Henson Leo Jackson, a retired steelworker who in his retirement was a popular Mr. Fix-it, died of cancer complications Tuesday at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. The West Baltimore resident was 79.
Mr. Jackson was born in Clarksville and raised near Fort Holabird. He left Baltimore County public schools in the ninth grade and went to work to support his family.
From 1945 to 1948, he served in the Army as a clerk. While in the service, he was trained as a mechanic and carpenter.
After his discharge, he drove a cab part time and then worked at Bethlehem Steel Corp.'s Sparrows Point plant as a laborer.
Mr. Jackson rose through the ranks, and in 1968 became the first African-American foreman assigned to the coke ovens, family members said.
"He worked at Bethlehem for 33 years, three weeks and three days before retiring in 1985," said a son, Stephon Jackson of Finksburg.
He started helping family, friends and clients with home-improvement projects.
Mr. Jackson lived on Woodbourne Avenue for years before moving to West Baltimore in 2003. He was a longtime communicant of St. Peter Claver Roman Catholic Church.
Mr. Jackson was an avid bowler and karaoke singer.
A Mass of Christian burial will be at 10 a.m. tomorrow at his church, 1542 N. Fremont Ave.
Also surviving are his wife of 58 years, the former Doris Louise Quick; four other sons, Freddie Jackson, Marty Jackson, Marcus Jackson and Dwight Jackson, all of Baltimore; three daughters, Doris Washington, Jeannie Jackson and Shirley Shumaker, all of Baltimore; a brother, Henry Jackson of Catonsville; 14 grandchildren; and 22 great-grandchildren.