After a 6 1/2-year battle with cancer, Troy Jackson called on South Metro Fire Rescue Chief Bob Baker and another high-level member of the agency to talk the afternoon before he died. And, in his …
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After a 6 1/2-year battle with cancer, Troy Jackson called on South Metro Fire Rescue Chief Bob Baker and another high-level member of the agency to talk the afternoon before he died.
And, in his trademark humor, he said: “Missed it by that much.”
That was Troy.
Baker told that story on stage at the memorial service Dec. 20 for Jackson, a former South Metro assistant chief of operations who died at age 51 after fighting a rare job-related terminal cancer.
But the years of illness couldn't shake the man who became an inspirational figure in the fire agency, remembered as steadfastly moral and always willing to help. Some words loved ones used to describe Jackson: Superman. He had a childlike grin. Christ-follower. Softball co-coach.
“Troy laid many bricks in South Metro's foundation,” Baker said. “Our fitness and wellness program is one of those bricks.”
South Metro is known nationally for its commitment to wellness, Baker added.
“Some of you have shared that Troy was your role model,” Baker continued. “He was certainly mine.”
At the Denver First Church of the Nazarene in Cherry Hills Village, memories from colleagues, friends and family painted a picture of a man who “poured himself out to others,” in Baker's words. When a friend sold a couch to someone who arrived in a Prius, Jackson loaded the furniture in his truck and drove it all the way to their house. He once noticed a neighbor's fence had blown over, and he gathered his equipment and fixed it without being asked, according to another friend.
Jackson once said, “ 'It's not enough to be doing the right thing — you have to be doing it for the right reasons,' ” said Paul Russell, South Metro's chaplain.
Jackson was diagnosed in 2013 with adenoid cystic carcinoma, according to South Metro. He died Dec. 16.
He was born in Englewood and married his high school sweetheart, Lori Dee, more than 29 years ago. Jackson was hired as a firefighter in 1990 and was promoted to engineer in 1995, lieutenant in 1997, captain in 2005, training bureau chief in 2015 and assistant chief of operations in 2016, according to the agency. Jackson stepped down in August due to his health.
A multitude of firefighting and law enforcement agencies attended the memorial service, comprising hundreds of uniformed personnel. At least dozens of vehicles from those agencies from around the state — from Pueblo to Thornton to Louisville and many in between — drove from the church south through Greenwood Village and Centennial.
Gov. Jared Polis, mayors, councilpersons and other public officials attended the service, according to speakers.
Before the service, Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock called Jackson “a strong partner.”
“Chief Jackson is a longtime friend. Matter of fact, we just hired his daughter as a deputy sheriff,” Spurlock said.
Jackson's daughter, Carley Jackson, spoke on stage, saying South Metro personnel are less likely to go home with cancer than before because of her father's efforts. The agency plans to continue to make health and safety improvements to reduce the exposure to carcinogens on the job.
“My dad will live on as my best friend in heaven,” his daughter said.
Jackson had abundant love for his kids, his loved ones said. When his daughter was recently sworn in as a sheriff's deputy, Jackson pinned her badge on, his face showing his pride.
Lee Eilers, brother of Jackson's wife, read a statement from Jackson's parents on stage. Eilers' comments focused heavily on Jackson's faith, and the parents' statement said they'd see Jackson again.
“For now,” the parents said, “we say so long to our Superman.”
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