Harold Ward “Sonny” Jackson Obituary, Death – Preceded by
Harold Ward “Sonny” Jackson Obituary – Harold Ward “Sonny” Jackson, 85, a former 40-year resident of Yuba City, CA, passed away on December 26, 2021, surrounded by his loved ones. Harold was born on January 31, 1936, to the late Otis and Irene Jackson in Gloster, MS, on a dining table at their 1200-acre farm. Generations of Jacksons were farmers in Amite County, raising row crops, timber, and cattle. Harold left the farm to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in vocational agriculture at Southeastern Louisiana University.
Harold’s first entrepreneurial venture was his laundry business he began while attending college. He went room-to-room in the dorms collecting dirty clothes, had them professionally laundered, and returned them to students, earning his fees from the convenience. His business acumen increased over the years, culminating in his role as president and CEO of Sun-Diamond Growers Inc. and Sunsweet Dryers. During his tenure, Sunsweet sales grew from $113M to $200M, and the Sunsweet Growers plant in Yuba City, CA, received the first Sun-Diamond Safety Leadership reward. It was through his affiliation with Sunsweet that he was privileged to travel extensively around the world, spreading his love for prunes.
Prior to joining Sunsweet, Harold was plant manager at Duffy-Mott’s Fruit and Juice Processing Plant in Hartford, MI. He began his career as director of quality control for Cherry Growers Inc. in Traverse City, MI.
Harold dedicated his career to agriculture. He was a member of the California Prune Board and the Prune Marketing Committee and was a member of the boards of directors of the Dried Fruit Association of California and the national Farm Credit Leasing Corporation.
Harold received an honorary business degree from Harvard University. He was an Eagle Scout with three palms and served as a member of the Buttes Area Council Executive Board.
Harold served as a councilmember and mayor pro tem for the city of Hartford, MI, chaired the annual Prune Festival in Yuba City, CA, chaired the Bok Kai Festival in Marysville, CA, and served on the Marysville Sister City Committee, traveling to Peikang and Hong Kong. He also served on the Board of the Columbia Country Club.
Harold was an elder in the Presbyterian Church from the age of 18 and was on the Finance Committee at First United Methodist Church in Columbia, MS.
In 1999, Harold was named Alumnus of the Year at Southeastern Louisiana University and served as Grand Marshall of their homecoming parade.
From a young age, Harold excelled at being an all-around cowboy. In 1955, he won first place in calf roping, second place in bareback riding, and best overall cowboy; winning him a silver buckle, sports jacket, and chicken dinner at the rodeo. He was also awarded Junior Mississippi State Champion. At 59 years old, Harold returned to his rodeo roots and won overall cowboy at the R Ranch annual rodeo in Northern California.
Harold spent his retirement enjoying the lake, fishing, golfing, and participating in the men’s Fox Trails Group every week.
Harold was a dedicated and actively involved father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He and his wife, Shirley, traveled between their homes in Yuba City, CA, and Lumberton, MS, to spend time with family on both sides of the country.
His family will remember his stories, kindness, giving spirit, and the twinkle in his eye when he smiled.
Harold was preceded in death by his father, Otis Jackson; mother, Irene Jackson; and first spouse, Sarah Jackson.
He is survived by his spouse, Shirley Jackson; daughters, Summer Jackson, and Melanie Randolph; stepsons, Bruce Livingston (Mary Nell), Brett Livingston (Betty) and Brad Livingston (Rhonda); grandchildren, Tori Terhune (David), Carolyn Randolph, Jay Livingston (Marylin), Blair Shafer (Austin) and Bryce Livingston; and seven great-grandchildren.
Funeral services were held at First United Methodist Church on Wednesday, December 29, 2021, with Reverend Keith Gaughf officiating. Harold will be laid to rest at Sutter Cemetery in Sutter, CA, on January 13, 2022, at 1 p.m.