Donald R. Jackson

POYNETTE – Donald R. Jackson, age 79, passed away on Saturday, January 20, 2024, at his home in Poynette.

Donald was born on July 30, 1944, in Brooklyn, New York, to Ralph and Marie (Kurtz) Jackson. Interested in other ways of life even as a teenager, he spent a high school summer working at a rural farm, then enrolled in Oklahoma State University in 1962. It was in Oklahoma that Don discovered his love for environmental conservation, agriculture, and public service – and after graduation, he joined the newly established Peace Corps with an assignment in Lima, Peru. There, during what he would later call the most formative years of his life, Don met and married the former Carmen Silva on October 31, 1968. To follow Don’s career in international economic development, he and Carmen moved first to El Salvador and then back to the United States, where Don enrolled in the University of Wisconsin in 1971 and became a plankholder of the school’s Agricultural and Applied Economics program. While Don pursued his PhD, he and Carmen moved from DeForest to Poynette in 1975, and welcomed their first child, Kyle, in 1978. Their daughter, Kimberly, was born in 1981. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Don traveled extensively for work, developing ecotourism and agricultural programs for the U.S. Agency for International Development, other government and nonprofit organizations, and as an independent consultant to benefit local populations in countries such as Ghana, Bolivia, and Ethiopia. He survived months on the road in austere conditions, multiple bouts of malaria, and even assassination attempts – all in the name of economic equality (and very entertaining stories.) When back at his home in Poynette, which he still called his favorite place in the world after visiting 75 different countries over the course of his life, he relished in nature, antique collection, blues music, fishing, woodworking, political debate, and teaching at the UW Land Tenure Center. After (notional) retirement, he devoted much of his time to volunteering at the MacKenzie Environmental Center as treasurer, and in helping guide its maple syrup production program. He also was an active member of the Poynette Curling Club for many years, as a teammate, instructor, and club official. Still, despite his many experiences, activities, and skills, he loved above all else to sit beside his wife.

In addition to Carmen, Kyle, and Kimberly, he is survived by his beloved daughter-in-law, Laura (McCann) Jackson; two grandchildren, Finley and Brenna Jackson; his son-in-law, Cristopher Ulrich, and other relatives and many friends who will miss him, his conviction, and his curiosity greatly. 

A memorial service will be held at 12:00 p.m. on Friday, January 26, 2024, at Pflanz Mendrala Funeral Home in Poynette, followed by visitation until 2:00 p.m. Burial will follow in Dekorra Cemetery. 

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Friends of MacKenzie Environmental Center, P.O. Box 225, Poynette, WI 53955.