Shirley Vaughn Jackson

Shirley Vaughn Jackson

Friday, January 26th, 1934 - Saturday, July 25th, 2020
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Shirley Mae Vaughn Jackson passed away on Saturday, July 25, 2020, at Calvary Hospital – Bronx, NY after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. Shirley was born in Poughkeepsie, NY on January 26, 1934. She grew up on Violet Avenue in Hyde Park, NY, and graduated in 1951 as the Valedictorian of the F. D. Roosevelt High School. As a youth, she was active in the community serving as a club leader and member of the Executive Committee of the 4-H Clubs in Dutchess County. She was hired out of high school as the first Black office employee at the Central Hudson Gas and Electric Company General Headquarters.
Shirley was a member of Smith Street A.M.E. Zion Church in Poughkeepsie, NY where she served as pianist and church secretary. From her youth, she was active in the Women's Home & Overseas Missionary Society. She received her inspiration for missions from her mother, Eleanor Benjamin, who worked to improve housing and child-care for the many workers employed in the Hudson Valley orchards and farms.
On December 16, 1967, Shirley married the Rev. Dr. Belvie H. Jackson, Jr. and, in June of 1968, they were assigned to Greater Centennial A.M.E. Zion Church in Mount Vernon, NY. They became the parents of two daughters, Christina Beth and Belinda Marie. Although the girls kept her busy, you could always count on a unique Christmas Greeting from her each year. Shirley assisted her husband with many aspects of his ministry and service. She was active and held many leadership roles in the church, schools, and community throughout her life. Shirley was the creative force behind many campaigns, programs, and workshops. She was the Director of the Greater Centennial Junior Choir and continued playing for the choir and pouring into the spiritual life of youth into her early 80’s.
Shirley accompanied her husband to the historic first conferences in Jamaica, West Indies and London/Birmingham, England and visited AME Zion churches in the Virgin Islands and Bahamas. She was very active in the Minister's Spouses and Widows(ers) Fellowship having served as the New York Conference President for many years and mentored many spouses across the AME Zion Church. Until her passing, Shirley continued to serve as the New York Conference Mission Education Director and Chairman of the Global Missions Committee.
For several years Shirley worked at Robert Fulton Elementary School as an Assistant Teacher for a New York State pilot program. From 1988 until her retirement in June 2019, she was employed by the City of Mount Vernon Youth Bureau in the Mount Vernon High School CAPP Career Center where she continued to assist many students with job-readiness skills, employment, summer programs, college enrollment and scholarship applications. After delaying her college education until her daughters completed college, Shirley earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services from the State University of New York Empire State College in 1996.
At the insistence of her family and friends, Shirley shared the story of her personal, childhood relationship with her neighbor, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, in the form of a book, Hot Dogs for the Queen, published in June 2009. Shirley was the guest speaker for Mrs. Roosevelt's 130th Birthday Celebration in the F.D.R. National Historic Site Rose Garden where, as a youth, she served as an usher for President Roosevelt’s burial. In March 2020, her last public outing, she was honored by the United Nations Association of Westchester for International Women’s Day. Shirley dedicated much of her time in her final years to sharing favorite recipes and photos with her grandsons and writing a historical cookbook that her family will publish in her memory.
Shirley Vaughn Jackson was predeceased by her loving husband, the Rev. Dr. Belvie H. Jackson, Jr., her mother, Eleanor Vaughn Benjamin, and her father, Leroy Benjamin. She leaves to cherish her memory her youngest daughter, Belinda Marie Jackson of Catonsville, MD; her oldest daughter, Christina Beth Penrose (Clint Penrose) of Friendswood, TX; her grandsons of whom she was so proud, Tyson Kamal Jackson Penrose of Los Angeles, CA and Josiah Vaughn Jackson Penrose of Friendswood, TX; her sister-in-law Emma Gomes of Charlotte, NC; many cousins, nieces, and nephews; godchildren and a host of friends.
All who had even a brief encounter with Shirley can attest to her boundless energy, genuine smile, and firm guidance. Her legacy for excellence can be summarized in one of her favorite quotes, “Good, better, best; Never let it rest; Until your good is better, And your better is best.” --St. Jerome
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Service Details

  • Visitation

    Friday, August 14th, 2020 | 9:30am - 10:45am
    Friday, August 14th, 2020 9:30am - 10:45am
    Greater Centennial A.M.E. Zion Church
    312 South 8th Avenue
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Interment

    White Plains Rural Cemetery
    167 N. Braodway
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
Private Family Service @ 11:00am May be viewed via Facebook Livestream:


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