Bob Jackson and sons dedicated to scouting and civil service
By Kyle LoJacono
LUTZ — Few people are more connected to Lutz than Bob Jackson, who made scouting and law enforcement family traditions.
“I have lived all my life right here,” Jackson said. “I’m third generation on this land.”
Clyde Beagles, a former Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputy and Lutz volunteer firefighter, originally bought the land to build a home and orange grove. Jackson’s mother, Elsie Cooper, who was Beagles’ stepdaughter, inherited the land. Cooper married Jackson’s father, Bob Sr., and the family was raised there.
Jackson, 62, attended the Old Lutz School and Chamberlain High. In between, he was in the first class at Buchanan Middle. Back then, Lutz had two traffic lights: one at US 41 where N. Nebraska and N. Florida avenues meet, the other a flashing yellow at US 41 and Lutz-Lake Fern Road.
Jackson was not only raised in Lutz, but he spent nearly half his life in Boy Scouts of America Troop 12, one of the oldest organizations in Lutz. Troop 12 was founded in 1933, and Jackson joined in 1958.
“I just loved everything about scouting,” Jackson said. “Getting Eagle was never a goal. I just liked scouting and earned the rank as a result. Scouting is a great program. It helps kids become more independent and be more socially adjusted throughout life.”
Jackson was the Senior Patrol Leader, highest leadership position for a scout. He earned his Eagle Award in 1962 at age 15, something most scouts do not achieve until around 17.
Jackson stayed active in the troop until he turned 18 in 1965. Boys can only be scouts until that age and must become adult leaders to stay active in BSA.
Jackson left the troop to pursue a career as a deputy with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. He worked as a detective before spending his last 15 years as the chief firearms instructor and range master. He retired as a sergeant in 2003 after working for 34 years.
During his time in law enforcement, he married Robin and had two sons, Ryan and Reid. Jackson returned to Troop 12 when Ryan, his oldest son, graduated from Cub Scouts and joined the troop in 1994. Reid followed a few years later.
“It told them they had to choose between Scouts and Little League because I knew they wouldn’t have time for both,” Jackson said. “I didn’t tell them they had to choose scouting, but I reminded them scouting is year-round and Little League is only part of the year. I think they made a good choice.”
Both boys followed in their father’s footsteps and became Eagle Scouts. The BSA Handbook says less than two percent of boys who participate in scouting earn that rank, and the Jacksons have three.
“I was much more proud of them earning their Eagles than I was of mine,” Jackson said. “I know how much time it takes to earn just one merit badge, much less all 21 you need for Eagle. I was very proud of both of them when they reached the rank.”
Jackson was an assistant scout master and merit badge councilor for the rifle, shotgun, communications and citizenship of the community, nation and world badges during his sons’ time in the troop. He also helped numerous boys from Lutz, Land O’ Lakes and the surrounding areas with their paths in scouting.
Jackson is chairman of the Board of Directors for Troop 12, which owns the land the troop’s building is on. BSA rules prohibit troops from owning land, so adults like Jackson formed a nonprofit organization that is separate from the troop.
“Bob is a no-nonsense kind of person,” said Don Genovese, former scout master of Troop 12. “But he is still very personable and really just a straight-up and respectable man, and a great role model.”
Ryan, 25, not only followed his father into scouting, but also into law enforcement.
“He actually discouraged me going to the police academy,” Ryan said. “He was never the kind of person that talked about his job.
“At the academy, everyone knew my dad, and I started to hear stories about him that I hadn’t heard before. I wouldn’t say I have more respect for him now, but I realize just what he has done for us and for the county.”
Ryan recently graduated from the academy and is waiting to be hired. He said he went into law enforcement because of what his father and scouting taught him about civil service.
“Law enforcement workers have some of the highest rates of divorce and family problems, but he never brought his work problems home,” Ryan said.
“I am very proud to be his son and of being from this community. Not many can say they are in the same profession as their father and, hopefully, I will be able to protect this community like he did.”