Nathan Jackson Sr. was a Renaissance man -- a singer and dancer, an armchair "Jeopardy" contestant, and a beloved neighborhood fixture.
"He was a character. Everybody called him Mr. J.," said his daughter, Toni Goode, 63, a mental health coordinator, of Patchogue. "He was the last surviving man of that era."
Jackson died Monday at home in Amityville of congestive heart failure. He was 96.PhotosRecent notable deaths See alsoSee more LI, U.S. obits
He was born in Charleston, South Carolina, and his family moved to the Bronx in 1928. He served in the Army during World War II, fighting in the European theater and attaining the rank of sergeant.
When Jackson returned home, he met Laverne Ricks at a company boat ride sponsored by the Manhattan garment manufacturer where they both worked. Jackson dazzled her with his dance moves, Goode said. "He was a fabulous dancer, like Sammy Davis Jr.," she said. "He danced his way into her heart."
The two married in 1947 and moved to Amityville in 1955. Jackson worked as a truck driver for a Hicksville tile company and later a Manhattan construction company.
He enjoyed the freedom of truck driving, and when he delivered cement mix, he took to calling himself a "mixologist," Goode said.
Jackson was also a sports fan who enjoyed provoking local rivalries with his support for the St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Lakers. "He did not like any New York teams. He was a contrary guy," said his son Nathan Jackson Jr., 65, a former Newsday researcher and reporter who lives in Amityville. "He would go to Ebbetts Field and root for the Cardinals."
In his older years, father and son developed a nightly tradition of watching the game show "Jeopardy" and vying to answer the questions. "His mind was crystal clear. At 95, 96 years old he was still answering questions," Jackson said. "He was naturally the most intelligent man I ever met," he added.
In addition to his son and daughter, he is survived by his sister Pearl Lucas, 91, of the Bronx, and brother William R. Jackson, 94, of Los Angeles.
Laverne Jackson died in 2006.
A wake will be held at the Powell Funeral Home in Amityville from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday. The funeral is 11 a.m. Monday at St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Amityville, followed by burial at Pinelawn Memorial Cemetery.