Francis Marion “Frank” Jackson III, whose distinguished career of 54 years at Arnold Engineering Development Center was highlighted by significant technical and managerial contributions in the design, calibration, operation and improvement of transonic and supersonic wind tunnels, died on October 15th, 2014 at the age of 77.
Frank will be remembered as a devoted son, loving husband of 50 years to Marie, father, loyal friend, and mentor. Serious and dedicated to his profession, he will also be remembered for his sense of humor and the fact that he never told a joke that didn’t make him laugh first.
Frank was born on October 4th, 1937. A sixth generation Tennessean, Frank (affectionately called “Buddy” by family) was raised on the family farm in Bedford County. It was on the family farm and during trips to see his mother’s family in Birmingham, Alabama that he developed his strong work ethic and dedication to both his family and his faith. After graduating from Georgia Institute of Technology, Frank settled in Tullahoma in 1960 and joined ARO Inc. as a Project and Facilities Engineer at AEDC. He advanced through the ranks of Research Engineer, Engineering Supervisor and Program Manager. In 1987, Frank became Director of Engineering and Maintenance and in 1990 was promoted to Director of Engineering and Development and Director of Planning. He would later serve as Director of Operations and Maintenance and as Chief Engineer, and as the Director of the Test and Facility Support Department and Chief Engineer of the Aircraft Test and Evaluation Department. From 1990 through 1996, Frank led AEDC contractor efforts in support of the National Wind Tunnel Complex Program and was a member of the Joint Industry/Government team at NASA Langley and the Contractor Requirement and Operations team at NASA Lewis. As the chief engineer of the Integrated Test and Evaluation department at AEDC, Frank was the driving force behind the delivery of many aeronautical test capabilities and improvements, which have proven to be essential to the nation’s weapon system development needs. He researched testing in Propulsion Wind Tunnel’s 16-foot supersonic wind tunnel to develop optimum second-throat diffuser configurations that remain in use after 30 years. He also served as senior engineer responsible for specifications, design, procurement and installation of a new high-angle automated model support system for the 16-foot transonic wind tunnel (16T), which significantly improved model altitude range, pitch and roll rates and test productivity. As director of the Jacobs Sverdrup Flight Systems department, Frank supervised the execution of more than 12,000 hours of wind tunnel testing in the 4-foot and the 16-foot transonic wind tunnels and hypersonic tunnels A, B, and C.
Frank’s passion for his profession was equaled by his dedication to various community and charitable causes and his faith. Frank was the first vice chairman of the Tullahoma Airport Commission and also served as the Chairman of the Coffee County Airport Commission. He was a member of the Rotary Club and a Paul Harris Fellow. He served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Mental Retardation Foundation of Tennessee, which established group homes and transportation for the mentally disabled in Tennessee. He was a member of St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church. He had served as president of the St. Paul parish counsel and as president of the St. Paul school board. He joined the Knights of Columbus, the world’s largest Catholic family, fraternal, service organization, in 1961. He served as Grand Knight of the Tullahoma Council from 1969 until 1971 and was a Fourth Degree Knight. He was also active in the Knights of Columbus at the state and national levels for over 20 years–he was elected State Warden in 1972, State Secretary in 1997 and 1998, State Deputy in 1979, 1980 and 1983 and Supreme Warden in 1986. Frank was appointed to the Knights of Columbus International Board of Directors in 1987 and elected to the Board in 1988. He was re-elected to three additional terms to the Board of three years each.
He enjoyed golfing, fishing, especially when teaching his grandchildren, and planning yearly family vacations.
Frank was a registered professional engineer in Tennessee and received numerous honors and awards during his life. He was named AEDC Fellow in 2005. He was also an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and a member of the Tennessee Society of Professional Engineers. He graduated from Central High School in Shelbyville, Tennessee, received his BS degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology in 1960, a MS degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tennessee/UTSI in 1968 and a MS degree in Aviation Systems from the University of Tennessee/UTSI in 1976. He published extensively throughout his career and was the author of numerous AEDC Technical Reports and papers to the Supersonic Tunnel Association and the AIAA.
Frank was preceded in death by his parents, Francis Marion Jackson Jr. and Sara Raco Jackson of Shelbyville, Tennessee and Birmingham, Alabama respectively.
He is survived by his wife Marie; a daughter, Sara (Chris) Ford of Charlotte, North Carolina; two sons, Frank J. Jackson of New York, New York, and John P. (Elizabeth) Jackson of Murfreesboro, Tennessee; three grandchildren, Emily M. Ford, C. Jackson Ford and John Osborne Jackson; a sister, Constance (Leonard) Beasley of Unionville, Tennessee; and numerous nieces, nephews, and extended family.
Visitation will be from 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm on Friday, October 24th, 2014 in the chapel at Kilgore Funeral Home, 215 Mitchell Blvd, Tullahoma, with a Rosary following.
Funeral services will be Saturday, October 25th, 2014 at 10:00am at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, followed by interment at Rose Hill Memorial Gardens, 4758 New Manchester Highway, Tullahoma.
Serving as active pallbearers, will be Frank J. Jackson, John P. Jackson, Christopher Ford, C. Jackson Ford, Fred Battle, and Frank Keeny. Third and Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus will be serving as honorary pallbearers.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to St. Paul the Apostle Church, 306 West Grizzard Street, Tullahoma, Tennessee 37388 for the restoration of the Pieta and its surrounding gardens.
Kilgore Funeral Home in charge of arrangements.