by DALE K. MYERS
The former Dallas police radio dispatcher who handled the police emergency in the wake of the Kennedy assassination has died at the age of 77 in Hamilton, Texas.
Murray James Jackson was a warm a fun-loving soul who will be remembered by friends and family for his great sense of humor and helpful attitude.
He was born in Marshalltown, Iowa, on September 24, 1934 to Murray Bernard and Lura Fern Jackson. In 1943, they moved to Dallas, Texas, where Murray spent most of his childhood. He attended Sunset High School and in 1952 as a senior got a part-time job working at a Mobil service station at Hampton and Fort Worth Avenue. It was there that he met many Dallas police officers who would occasionally come in, use the restroom, drink a Coke, and take a break.
One of those officers was J.D. Tippit, whom Jackson grew to admire. “I wanted to be just like him,” Jackson once said. “He impressed me quite a bit.”
In 1957, Jackson was drafted into the U.S. Army but was released a year later on a hardship discharge. It was then that he decided to pursue his dream of becoming a Dallas police officer.
He graduated from the police academy in June of 1958. After working late nights and evenings for nearly three years he was partnered with the man who inspired him – J.D. Tippit. They worked together until early 1963 when Murray took a position in the department as a radio dispatcher.
On November 22, 1963, Jackson sent his former partner and personal friend into the central Oak Cliff section of Dallas. Thirty minutes later, Tippit was shot to death at Tenth and Patton after stopping Lee Harvey Oswald. It was a tough blow for Jackson who never really came to terms with the loss.
Jackson retired from the police department in November, 1994, and moved to Hamilton, Texas, with his wife Mary Jo to be close to her mother and father. They opened an antique store just off the town square which they operated for many years.
Those who knew Murray knew him as a gentle man who forever enjoyed telling jokes and making people laugh. He had an intense love and commitment to his family and was a devoted husband to Mary, and a loving and caring father to Mary’s children.
He was also open to discussing one of the most intense and tragic moments of his life, the assassination of President Kennedy and murder of his friend and fellow officer, J.D. Tippit.
I had the good fortune to sit and talk with Murray for many hours in 1985 and 1999, and found him candid, funny, serious, and knowledgeable. On more than one occasion, he went out of his way to help answer questions and unravel some of the mysteries and confusion that followed in the aftermath of the assassination. For that, we are forever grateful.
Murray Jackson died on March 16, 2012, in Hamilton, Texas, at the age of 77.
He is survived by his wife Mary Jo; daughter, Melinda Jo Cohen of Hamilton; son Richard Eddie Blackmon of Hamilton; three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
He will be missed. [END]