Dr. Conrad Worrill, Chicago Crusader
Leighton Glenn Jackson (Better known as Pompy or Frog)
I am writing this brief reflection of my 67-year friendship with Leigh-
ton who recently made his transition to eternity in Houston, Texas on December 19, 2017.
I met Leighton on the corner of 57th and Maryland sometime in September of 1950. We bumped into each other walking to Ray Elementary School in Chicago. Ray School was a predominately white public school in Chicago in the well-known Hyde Park community, part of the University of Chicago neighborhood.
We made some kind of pact immediately because we didn’t see any other children who looked like us. So we decided that we would meet after school that day and walk back home together. On the way back home, we were getting to know each other and somehow in our interaction the issue of our dates of birth emerged in our conversation. We discovered that we had an astrological connection. I discovered that Leighton was born August 17, 1942 in Chicago. I shared with him that my birthday was August 15, 1941 and that I was born in Pasadena, California. Leighton wanted to know how I ended up being born in Pasadena. We stood on the corner of 57th and Maryland and I attempted to explain to Leighton how I ended up being born in Pasadena and why I was living in Chicago as a result of the job that my father took to head up the historic Wabash YMCA. At that point we agreed we would meet every day on 57th and Maryland and walk to school together. Leighton was in the 3rd grade and I was in the 4th. As Leighton was crossing the street I asked him his address and he said 5740 S. Maryland and I said, “WOW! I live at 5640 S. Maryland.” From that moment on Leighton and I became joined at the hips as best friends.
One day after school, I went to Leighton’s house where I was introduced to his mother and father, Deola and Andrew. Their house was full of people and a loving environment. I soon learned that Leighton’s mother was a hairdresser and “did hair” in her kitchen. I shared with my mother, Anna Belle, that my new friend’s mother “did hair.” My mother asked me for her number as my mother was in need of her services. Our family had only been here for a month and my mother needed to get her hair done. These interactions of family led to a lifelong friendship that was more like Leighton being my brother. Through this process I met his auntie Estelle, his sister Ann, and all of Leighton’s mother’s people, the Goodars, and I met Mr. Jackson’s family. Leighton and I discovered that we loved sports, and we loved to learn, which connected us throughout the years.
This brotherhood and friendship led me to observe that Leighton was a very bright young man and that he was very personable with an outgoing personality and that he was very sharp intellectually. One of our major differences as youngsters was in our bubble gum card collection. Mickey Mantle of the New York Yankees was Leighton’s favorite baseball player, and my favorite bubble gum card was Willie Mays of the New York Giants. This was our first great debate. As the years passed, we had hundreds of debates on many subjects. Leighton was a great debater. From the Wabash YMCA gym programs to Leighton playing on the Atomic Sox Little League team, it became clear that Leighton had great athletic potential. He and I played football wherever we could play; we also played basketball, baseball and participated in track and field when that season was in. Leighton and I shared this common characteristic of friendly competition throughout our lives as to who got the best grades and who was the best athlete.
Leighton matriculated into Hyde Park High School as a freshman in the fall of 1956; I had been at Hyde Park for a year. I was able to receive Leighton into the high school environment at Hyde Park. It was through our high school experiences that we met lifelong friendships, such as Reggie Williams, Arthur Hyrams, Albert Jefferson, Spurag Foster, Ernie Thompson, Rufus Calhoun, James Futrell and many others. We were all student athletes at Hyde Park.
One of Leighton’s most exciting athletic accomplishments was that he was an outstanding player on the 1959 Hyde Park Blue Division city championship football team. In the fall of 1960 Leighton entered Northern Illinois University. One of Leighton’s greatest disappointments was being cut from the basketball team because of blatant racism. Leighton emerged as a student leader and became a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.
Upon graduating in 1964 Leighton began teaching in the Chicago Public Schools system where he eventually coached the basketball team at Phillips High School for two years. Leighton was a great coach and teacher. During his marriage to his first wife, Pat, he wanted to provide greater resources for his family. So he left the teaching ranks and worked for Naval Intelligence for two years before landing his job at IBM, where he emerged as a successful salesperson of IBM products. Again, racism raised its ugly head, and after years of working for IBM in Chicago, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Texas, Leighton was finally forced to file a lawsuit against IBM for racial discrimination that led to a settlement. Leighton used this situation to once again change professions and ventured into the world of real estate. He and his current wife Glenda have been in the real estate business for the last several years. Leighton loved his daughter Brandi and his grandchildren Sterling and Skyler. Obviously 67-years of friendship is too much to share for this occasion.
It is without question that Leighton Glenn Jackson had a powerful and impactful life. May he rest in peace!