Elmer M. Jackson Jr., Capital editor, Anne Arundel library board president


An obituary in yesterday's editions of The Sun incorrectly stated the number of branches in the Anne Arundel County library system. There are 15.

The Sun regrets the error.

Elmer M. Jackson Jr., a former editor and vice president of the Annapolis Evening Capital and the Maryland Gazette newspapers and president of Anne Arundel's library board for more than 40 years, died yesterday of heart failure at a nursing home in Annapolis. He was 89.

Mr. Jackson wrote several books, including a noted history of Annapolis, was a Naval commander during World War II, a state delegate and an Annapolis alderman.

But his most lasting legacy is the Anne Arundel Public Library system, which evolved from one library when he started in 1938 to the current eight branches.

"The libraries were his real love," said former County Executive Joseph W. Alton Jr. "We had one library in Anne Arundel County, that you could really call a library. He influenced me and . . . we built eight really complete libraries during my administration."

Mr. Jackson's journalism career began in Hagerstown, where he was born in 1906. When he was just 12, he went to the editor of the Hagerstown Daily Mail and told him he wanted to be a reporter, said his son, Allen Conard Jackson of Annapolis.

His father told the story of being sent by the editor to cover a house fire to see what he could do. Young Elmer began his story: "A candle burning on a Christmas tree . . ." sparked the blaze.

"He said, 'I like your entrance into the story,' and he said, 'You're hired,' " Allen Jackson said. "In his teen years, he became a reporter at a daily newspaper because he knew how to come into a news story."

While he was still a student of St. John's College, from which he graduated in 1927, he became a sports reporter for the Capital. He later was city editor, editor, general manager and vice president.

Shortly after he was named editor of the Evening Capital, he took a leave to serve in the Navy during World War II. In 1941, he was assigned to the Naval Academy, where he attained the rank of commander and served as head of intelligence.

After his discharge in 1947, he returned to the Evening Capital as editor, general manager and vice president.

"He wielded an enormous amount of power in the city at one point of his life," said Roger "Pip" Moyer, a former Annapolis mayor and alderman. "He was the managing editor of the only daily newspaper in town . . . He had enormous clout with the local officials."

He ran the paper until 1969, when owner Talbot T. Speer sold it to Philip Merrill, the current owner. At the time, Mr. Jackson filed a $30 million breach of contract suit against Mr. Speer and Mr. Merrill, claiming he had a prior agreement to buy the newspaper.

After leaving the Capital, Mr. Jackson became publisher of the Anne Arundel Times weekly newspapers, which continued publishing until the mid-1970s.

One of his best friends, state Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein, remembered Mr. Jackson as "a good newspaperman."

Mr. Goldstein recalled that he was elected with Mr. Jackson to the House of Delegates in 1938. "He and I had a very similar philosophy," the comptroller said. "We were middle of the road people. We weren't too wild, we weren't too conservative."

Mr. Jackson was a member of dozens of civic associations. He was the oldest living member of the Annapolitan Club, the Annapolis Civitan Club and the Annapolis Elks Club. He was a commander of the Annapolis chapter of the Military Order of World Wars and a past president of the Maryland Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.

In 1929, he married the former Mary Waters Allen Conard. They were divorced in 1970.

A son, Elmer Martin Jackson III, is deceased.

Services will be held at 2 p.m. tomorrow at St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Annapolis.

He also is survived by his wife, Doris G. Jackson; a daughter, Pamela Jackson Groark of Riviera Beach; three stepchildren, Raymond O. Blummer of Glen Burnie, David Allen Blummer of Centreville and Sharan Marshall of Prince Frederick; 13 grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.

Memorial donations may be made to the Anne Arundel Public Library Board, 5 Harry S Truman Parkway, Annapolis 21401.

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