Family, Dozier School survivors pay respects to Daytona Beach teen who died 64 years ago
BY DAYTONA TIMES STAFF
Billy Jackson’s life ended way too soon. He died in 1952 at age 13 while a ward of the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, a small city in North Florida.
While the cause of death was listed as a urinary tract infection, it’s believe he died from a severe beating after trying to escape the reform school. He was sent to the school in August 1952 for repeatedly skipping school.
Johnnie Walthour of Jacksonville, now deceased, reported years ago that he dug a grave for a friend he knew only as Billy, who died after developing a bloated stomach. Walthour said the boy was repeatedly beaten in the White House after trying to run away.
Other former students at the school have reported that they were brutally beaten while there.
Returned to sister
A Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation ensued and Jackson’s remains were identified in unmarked graves found on site. Jackson’s remains were sent this month to his sister, Mattie Jackson, a Daytona Beach resident.
Funeral services were held at R.J. Gainous Funeral Home in Daytona Beach on Saturday with former Dozier school students there, known as the “White House Boys.’’ The men say they endured vicious beatings in a small building at the school called the White House.
Jackson was buried Saturday at Mt. Ararat Cemetery on Bellevue Avenue in Daytona Beach.
A task force is now in the process of deciding on a memorial for the Dozier victims.
Jackson was born on Feb. 18, 1939 in Daytona Beach. He attended Campbell Elementary School.
He is survived by his sister Mattie Jackson of Daytona Beach; two nephews, Shawn Irving of Daytona Beach and Dawn Irving of Orlando; three nieces, Wanda Aaron of Daytona Beach, Wendy Irving of Orlando and Ida Cummings, Washington D.C.
A detailed story on Billy Jackson and the Aug. 13 service appears this week in the Florida Courier, the sister newspaper of the Daytona Times. It can be read online at www.flcourier.com.