UPDATED WITH OBITUARY: Texas Racing Industry Loses Champion, Friend Sammy Jackson

(Austin, Texas - Saturday, November 29, 2014) - On Monday evening, November 17, the Texas racing industry lost a champion and friend with the passing of Samuel "Sammy" Jackson. A popular figure in the horse racing industry both within Texas and around the country, Jackson will be deeply missed by his many friends and coworkers.

Sammy had been part of the Texas racing industry since joining the Texas Racing Commission in 1994. He was the Commission's Deputy Director for Finance and Wagering at the time of his passing.

The Texas Racing Commission issue the following statement on November 18:

"All of us at the Texas Racing Commission lost a dear friend and valued coworker Monday evening with the passing of Samuel "Sammy" Jackson. With his family at his side, Sammy passed away yesterday at St. David's North Austin Medical Center after a prolonged illness.

"Sammy held a variety of positions with the Texas Racing Commission since joining the agency in 1994, and most recently served as the Deputy Director for Finance and Wagering. Sammy was admired for his sense of humor and his encyclopedic knowledge of pari-mutuel issues, both within our agency and throughout the racing industry.

"Sammy will be greatly missed and our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time."

Below is Sammy's obituary that ran in the Lake Charles American Press:

Samuel "Sammy" Earl Jackson, 49, of Austin, Texas, passed away on Nov. 17, 2014. He was born to Sam Jackson Jr. and Jackie Granger Jackson on May 22, 1965. Sammy is survived by his mother; a sister, Kathy Jackson; a brother and sister-in-law, Eddy and Elizabeth Jackson; a nephew, Eric Jackson; and nieces, Nicole and Baylee Istre. A memorial service will be held on Nov. 29, 2014, at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Vinton with rosary at 10:30 a.m. followed by Mass at 11:00 a.m.

Sammy graduated from Vinton High School in 1983, where he was a member of the Vinton High marching band and 4-H club. He then attended McNeese State University and graduated in 1987 with a degree in accounting. After graduation, he began working as an accountant for Delta Downs until he was hired as an assistant chief auditor by the Louisiana State Racing Commission. Word of Sammy's skill didn't take long to cross the Piney Woods of East Texas. In early 1994, the Texas Racing Commission offered him a job and persuaded him to return to the state of his birth.

Well known and respected among racing regulators across the country, Sammy was a remarkable man whose life was dedicated to ensuring that racing was safe for the participants and fair for the public. Over the years, he was a voracious student of the industry until he learned every facet of pari-mutuel horse and greyhound racing. Through his development of pari-mutuel wagering rules in Texas, which later became the starting point for the national model rules, Sammy became known far and wide as the guru of pari-mutuel. To Texas staff, Sammy became the go-to person for just about every racing issue. Sammy's knowledge and opinions were seldom questioned, especially by those who knew him well, and coworkers learned that they had better have their facts and numbers straight before testing his expertise! In 2002, he was promoted to deputy director for pari-mutuels and licensing, and over the subsequent years he also oversaw the Finance and Information Technology departments. At his death, he was serving as deputy director for wagering and finance.

Sammy demonstrated a real passion for life in everything he did. He was an avid fan of the New Orleans Saints, and his love of football and competition extended to his participation in the Sabine River Fantasy Football league, where he was a proud four-time champion. Most importantly, he displayed a deep love for family and a fierce loyalty to friends. He was an amazing son, brother, uncle and friend that will be greatly missed.

A memorial service for Sammy was held at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, November 29, at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Vinton, Louisiana. The Mass was preceded by a Rosary and followed by a reception in the parish hall.

The family suggests that any memorial donations be made to St. Joseph's Catholic Church and designated for Masses in Sammy's name or the building fund. Condolences for Sammy's mother Jackie, brother Eddy or sister Kathy may be sent c/o Kathy Jackson, 5795 Broussard Road, Vinton, Louisiana 70668.

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