SUTHERLAND—The annual Labor Day Celebration parade in Sutherland is going to be an especially grand procession for one resident.
Sixty-seven-year-old Judi Selk Jackson of Sutherland will serve as the grand marshal for the big event.
The 2018 festivities will take place today (Saturday, Sept. 1) through Monday, Sept. 3. The Labor Day Celebration parade kicks off at 10:30 a.m. Monday.
Born and raised in Sutherland, Jackson has spent most of her life in the community. She lived in Fort Collins, CO, and Loveland, CO, between 1971-82.
Two things brought her back home: Family and the pace of life in a small town.
“Fort Collins, at that time, was the fifth-fastest growing city in the nation. I sat down and figured out I was spending a third of my life waiting in line or waiting in traffic,” Jackson said. “I thought, ‘A third of my life waiting. I could be doing things.’”
She has made the most of that extra time.
After returning to Sutherland, Jackson operated a gift and craft shop called Country Cupboard out of her home and taught crafting and painting lessons.
“I’m a frustrated craftsman, I guess,” she said. “I love to make things and I love to teach people how to paint and do things like that.”
During this time, Jackson was the secretary for the Sutherland Commercial Club. She served in that position for about three years. Then she became the secretary for John “Dick” Bird, Sutherland High School principal and athletic director.
As area school districts began to consolidate, Jackson left the Sutherland school system for a secretary position in the city engineer’s office and worked part time at Mary O’s Jewelry.
Owner Mary Oosterhuis moved the business to Missouri, so Jackson decided to go back to college. She enrolled at Iowa Lakes Community College at 49 years old.
Jackson earned an associate degree as a medical secretary and became a medical records coder at Spencer Hospital.
“Initially, I had an associate of arts degree in interior design that I got from Hawkeye Tech way back in the early ’70s,” she said. “It was kind of fun being with these younger gals. I could help them with things because I had been in college before. It was terrific. I’m so glad I went back and got into the medical field.”
Jackson worked at Spencer Hospital for 11 years before retiring in 2013.
“I’ve had, I can’t tell you, how many jobs. A lot of long-term ones, too,” she said. “It’s amazing how much you can pack in when you work two or three jobs sometimes.”
Despite health problems, Jackson continues to be involved in the community. She is a member of the Home and Hobby Club and is on the board of directors with the Friends of Gen. N.B. Baker library group.
She still makes arts and crafts and is willing to teach those who wish to learn. She also enjoys spending time in her garden that she shares with her neighbors or bonding with her tabby cat named Maggie Mae.
Jackson was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999. She went into remission for 11 years, but in 2011, the cancer returned.
“But good news — I got on a clinical trial and it was very successful,” Jackson said. “I’ve been on a succession of treatments since then and all have been successful to varying degrees, so I’ve been able to stabilize it, which is wonderful. That’s the best I can hope for.”
Jackson received a welcome surprise earlier this week when she learned her sister, Jean Pingel, would be joining her for the Labor Day Celebration parade in Sutherland.
“She lives over in eastern Iowa. She’s been out there about five years,” Jackson said. “Best move she ever made, but I miss her.”
Jackson and Pingel will be riding in style thanks to Jackson’s fiancé, Hollis Petersen, who will be driving them during the parade in his new car.
“Hollis bought a convertible. He said he wanted to buy it so he can drive me in the parade,” Jackson said.
Surprised and honored describe Jackson’s reaction to being named as the parade’s grand marshal.
“It’s a wonderful community. They used to have a motto, ‘The community of caring and sharing,’” she said. “We all try to help each other as much as we can. It’s been that way since I was a little kid.”