Hurricane Katrina survivor Hardy Jackson's final farewell - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Hurricane Katrina survivor Hardy Jackson's final farewell

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Hardy Jackson in 2005 Hardy Jackson in 2005
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ATLANTA (CBS46) -

A man most recognized for the loss of his wife during hurricane Katrina passed away over the weekend after a year-long battle with lung cancer.

Hardy Jackson captured the nation's attention when he approached reporter Jennifer Mayerle on the streets of Biloxi, MS and told her how he had just lost his wife to the storm surge.

The heartache Jackson experienced, and his determination to keep a promise to his wife was felt across the country, including in Atlanta, which Jackson called home for the past seven years.

Jackson loved his family. He prided himself on being a good husband and a good dad. Life was difficult for Jackson, but his commitment to his family never wavered, even during the toughest of times.

"We we were up on the roof, all the way in the roof. And the water came in, and the house just opened up. Divided," Jackson said to Mayerle on Aug. 29, 2005. 

The despair was etched on Jackson's face as he spoke, the anguish apparent in his voice.

"You can't find your wife?" Mayerle asked.

"No, she told me. I tried. I held her hand tight as I could. And she told me, 'You can't hold me.' She said, 'take care of the kids. And the grandkids.'"

And with that, the love of his life, and partner for more than 20 years, Tonette, was gone, and the promise he made now had to be kept.

It's a promise Jackson kept as the family moved to Palmetto, GA to live in a house bought for them by musician Frankie Beverly. It's a promise Jackson kept as they struggled to make ends meet.

Jackson lost his oldest daughter Mary to cancer two years ago. And Jackson continued to raise her two sons, Chris and Deion. Jackson had vowed to keep his promise until his dying day.

Diagnosed with stage four lung cancer last May, Jackson still found comfort in his commitment to his family.

"I say if I go now, at least I did do something right because I ain't give up. I ain't give up," Jackson said in October 2012.

Jackson often shared with Mayerle what he wanted for his kids and grandkids: a better life, a life without struggle, a life without pain. It's what he always strived to give them.

"I just want to see them with a smile on their face you know," Jackson said in Oct. 2012.

At the end, Jackson knew he made good on that promise to his wife, to take care of the kids and the grandkids.

Hardy Jackson, 1952-2013.

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