Michael Shannon Jackson

March 2, 1951 - May 29, 2023

Michael Jackson was born in New Orleans on March 2, 1951. When he was three, his family moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico where his father went to work for the FAA. His family consisted of his mom, Joan; his dad, John (Shannon); his brother, Curtis; (Tony); his sister, Shepley; and later his stepdad, Jim Keith. As he grew up, he loved spending the summers reading Tom Swift, science fiction, and comic books. Michael also started his love of working on cars when he was young by building slot cars that he would modify with a homemade soldering gun. He also loved basketball, but got injured before tryouts 2 years in a row.

Michael graduated from Del Norte High School in 1968 and started attending University of New Mexico. During freshman year, he dropped out (mostly because he was playing pool too much) and then got drafted for the Vietnam War. He was stationed at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs as a cook, then as a statistician and never got deployed.

After Michael’s military service ended, he started a jewelry business in New Mexico working with silver and turquoise. The business was bought by a local retailer who he then worked for as a production manager for a couple of years. Michael decided to use his GI Bill to go back to school at University of New Mexico. He worked two summers in a uranium mine and two summers at Sitka Sound Seafoods in Alaska.


After graduating in 1983 with a major in mathematics and a minor in astrophysics, Michael moved to the Seattle area to work as a software engineer.  He loved his work and couldn’t believe he could get paid to solve problems.  Of course, he also enjoyed the camaraderie and naps on the job.  He worked at several companies including Teltone, Majiq, InterConnections, WRQ, and NetMotion.  Michael always appreciated the mentors early in his career and in return mentored others to develop their abilities. He had little tolerance for those who didn’t want to continue to learn.

In 1987, he married his life partner, Peggy McLeod and they had a son, Will, in 1989.  Michael was devoted to his family. He always made us a priority, providing us with the love, safety and learning that allowed us to flourish.  We traveled as a family to six continents. Antarctica, the final one, came upon Peggy’s retirement.  There were camping car trips to Alaska and across the country exploring nature and meeting up with friends, riding a dory (wooden boat) down the Grand Canyon, sailing in Greece, and “glam” camping in the British zone at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.  If you threw in a car show or astronomy event, Michael would go anywhere.

After his family, his dogs were always critical to his happiness. Eowyn, Stormy, and Cobie.

Michael loved basketball and always wanted to teach us the strategy and thinking behind the game. When watching a game on TV with Michael, the TiVo was always critical. Part of the fun for him was pausing the game and breaking down each play.

He coached Will and his friends through elementary school. This led to lifelong friendships with a wonderful group of parents.  He was a fan of both the Seattle SuperSonics and the Storm.  He never forgave Schultz for orchestrating the Sonics move.

Michael was Mr. Fix-it around the house, another opportunity to solve problems.  His main project was restoring a 1978 Porsche 911.  Always researching what he wanted to do with it, but it seemed like an excuse to buy tools to others. He eagerly looked for opportunities to share his skills with Will, who plans to join the endless journey with the Porsche.

Caring about the environment and taking on racial prejudice were cornerstones for how he lived his life. He rarely allowed people to be stupid without receiving feedback.

Michael and Peggy’s shared mornings were the best of times. A self-made master barista, he would make lattes, and then they would read the paper together.  While discussing what was happening in the world, he would point out the comics he thought Peggy would like, and they would enjoy a friendly competition on the puzzles.  Then he would show Peggy some wonderfully classic vehicles for sale (never in their budget) and the best astronomical photos of the day.

Will remembers Michael always being a teacher (sometimes a bit of a lecturer). Michael wanted to share everything with anyone that would listen, but Will was his favorite student. From home and car repairs, to passing down his love of space, science, and sports. He set a great example of what a loving husband and father looks like.

We miss him terribly. A parting, as a result of heart surgery, that should never have happened so early in our lives.


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