By Asher Price
June 16, 2016
Joaquin Jackson, a 27-year Texas Ranger veteran who gained renown after gracing the cover of Texas Monthly magazine, died Wednesday in Alpine at the age of 80.
Jackson, who was born in the Panhandle town of Anton, had suffered from lung cancer, his friend and family lawyer Shelton Smith said.
When he was selected to be on the February 1994 cover of Texas Monthly for a piece about how the legendary law enforcement organization clashed with the modern world, Jackson — tall, imposing, mustachioed — had already had a long, storied career in the Rangers.
Stationed in Alpine and Uvalde, patrolling a large swath of South and West Texas, Jackson had been involved in a shootout at a Carrizo Springs jail (“we drove right up in the middle of shooting. … I mean bullets was flying everywhere,” he told interviewers for an oral history project in 2008); he helped capture a famed horse thief who was known for his fastidiousness, having left clean dishes and swept floors in the homes he burgled; he investigated numerous homicides; and he helped discover country singer Johnny Rodriguez, putting the inmate in touch with a music promoter after hearing him sing in jail.
He had pressed for the 1973 hiring of the Rangers’ first Hispanic officer in more than half a century, but the 1994 Texas Monthly story was chiefly about his discomfort with change in the organization.
He had retired from the Rangers the previous year after higher-ups had women chosen whom he considered unqualified candidates to be the first female Rangers, according to the story by Robert Draper.
“When they hired those two women, that clinched it for me,” Jackson told Draper.
“Politics and law enforcement don’t mix,” he continued. “They never did. A lot of us got tired of it. It just got to be too much.”
He parlayed the fame from the magazine cover into a film career, sometimes playing an aging law enforcement character in a changing West, and authored a memoir, “One Ranger.”
Jackson was a member of the governing board of the National Rifle Association, once getting into hot water over remarks he made about assault weapons.
“I personally believe a weapon should never have over, as far as a civilian, a five-round capacity,” he told then-Texas Monthly editor Evan Smith in 2005. “If you’re a hunter, if you’re going to go hunting with a weapon, you shouldn’t need over but one round. So five rounds would be plenty. … Personally, I think assault weapons basically … need to be in the hands of the military and in the hands of the police.”
He later backpedaled from the remarks, claiming that he was talking only about fully automatic weapons and not about semiautomatic rifles.
In a piece this past April on gun ownership, he told Texas Monthly: “You hear people going around talking about how much they love guns. I love my country, I love my family, but I don’t love guns. I just have a deep respect for them.”
Jackson, said NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre, “was an American hero in the truest sense.”
Jackson is survived by his wife, three children and numerous grandchildren.
Former Gov. Rick Perry said that Jackson “served Texas and his country with skill and pride.”
A memorial service will be held 1 p.m. June 25 at the Pete P. Gallego Center at Sul Ross State University in Alpine.
Born: 1936, Anton, Texas, U.S.A.
Died: 6/15/2015, Alpine, Texas, U.S.A.
Joaquin Jackson’s westerns – actor:
The Good Old Boys (TV) – 1995 (Wes Wheeler)
Streets of Laredo (TV) – 1995 (cowboy)
Rough Riders (TV) – 1997 (stagecoach passenger)
Palo Pinto Gold – 2009 (Sheriff Jackson)
Wild Horses – 2015 (Ranger Jackson)