Louise Jackson, 82: Greeted, joked, danced at Waffle House

Louise Jackson was the life of the party every weekend as she greeted and sat customers at the Waffle House in Stockbridge.

Although her official title was hostess, her name tag revealed her true role: Fun Director.

“She loved music, she loved dancing and she loved jokes,” said her daughter, Sam Bringle. “And she loved people and talking, and she got some of all of that working at the Waffle House.”

In 1990, Jackson buried her husband of 37 years, Thomas. Bringle, who was already working at Waffle House on Hudson Bridge Road, was seeking a way to get her mother out of the house.

“Every day, we’d call Mom to come in and we’d find stuff for her to do,” her daughter said. The staff and customers liked Jackson so much, she took a regular job there as a greeter. They all called her Mama Louise but she wasn’t your ordinary greeter.

“She danced with the customers while they were waiting,” Bringle said. “She took hula-hoops and they did that too. She was all about having fun. It was a dream come true for her.”

Jackson’s dream job disappeared in a blink six years ago, when she slipped and fell at home, breaking her arm. She left her Clayton County home to move in with Bringle to recuperate and though she eventually made a full recovery, she never went back to the Waffle House.

A few months ago her health took a dramatic turn and she died Sunday at her daughter’s McDonough home from complications of dementia and cardiac arrest. She was 82.

A funeral for Claudia Louise Jackson is scheduled to be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday at Cannon and Cleveland Funeral Directors, McDonough. Her body will be buried Friday at First Baptist Memorial Park Cemetery, Westminster, S.C., next to her husband. A.S. Turner and Sons Funeral Home and Crematory is in charge of arrangements.

Born in Oklahoma City, Okla., Jackson came to Georgia with her husband and took a job with Zayre. While holding down a job, she also raised three daughters, the oldest coincidentally dying hours before she did on Sunday. A middle daughter died in 1996, Bringle said.

When she left Zayre, she took care of her mother before she died and then did the same for her husband. The consummate caregiver, Bringle knew the Waffle House would be a good fit for her mother.

“Everybody who came in the restaurant knew Mama Louise,” said Richard King, a district manager for Waffle House. “She probably broke in more than a few managers along the way. You know, she let them think they were in charge at the beginning, but they soon understood.”

Carlton Williamson, a senior vice president for Waffle House, said Jackson, “represented what we are all about, in terms of being a family-friendly restaurant.”

If all of the tables were full, Mama Louise would gladly deliver a cup of coffee or a glass of tea to those waiting. If it was a slow day or if she got to work early, she would help in other areas of the store, said Deborah Garrett, who cooks and sells food for the chain.

“Anything she could do to make the store run better, she did,” Garrett said. “And she didn’t mind one bit. That’s what made her so much fun to work with.”

In addition to her daughter, Jackson is survived by a sister, Mae Whiten of Kennesaw; eight grandchildren; and 17 great-grandchildren.

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