Those who knew Peter Jackson during his time at the Minneapolis Police Department remember him as much for his love for life as for his work as an officer.
"He really lived life. He did so many things," said Mike Furnstahl, a friend and retired Hennepin County prosecutor. "He was a pilot. He scuba dived. He was an athlete. He built his own house and designed it and was a contractor on it."
Jackson, a retired Minneapolis Police Department sergeant, died unexpectedly July 29 of a heart attack. He was 66 years old. A celebration of his life is planned for Oct. 17 at Golden Valley Country Club.
"He was an incredible guy," Furnstahl said. "Everyone who knows him is really going to miss him."
Jackson worked in law enforcement for nearly three decades, spending the bulk of his career with the Minneapolis police patrolling the North Side, working undercover in narcotics and eventually earning a promotion to sergeant and a homicide assignment.
When he retired, then-Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak proclaimed Dec. 20, 2006, "Sergeant Pete Jackson Day." Jackson moved to Arizona afterward but stayed in close contact with his many Minnesota connections.
Al Berryman, a retired MPD officer, was president of the police union and grew familiar with Jackson during the investigation into the shocking ambush killing of Minneapolis police officer Jerry Haaf in 1992.
Haaf's gang killing is among the most notorious murders in Minneapolis history, with the four convicted men still serving prison time.
Jackson provided Berryman with regular updates on the investigation. Berryman recalled that Jackson was personable and really listened, even during such challenging circumstances.
"He did a great job in homicide," he said.
Former Hennepin County Judge Tony Leung recalled seeing Jackson in his courtroom to obtain search warrants but also frequently peeking through the door's window. Leung, now a U.S. magistrate judge, later learned Jackson was interested in court reporter Kathleen Feldman, which explained the surreptitious glances.
Jackson and Feldman began dating, which led to a friendship between Jackson and Leung, with the judge asking Jackson to be a godfather to his children.
Leung recalled Jackson was a gifted communicator.
"He was always able to get people to talk to him," Leung said.
Jackson's retirement involved as much action as his police work, according to Feldman. He fearlessly jumped out of airplanes, then earned his pilot's license so he could fly his floatplane. Jackson was also comfortable behind the tiller of a sailboat on the ocean. He hiked up mountains, including Rainier and Kilimanjaro, and found joy in skiing and biking down the slopes at breakneck speed. Before his death, he was studying piano and guitar.
Jackson spent his first 10 years in Gary, Ind., before his family eventually settled in Minnesota, where he graduated from Central High School in 1974. He then obtained an associate's degree, and much later in 2018, completed a bachelor of science degree in law enforcement from Metropolitan State University.
Jackson started as a police officer at the Brooklyn Center Police Department in 1978, then became a sheriff's deputy at the Hennepin County Sheriff's Department in 1980 before joining the Minneapolis Police Department in 1983.
His parents, Phillip and Helen Jackson, and his brother, Reed Jackson, preceded him in death. His sister, Stacey Jackson of Minneapolis, half-brother, Phillip Jackson Jr. of Chicago, his "soul mate," Kathleen Feldman, and their devoted dogs, Louie and Molly, survive him.
The celebration of life is Oct. 17 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Golden Valley Country Club, 7001 Golden Valley Road.