Baha'i News -- Professor, actor was an inspiration to many Saturday, September 14, 2002

Last modified at 9:14 p.m. on Friday, September 13, 2002

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Professor, actor was an inspiration to many

He was a great man with "miles and miles and miles of heart," to quote from the musical Damn Yankees. He died recently at age 84.

What did it mean to know Sam?

Nature has a remedy for loneliness, smallness, meaninglessness and despair: belong to, associate and identify with, have give-and-take with a cause or being greater than self. Some men and women are themselves a great cause. They call us to participate in their greatness. Professor Sam Jackson was one of these.

Sam, an awesome actor whose voice has been compared to that of "The Voice," James Earl Jones, was for many years professor of communications at Florida Community College at Jacksonville, South Campus. He grew up in Washington, D.C., son of the White House chef of the Roosevelt years. His birthdays were sometimes celebrated in the White House. On occasion, Sam sang for FDR. In his early career, he was in big-time shows; he shared the Broadway stage with James Earl Jones.

Sam was active in stage productions here. I recall him in To Kill a Mockingbird at Players by-the-Sea, a performance so convincing that after the final curtain, some in the audience wanted to assure him that everything would be all right. Sam always became his character. He gave his heart to his character. I recall that Sam was one of the Three Kings in Amahl and the Night Visitors at Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre. Sam directed me in FCCJ's The Hasty Heart.

Sam had a hasty heart -- one hasty to love. He gave his heart to others and so changed the lives of thousands of students. He was an inspiration, with charisma, who not only taught acting skills, but also gave students life -- meaning without preaching -- just by his personality.

Sam strictly practiced his Bahai faith, daily reciting a long prayer from its sacred scripture, believing in one God and one people. Neither I nor anyone associated with Sam ever heard him speak an unkind word to or about anyone. Sam had "miles and miles and miles of heart."

Robert Viall

Jacksonville Beach

A civil problem

During the past few years, the Neptune Beach politicians (in order to get re-elected) kept reducing our taxes. This has resulted in a fiscal shortfall, which will require austerity as well as increasing the income. Mrs. [Harriet] Pruette is concerned about the effect that raising taxes will have on "senior" citizens (a new buzz word). Does she realize that most of the senior citizens have a cap on the amount that their taxes can be raised? Does she realize that if we don't raise taxes a little this year, it might require a much larger increase next year? The cost of doing business (sewer repairs, water repairs, streets, etc.) is NOT going down, but up.

Now, with a fiscal shortfall in sight, the council has decided not to charge the people on Penman Road for the full cost of restoring their water and sewer. The city did not cut either the sewer line or the water line! This is NOT a city problem, but a civil problem that should be settled (and paid for) by the parties concerned. I am amazed that the council can raise my taxes while giving away the city's money to other people.

John A. Merritt III

Neptune Beach

Gallery a winner

I just wanted to offer my compliments on the beautiful photographs by your staff photographer Maggie FitzRoy (Shore Gallery, Aug. 31).

Several are truly worthy of exhibition. Maybe you should gather some together and print them on good paper and use them in your promotion. They are great!

Ralph Torrey

Ponte Vedra Beach

©Copyright 2002, The Florida Times-Union

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