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"My purpose was to exhibit the love of God and its power—despite any challenges—and to declare the joy that the Holy Spirit gives no matter what is going on my life."
– Edgar B. Jackson
Life lessons learned growing up in the segregated South girded the future doctor for his move to Cleveland, Ohio, at age thirteen. Dr. Jackson graduated from Central Senior High School in 1952 and Case Western Reserve University with a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry. He was called to duty as a U.S. Army Specialist, 4th Class in the Medical Corps, 1959-1961, serving in the Korean War. After his honorable discharge, he returned to Cleveland to pursue his deferred but never forgotten dream of becoming a doctor. 1966, the dream became a reality when Edgar B. Jackson earned a Doctor of Medicine degree from Case Western Reserve University, graduating with honors. Admittance to the medical school (where his peers would elect him class president each year) had not been without its challenges. The barriers he broke, the doubters silenced, and the trails blazed to becoming an MD would become part of his life's mission as he focused and never wavered on why he wanted to be a doctor.
The young doctor completed his internship in a newly formed mixed practicum of pediatrics/internal medicine and his residency in internal medicine at Cleveland's MetroHealth Medical Center. He was board-certified in internal medicine and certified by the Ohio State Board. In his first leadership role, Dr. Jackson was chief of medicine residents at MetroHealth. After that, he joined the faculty at MetroHealth, and while there, he was one of only two Carnegie Commonwealth Clinical Scholars in Cleveland. The program developed national leaders who would be change agents in medicine. Starting in 1970, Dr. Jackson held several key senior and executive leadership roles at University Hospitals of Cleveland and Case Western Reserve University for over fifty years. Among these positions were senior instructor in medicine, assistant professor, associate clinical professor, and clinical professor of medicine. In addition, he was appointed the first assistant dean of Minority Student Affairs and served three years in that role. Dr. Jackson was appointed associate chief of staff at University Hospitals in 1991 and rose to co-chief of staff and senior vice president for clinical affairs before being appointed chief of staff in 1997. Upon his retirement from this position in 2000, he was appointed chief of staff emeritus and special assistant to the president & CEO. In addition, from 2004-2009, he served as senior advisor to the hospital's new president.
During this time, he was the administrative leader in charge of creating and implementing a strategy to ensure the hospital system had a multicultural group of administrators, recruited, and retained a talented pool of minority faculty, and built partnerships with minority- and female-owned businesses in Greater Cleveland. Throughout his tenure at University Hospitals, Dr. Jackson's position as hospital leader and practicing physician allowed him to establish and collaborate with others to create formal and informal recruitment and mentoring programs. He was well known for the international recruitment of top minority doctors and surgeons to Northeast Ohio. While serving as associate chief of staff, Dr. Jackson led the formation of the David Satcher Clerkship, a national model for recruiting minority medical students at University Hospitals and served ten years as the program's director.
In 2004, the Edgar B. Jackson Jr. Endowed Chair was dedicated at University Hospitals Case Medical Center. It was the first endowed chair to honor an African American physician in Ohio and the only endowed position in the nation that promotes and ensures diversity among future medical leaders. Additionally, the first Excellence in Mentoring Award by University Hospitals' Minority Staff Organization was presented to Dr. Jackson. From Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, he received the Outstanding Minority Alumni Award and was appointed to the board of the Medical Alumni Committee. The African American medical students annually present a mentoring award named in his honor.
Among other distinctive honors and appointments, Dr. Jackson was elected to the National Academy of Medicine and was the second African American elected to the American Board of Internal Medicine's board of governors in 1981, serving for six years. From 1987 until his retirement in 2005, he was part of the Cleveland Physicians Inc. group practice at the University Suburban Health Center. In any given year, his practice had approximately 2,500 patients.
In 1997, Dr. Jackson and the Reverend Dr. Otis Moss Jr., then senior pastor of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, co-founded the University Hospitals Otis Moss Jr. Health Center. The innovative facility focuses on at-risk individuals and offers care in a spiritually supportive environment, including family medicine and general pediatric services, social services, patient navigators, and referrals to dietitians, pharmacists, and other health care professionals. The Center's success remained one of Dr. Jackson's most treasured examples of how leaders can come together to close the gap in providing medical care to minorities.
In 2006, he received the Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation's Louis Stokes Visionary Award. The honor was of particular significance because it was created in recognition of Louis Stokes, who served thirty years in the United States House of Representatives. Congressman Stokes was a close friend and longtime collaborator of Dr. Jackson in regionally and nationally advancing equal access to healthcare. The physician and legislator partnered to co-chair the Community Advisory Board of the Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED).
While serving as special assistant to the president of Cleveland State University (CSU), Dr. Jackson was also the co-director of the NEOMED-CSU Partnership for Urban Health. He received the Northeast Ohio Medical Association's Clinician of the Year Award, the Star Award by Ohio Cancer Research, and the Ohio Commission on Minority Health's Crystal Stair Award. He was the inaugural recipient of the Health Legacy of Cleveland Award. In 2022, on Martin Luther King Day, he received the Drum Major for Change Award from the Cleveland Public Library. Dr. Jackson was a fellow of the American College of Physicians.
In service of his continued mission to educate future generations, aspiring physicians and scientists each year attend the Edgar B. Jackson Jr., MD/University Hospitals housed at the Cleveland School of Science and Medicine at John Hay High School. In 2017, the school earned a silver medal in the national U.S. News & World Report rankings. Dr. Jackson was a founding board member of the school.
Dr. Jackson's community and public service included serving as the health director of the City of Shaker Heights and as the medical director of an early neighborhood-based program called Movement for Improved Glenville Health Today (MIGHT.) His 2012 Northeast Ohio Neighborhood Health Services (NEON) Neighborhood Health Champion recognition and the 2017 Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) Award by the Ashbury Senior Computer Community Center were evidence of his commitment to community-based health and wellness programs for all. Several programs where he held key leadership roles earned and sustained national attention, prominence, and impact.
Dr. Jackson's work to improve patient access and expand higher education and professional opportunities for underrepresented minorities is core to his legacy. He authored and co-authored over a dozen medical and community health articles. They ranged from renal hypertension, hospital screening, emergency room practices, physician influence on patient compliance, medical careers, and clinical practice to sickle cell anemia. For decades, he sought to change physicians' attitudes about patients with sickle cell disease. He was the medical director of the American Sickle Cell Anemia Association, a member of the Ohio Department of Health's Sickle Cell Anemia Advisory Committee, and chair of the Cleveland Academy of Medicine's Sickle Cell Anemia Advisory Committee. As principal of EBJ & Associates, LLC., his consulting firm specialized in coaching and advocating for medical and administrative staff, strategic planning for cultural intelligence and inclusion, and pipeline development and programming to eliminate health disparities.
At the end of 2018, Dr. Jackson retired as special assistant to the president for Health Affairs at Cleveland State University. He continued to serve as chief of staff emeritus at University Hospitals and executive in residence at Cuyahoga Community College.
Aging did not daunt Edgar B. Jackson Jr., and he did not take too well to retirement. He tried it several times. Each time he announced it, hospitals, colleges and universities, and civic and community organizations took it to mean that he had more time for them. His service to the community and the under-served never ended. His home phone rang regularly with friends, family, and others, asking, "Ed, I saw my doctor, but what do you think?" In 2016, Crain's Cleveland Business selected him for the magazine's Eight over 80, a high-profile feature of thriving octogenarians. "I just have not been able to be contented being retired," he said. "I like to stay busy, that is part of it, but a bigger part is that I still see tremendous need, and I still have the energy to help. I feel like I need to help." And help he did.
"I will have a successful life if I am devoted to my faith in God and my family and contribute to society at large.
I hope to be remembered as a joyful Christian who found God,
family, and community, and did his best to help those in need.”
– Edgar B. Jackson Jr.
The family will receive friends Friday, December 1, 6-8 PM at Antioch Baptist Church, 8869 Cedar Ave., Cleveland, OH, 44106. The Wake will be Saturday, December 2, 10:30 AM, followed by the Celebration of Life Service at 11:30 AM at Faith Fellowship Church, 10277 Valley View Rd., Macedonia, OH 44056. The service will be live streamed. Public viewing is Friday, 1-4 PM at the E. F. Boyd & Son Funeral Home, 2165 E. 89th St. www.efboyd.com