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Alpharetta's First Parks & Rec Employee Retires

Mike Jackson spent 36 years working for Alpharetta's Parks and Recreation Department, holding the distinction of being its first full-time employee.

Friends, city staff and relatives–plenty of relatives–stopped by Monday night to send Mike Jackson off into retirement.

The 36-year employee of the Parks and Recreation Department was its first full-time employee, and he ran a one-man operation from day one. But he also made use of volunteers, including his own family, in preparing city parks and fields for use. Parents saw him out there day after day, working on the fields and staying late until it was time to turn off the lights on the fields.

"Because Mike was so amazing, he made parents want to help as well," said former City Clerk Sue Rainwater, also a long-time city employee.

Jackson started working for the city on April 8, 1976, having been hired by then-Mayor Randall Moore. He was raised in Alpharetta, attended , and lettered in baseball, basketball, football and track at . After graduation he attended Jacksonville State University on a full scholarship to play football and run track.

He named every mayor he worked under, and many City Council members he said the rest of us would have been proud to have met. Like most successful managers, he credited all the help he received from his coworkers, other city departments and all the parent volunteers who helped out.

He named his sister, Kathy Shirley, as his inspiration, as she has battled cancer and is now a cancer survivor. He also credited his four brothers with inspiring him.

"We don't want Mike to retire, but he chose to and he's earned it," said City Manager Bob Regus.

Have you been to , or walked on the ? Jackson handled the construction of all of those projects, and many smaller projects.

He tried to thank Capt. John W. Lipscomb Jr., who served on the USS Iowa as an inspiration in his entire family's life and for guiding him through all his life. But the wizened veteran had something to day about that. "It's been the other way around," the retired Naval veteran said.

Hearing the tale, it's obvious Jackson was a big help. His coworker at Alpharetta, Alice Smith, explains how Lipscomb made an impact on him.

The two men were friends, and when Lipscomb's wife developed cancer, becoming bedridden, the retired Naval captain would sit by her and read. No one came to their home to relieve him until Jackson went to the Lipscomb home to give him a chance to get out of the house. And after she died, Lipscomb got a call that his parents, who were livining in California, were in bad health. He brought them to Alpharetta to live with him and took care of them both.

"This made a big impression on Mike to witness John taking care of his family," Smith said.

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