Catherine E. Jackson, Oct. 31, 1937 — Jan. 1, 2023
Catherine E. Jackson died peacefully and quietly in the early hours of 2023. She was 85 years old and leaves behind three daughters, eight grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren, as well as a daughter-in-law, three sisters, and many nieces, nephews, and friends.
Catherine, known as Cass or Cassie for most of her life, was the very definition of small but mighty. She was the oldest in a family of seven kids—six girls and one boy (he got his own room)—and two loving parents, Thomas and Catherine Gilday. Cassie and her siblings grew up in Philadelphia, and she graduated from Little Flower Catholic High School in 1955 with her best friend Cassie Plover (now Laughlin), with whom she remained lifelong friends. Even then, Catherine longed to travel and have adventures.
Catherine was the first in her large Irish Catholic family to fly on an airplane (to Florida in the late 1950s, but not to Cuba as planned after her flight was cancelled because of events related to the Cuban Revolution). Her adventures took a new direction when she met Dad, fell in love, and the two created a family together. In the early 1960s, they moved from Philly to the Jersey Shore town of Toms River—and Cass had to learn how to drive.
Catherine was smart, curious, and a voracious reader, and in her early 40s, she went back to school. In 1980, she earned an Associate in Arts, cum laude, from Ocean County College, where she was a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. In 1982, she earned a Bachelor of Social Work from Georgian Court College (now University), summa cum laude and as a member of Psi Chi, the National Honor Society in Psychology. And in 1986, she earned a Master of Social Work from Rutgers University. She sat at the end of the couch studying each night while life went on around her, and she earned three degrees, with honors.
Catherine had a long career at the Ocean County Board of Social Services in Toms River, and during this time, she started traveling again. With her husband Jim, with friends, and with other family members, Catherine explored the United States—from the West Coast to Kentucky horse country to New England and many places in between—and other parts of the world, including Canada, Ireland, England, Scotland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, and, most recently, Bermuda. Many of the U.S. cities she visited were to attend figure skating competitions (she’d talk about Olympians like she knew them, because she’d watched them grow up on the ice), and she had a whole group of friends with whom she enjoyed those trips.
Catherine also loved watching any kind of sports on TV (particularly the Olympics and most recently men’s golf and the World Cup), spending time with her family (especially at large gatherings in Philadelphia), Irish whiskey and Irish music and a pint of Guinness in an Irish pub (in Ireland), lemon water ice, a good meal (preferably cooked by someone else), Good & Plenty, neck massages, warm slippers, and so many more of life’s little joys.
After retirement, Catherine and Jim moved to Kitty Hawk, N.C., where they lived in a beautiful house on the water designed and built by their oldest son. Those days were spent watching wildlife and getting involved in their OBX community. Later years brought them back north, but only as far as the Virginia-Maryland area, to be nearer to family.
Catherine is survived by her three daughters Susan (Jay), Paula (Chris), and Hillary (Matt), and her daughter-in-law Ann Marie; her eight grandchildren Brittany, Katie (Alex), Shauna (Keith), Daymian, Holly, Caysey, Eve, and Harry; and her five great-grandchildren Jackson, Jet, Rivur, Evan, and Mae. She also is survived by three of her sisters: Floss, Miriam, and Donna, with whom she “yapped” and laughed (and laughed!) on many occasion.
Catherine was predeceased by her husband of more than 50 years, James P. Jackson, and her two sons, James P. Jackson Jr. and Kenneth Jackson, as well as her parents, her brother Thomas, and her two sisters Rita and Judy.
A memorial service will take place on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023 at 11 a.m., were they will receive family and friends from 10:00-11:00 AM at John F. Fluehr & Sons, 3301-15 Cottman Ave. in Philadelphia, with interment immediately following at Resurrection Cemetery, 5201 Hulmeville Road in Bensalem.
Catherine was challenged by health problems and heartache in recent years, and she faced it all with remarkable strength. All the while, she retained her sense of humor, her intellect, and her curiosity. She followed news and political events closely, keeping her copy of the U.S. Constitution close at hand (and The Mueller Report in her bathroom for light reading). She still wanted to see more of the world, so in her honor, go somewhere new and have an adventure! When she couldn’t go herself, she loved to hear about others’ travels. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Catherine’s name to the Southern Poverty Law Center (splcenter.org)