SOUTH LOS ANGELES — Funeral services are pending for E.J. Jackson, the South Los Angeles limousine company owner whose annual Thanksgiving turkey giveaway provided meals for thousands of needy families for more than three decades.
Ellsworth Jackson died Nov. 1 of an apparent heart attack, according to his family.
“His legacy will live on, and on behalf of our family, I want to say thank you so much for showing your love and sharing my father’s love,” Jackson’s son, Tyron, said through tears at a news conference at the family’s business. “I learned so much from him, and this is the hardest thing right now.”
Jackson was the owner of Jackson Limousine Service, which has become well-known as the chauffeur to the stars. But Jackson became even better known for his annual turkey giveaway, which attracted celebrities who volunteered their time to help package and hand out food boxes to the thousands of needy residents who would sometimes wait in line for days.
According to the company, the giveaway began in 1982 when some area senior citizens who couldn’t afford Thanksgiving holiday meals approached Jackson, who responded by buying 100 turkeys and creating the E.J. Jackson Foundation. The next year he bought 200, and the next he bought 500.
The giveaway grew into an annual community event. Last year, more than 12,000 turkeys were handed out, along with other Thanksgiving meal fixings.
Family members told reporters that this year’s turkey giveaway will go on as scheduled on Nov. 22. The foundation is still asking for donations of turkeys and other meal fixings.
Mayor Eric Garcetti called Jackson an “inspiration” and a “role model.”
“The holidays in L.A. won’t be the same without E.J. on the streets at sunrise, making sure everyone’s basket is full,” Garcetti said. “He set a timeless example for us to follow, and we can honor his legacy by building on the tradition he started and committing ourselves every day to making a difference in the lives of our families, friends and neighbors.”