STAFF SPOTLIGHT! An Artist on the East Side: Kathy Jackson


Photo by Ilana Budenosky ’17

Photo by Ilana Budenosky '17
Photo by Ilana Budenosky ’17

Kathy Jackson, the lovely face at the East station, joined Cafe Mac about 14 years ago, after working as a nurse assistant in her previous career.

“I just love to serve and help people!” she explained as she sipped hot coffee and unwound after her busy day at work. The joy Kathy gains from serving folks reaches outside of Café Mac and can be seen in her love for catering and throwing parties. She recalled a party she organized for the 50th anniversary of the women’s organization at her church, where she invited the Mayor of St. Paul (then George Latimer) to come hand out awards and gifts to the women. And he came! That was not the last time Kathy initiated a collaboration across groups of people, as she also got the Macalester a cappella group Scotch Tape to perform at the worker Christmas party.

A singer herself, Kathy has been a member of her church choir for more than twenty years. When considering what type of music is her favorite, the genres were varied: classical, but also sacred music, jazz and rock.

“I always love rock and roll. I saw the Rolling Stones twice. I think I lost the sense of hearing in my ear from that,” she joked while pointing to her right ear. Her answer to the infamous Beatles vs Stones question was obvious: “The Beatles are more like three-quarters time sweet, love music. But when I hear ‘I Can’t Get No Satisfaction,’ I just melt.”

She once wanted to go to a Metallica concert, but decided against it to not influence her children: four boys very close together, now age 39 through 42. When asked about raising four boys of similar ages, she sighed, laughed and said, “It’s hard to describe.”

Though now we may think of Kathy as our trusty stir-fry server, she once considered going to art school. She considers Monet an inspiration and counts him one of her favorite artists. Years ago, one of her paintings was part of the Highland Park Arts Festival. She is always so impressed when she sees student work and plans to come to the student show that is about to open. She loves to sketch and paint, and seemed very interested in attending the student and community drawing co-op that Macalester hosts. The intersection of Snelling and Randolph intrigues her because of the history of that area of St. Paul. She hopes to do a sketch of this crossing. As a St. Paul native, Kathy is quite familiar with the rich history of this city, and it inspires her life and artistic ideas. According to her landlord, she now lives in the apartment that Charles Schulz once lived in.

Being a Macalester Scot through and through, bagpipes seem to follow her wherever she goes. At her son’s wedding in Florida, there was a bagpipe player in full regalia.

“They just take my heart out when I hear ’em,” Kathy remarked on bagpipes, “I love ’em.”

Kathy’s love for the sounds of Macalester is no different than her love for her students, as she is always cognizant of what is going on around her and notices how we, as students, feel. As Kathy was finishing her coffee, I asked her what a perfect day would be like for her. Her answer was simple: sitting down to read the paper or a book and then going for a walk. In reality, her free time is not as free, what with choir and visiting friends or attending a Minnesota Wild game, which she had planned for later that evening. As we ended our conversation, I asked Kathy if there was anything else she wanted Macalester students to know. She thought for a moment and, never one to hold back a helpful tip, shared this: “If you have to cut a big cake, always use dental floss.”

Without a doubt, the Macalester community appreciates Kathy’s kindness. In the mean time, they can expect to see her on the east side.