. “She was a very interesting woman with lots of energy. She was very opinionated. God bless her soul.”

Dennis Baron, R-6, came onto the council with Jackson. Even though they were not members of the same political party, the two were always friendly and willing to work with each other, Baron said.

“Frances was a real delight to work with. Party didn’t mean anything to us. She was certainly a real advocate for those in her ward,” Baron noted.

Baron said, oddly enough, Jackson didn’t work very well with Mayor Johnson, a Democrat, but worked well with Green, a Republican.

“Let me put it this way: She was her own person. She was a tireless advocate for the people in her ward,” he said. “She was a real character, a pleasant character.”

Funeral services are being held in Memphis first. On Oct. 19, from 3-7 p.m., visitation services will be at Jones Funeral Home in Kankakee. Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Oct. 20 at the Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in Sun River Terrace. Burial will be in Kankakee Memorial Gardens Cemetery.

Jackson’s granddaughter, Latasha Willingham, of Memphis and a 1996 graduate of Kankakee High School, said the best way to describe her grandmother is simple.

“She was a woman of strength and she was very direct. People knew where they stood with her. At the same time she was great to her family and community,” she said.

Willingham noted that if her grandmother couldn’t help someone, she would find someone that could.

“But she also believe in people being self sufficient. If someone had the ambition to do something, she would be there to help them,” Willingham said.

Jackson came to Kankakee in the 1960s after being raised in Tennessee. She came here seeking better opportunity. She found that as well as the man she would marry, Roosevelt. They were married for 51 years. He passed away on Jan. 22, 2018.

Willingham said she never got over his death. “She lost the love of her life when he died.”

JoAnn Ford-Box, a former 1st Ward council member who served along with Jackson, said they became friends back in the late 1960s. She said it was Jackson who talked her into seeking a city council seat.

“We valued each other opinions. I can honestly say we never had a disagreement,” she said.

She also noted the two often shared coffee and cake.

“We talked about everything, not just the city council. She was a wonderful friend.”

Fellow Kankakee County Board member Robert Ellington Snipes said he certainly misses his time with her.

“She always worked for the people. She was definitely one who was committed to this city.”

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