Paul Keith Jackson, Jr. died suddenly on August 8, 2018 of a heart attack at the age of 66. A memorial service is scheduled for Friday, August 24, 2018 at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, 1970 LaVista Road, Atlanta, GA, 30329. A reception will follow. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Paul Bryant-Jackson Memorial Scholarship Fund; send checks to Miami Foundation, Attn: Susie Sadler, 725 Chestnut Street, Oxford, OH, 45056 or donate online by contacting . Donations can also be sent to Open Door Ministry; send checks to 2366 Kemper Lane, Cincinnati, OH, 45206 or donate online at Paul was born in the Walnut Hills neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio on September 23, 1951. He attended Cincinnati Public Schools and graduated from Withrow High School. He then attended Dartmouth College, where he received a B.A. in Theatre. He went on to pursue graduate studies, receiving an M.A. in Playwriting from the University of Cincinnati and a Ph.D. in Theatre from the University of Wisconsin. He also earned a Certificate of Management from the Wharton School of Business and a Certificate of Dramaturgy from the University of Amsterdam. Paul entered a career in theatre, and over the years was involved in many aspects of the profession, including teaching, scholarship, directing, and administration. He began his career teaching middle school students at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. In 1986, he moved to Atlanta to teach at Spelman College. He remained at Spelman for 12 years and moved through the ranks from Assistant Professor to full Professor. In 1998, he began a position at Miami University of Ohio and remained there until his retirement in January 2017. In addition to his responsibilities as a Professor in the Department of Theatre, he served as Department Chair and Director of Graduate Studies. He taught world theatre history, directing, and seminars on topics such as August Wilson, African American theatre, and gender, race, class, and sexuality in theatre. After retiring, Paul was a part-time instructor at Spelman College, teaching a course called “African Diaspora and the World,” a first-year seminar he had helped to design almost three decades earlier. At both Spelman and Miami, Paul directed numerous theatre productions, many of plays written by notable African-American playwrights including Adrienne Kennedy, Pearl Cleage, and Lorraine Hansberry. During his long career, he received awards and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, The Ford Foundation, and The Coca Cola Foundation among others. Paul was actively involved in professional theatre organizations. For almost three decades, he was a member of the Association of Theatre in Higher Education and the Black Theatre Association. He attended and presented at conferences of these organizations almost every year and was actively engaged with numerous focus groups concerned with race and sexuality. He also participated frequently in the Black Theatre Network and served as a reviewer for the National Association of Schools of Theatre. Paul’s scholarship revolved around African-American playwrights, and particularly African-American women playwrights. He published several articles in academic journals and edited collections. He was a nationally recognized expert on the playwright Adrienne Kennedy. He was the founding editor and a member of the executive editorial board of the online journal Continuum, The Journal of African Diaspora Drama, Theatre and Performance. Paul lived primarily in Cincinnati from 1998 until January 2017. He was a member of the Church of the Advent in the Walnut Hills neighborhood where he grew up and again resided later in his life. In 2016, he served on the church vestry. In Atlanta, he frequently attended St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church. Paul found a life partner in Jim (James) Engstrom. They met while students at the University of Wisconsin and maintained a loving relationship for 41 years. They recently married in March 2018. Besides Jim, Paul is survived by his sister Cesi (Cecelia) Jones and husband Chuck Jones, nephews Abdul Jones and Ahmet Jones, 3 grand-nieces and nephews, and special cousin Deborah Zimmerman. He is survived by in-laws Robert Engstrom and Kay Whipple and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins in the Engstrom family. Paul was a cat lover and is survived by his four kitties Queenie, Chucky, Loretta, and Divabella. Paul is preceded in death by his father Paul K. Jackson and mother Cecelia (Bryant) Jackson. Additionally, Paul is survived by a large theatre community in Oxford and Cincinnati, Ohio, Atlanta, and throughout the country. For Paul, theatre was more of a calling than a vocation, and he touched the lives of dozens of students, colleagues, and professional associates at Spelman College, Miami University, the Black Theatre Association, and beyond. Those who knew him continually praise his mentorship abilities and his incredible generosity of intellect and spirit. If some people create a ripple as they live their lives, Paul created a big wave of love, understanding, and knowledge. Known for his warmth, honesty, humor, and big heart, he will truly be missed by all those who were blessed to have known him. Ashe, Paul!

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  1. No dreams deferred, my friend my brother. You were good– stunningly so. And you were loved. Rest well.

  2. You will be forever loved and treasured, Dr. J. Mark and I were both blessed to know you and will never forget your ebullient spirit, joyous laugh, passion for teaching, and most all, your LOVE of students, life and theatre. Thank you, and bless your dear husband and family. Rest In Peace. You will never be forgotten.

  3. Dearest Dr Paul Jackson,
    Thank you for blessing my life with theatre 🎭. I can recall our conversation while I was in Paris France 🇫🇷 singing and performing my first European opera for a month and a half in Nov/Dec 2017. The words of wisdom you gave me with ring loud and strong in my heart. I know to be absent from the body, is to be present with the Lord…yet my heart is sad that you’re gone. Saw hello to my kitty cat Snowball for me. You Will Never Be Forgotten. Love ❤️ YOU Paul

  4. Paul,
    Your guidance with the Mosaic students when they came to Miami, changed their lives and mine forever. Thank you my friend. Sorry we never got to our ” gun and juice”.

  5. Dr. Paul Keith Jackson, it was an honor getting to know you during your time at Miami U. You were an excellent mentor and friend to many graduate students. Our last conversation just a few weeks ago proved that — you were still connecting with students during retirement. Prayers to your family, you will be missed.

  6. With love and admiration…i will miss you my friend. You are and have been one of our Tallest Trees…walk well until we meet again…

  7. Dr. J,
    You were a huge inspiration from the moment I came to Miami and I will always cherish your friendship and mentorship. I appreciate the number of times I could reach out to you for support or just to say hello and see how things were going. You were a blessing and will never be forgotten. Rest In Peace my friend.

  8. My prayers to your family. I have fond memories of our High School days at Withrow and reconnecting at Miami.
    Your smile and zest for life will be missed. Rest in peace.

    Karen Carroll Brentley
    Withrow Class of 69!!! Go Tigers

  9. I am so grateful to have had you in my life as a professor and a director. You will truly be missed. Emjoy your life sabbatical.

  10. Paul was a kind and wise friend when I was a freshman at Dartmouth and he was a senior. I remember him for both profound insights into human nature, for uproarious laughter, and for his great talent as a playwright and dancer.

  11. All God’s comfort to your partner, family and friends. I have always had fond memories of our fun times at Withrow.

  12. Will see you again on the other side Uncle Paul. See the theater in the best seat in the house. And enjoy the race track with Grandpa.

  13. For whatever reason, I searched for Paul until i unfortunately found this page. Some souls are so gifted and blessed that time doesn’t diminish their shine. I call him Paul w the highest respect bc i knew him when we were both kids way back in Cincinnati. He would walk the neighbors dog (Champ) and I would walk along with him. Even at that age he was teaching. I never got the opportunity to tell him that those walks carried me through life and gave something to hold onto during the dark days.

    Although I lost touch with him and only now found out he passed his love lives on.

    Thanks Paul. I was listening.

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