Bishop Wenzell Jackson, a Bronx preacher and community leader, died from a heart attack Feb. 5. He was 47.
The towering Jackson, known for his baritone singing voice, was chairman of Community Board 4 since 2010. The board covers predominantly poor and working class neighborhoods of Highbridge, Concourse and Mt. Eden in the west Bronx.
“This is a shock to everyone,” said CB4 District Manager Jose Rodriguez. “I didn’t know he was ill.”
Besides his board chairmanship, Jackson was also senior pastor at Mount Hermon Baptist Church in Highbridge since 2003, after leaving a corporate job at Xerox.
Councilwoman Helen Foster agreed, saying “He became the pastor of all faiths.”
Jackson set goals to changeng the economic mindset of the mostly poor neighborhood, said Rodriguez, encouraging development. “He wanted to see how we can create prosperity within the district,” said Rodriguez.
He noted that Jackson was a strong proponent for rezoning 161st Street to include more businesses.
He also had a passion for steering young people out of trouble, taking part in Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.’s “Peace in Our Streets” initiative.
Jackson also tackled ending a flood of homeless shelters around the neighborhood. News of his passing spread within the Bronx political sphere, particularly with elected officials who closely worked with him.
The borough president called Jackson’s passing a “big loss for the Bronx.”
Assemblywoman Vanessa Gibson called Jackson a “special leader.” “His spiritual leadership touched the hearts and souls of many who came in contact with him,” she said.
Jackson is survived by his wife of 24 years Tamra.
As of press time, funeral arrangements were pending.David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383
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