CECIL FRANKLIN JACKSON ~ May 9, 1936 - March 15, 2010
One of the most dedicated fans of Hank Williams. All of his life, he dreamed of a memorial museum to keep the legacy of Hank Williams alive. It is that life-long achievement of such a determined man that we wish to honor.
Cecil Jackson was born on May 9, 1936 in the Lightwood Community of Elmore County, Alabama better known as Beat 14. Cecil attended school at Lightwood Grade School and Holtville High School. He learned about Hank Williams at an early age by listening to Hank's radio programs on WSFA in Montgomery.
His first encounter with Hank was in 1944, when as a young boy of 8, Cecil noticed a gathering of people at a service station across the highway from where he lived. He ran across the highway and instantly recognized who was there. Hank, Audrey and Lycrecia had stopped there to get a cold drink. Hank said, "Son, wouldyou like a coke?" Cecil said "Yes Sir" and took one from the icebox. Man, did he have a story to tell when he got home!
Cecil then decided he wanted to play the guitar. It took several years and a couple of old guitars, but he finally taught himself to play. A few years later he entered a local competition of a statewide talent contest put on by WBAM radio, and conducted by Shorty Sullivan. This competition, which was normally held on the Courthouse steps, was held this day at the Wetumpka High School Auditorium. Cecil won the first place prize of twenty-five dollars. The state finals were later held at Garrett Coliseum where he placed second.
Cecil's second time to meet Hank was in late 1947. Hank had come to the Lightwood schoolhouse during school hours to book a show. Of course, once word got around that Hank Williams was there, all the boys had gathered around. After setting up the singing date, Hank went back to his car to leave, only to discover he had a flat tire. Hank did not have a jack, so he told all the boys "gather 'round and help me lift this car". Cecil and four or five others jumped at the opportunity and lifted the car and put blocks under it to hold it up. Hank changed the tire, and once it was back on the ground he started to go. Before leaving he thanked the boys and told them "you boys be listenin' to WSFA radio today at 4:30, 'cause I'm gonna dedicate a song to the Lightwood Flat Fixers". And he did.
During summer vacation of '51-'52, Cecil worked as a bag-boy at Robinson's Super-mart, located on the corner of McDonough Street and Madison Avenue downtown Montgomery. He often delivered groceries to Hank's Mother at her McDonough Street boarding house.
In December of 1952, Cecil worked at the OK Rubber Welders Company. On Saturday the 27th, Hank drove his 1952 baby blue Cadillac to the shop to have the tires rotated and balanced. Cecil helped do the job and then drove the car back to the boarding house. He gave the keys to the woman who answered the door, and as he was leaving he noticed Hank sitting inside the room. He nodded and then walked the 2 blocks back to work. A few short days later, Cecil was shocked to hear that Hank had passed away in the back seat of his car on the way to a New Year's Day show in Canton, OH.
Soon after this Cecil was inspired to form a band. He joined with five friends, and they became the Melody Ranch Boys. They played on WETU Radio station, at High Schools, Community Centers, local clubs and even at the Service Club on Maxwell AFB. Occasionally, a local celebrity radio artist, Charles Williams would invite them to play with him on WSFA Radio.
On Christmas Day, 1954, Cecil married Betty Allen of Wetumpka. They have 3 daughters and 2 sons. Between Wanda, Beth, Joel, Kay and Darrell, they have formed quite a large family with 15 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.
Beth Petty became the museum manager in 1999 because of her father's influence and love for this great legend. In 1976 she realized a dream her father had while observing him sort through old records, books and yellowed newspapers. I was 17 years old and remember walking past the assortment of memorabilia, "What are you going to do with all this old junk?" I asked daddy. "I hope it will go in a museum for Hank Williams one day." he replied.
The late Cecil Jackson is her dad and it was his dream that finally came true on February 8, 1999 with the opening of the Museum in Montgomery where he served as president of the Hank Williams Memorial Foundation Montgomery until his passing on March 15, 2010.
It was his life-long dream to build a fitting Memorial Museum to a legendary Country Music Star, Hank Williams. His dream came true by great personal sacrifice, perseverance and staying true to himself. Thanks to all who helped with this enormous task of making a country boys dream a reality.
Cecil was inspired by a gift from his Aunt Doris to begin collecting Hank Williams memorabilia. She gave him the little .35 blueish gray pocket song book from WSFA. It was his number one prize possession. It is proudly displayed and can be seen at the Museum.
Cecil Jackson was involved in every conceivable facet of the Hank Williams Legacy. His achievements included the Memorial Services held each year at Hank's final resting place, and helping establish the International Fan Club where he served on the board of directors. In 1993 he helped with the formation of a boyhood home museum, which houses some of Cecil's personal collection. He directed the installation and dedication ceremony in 1991 of the life-size bronze statue in Montgomery. In 1997-'98 he was instrumental in getting signs dedicated on the 65 mile stretch "Hank Williams Memorial Lost Highway" on Interstate 65.
While lesser men would have been satisfied with such an impressive list of accomplishments, Cecil went further and established the Hank Williams Memorial Foundation in Montgomery, AL where he served as President for 13 years. On February 8, 1999, in historic downtown Montgomery, Cecil's lifelong dream was fulfilled with the opening of the Hank Williams Museum.
The Museum houses the most complete collection of Hank Williams' Memorabilia. A visit to the Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery is a visit into the past, a past that continues today, the life and times of Hank Williams
Hank Williams Museum
118 Commerce Street
Montgomery, AL 36104
$10.00 - Ages 15 & UP
$3.00 - Ages 3 - 14
We offer group rates upon
request AAA and Military
9:00am - 4:30pm
10:00am - 4:00pm
1:00pm - 4:00pm