Ed Jackel, 94: Former Georgia Tech assistant basketball coach

Before 24-hour gyms were all the rage and before fitness became a national obsession, Ed Jackel preached a message of healthy living. Even as he aged, he continued to work out and eat right.

“My mother used to say he could get enjoyment out of an apple,” said Roberta Jackel, a daughter who lives in Auburn, Ala. “His workout and fitness routine wasn’t because he had to get some weight off or anything like that, it was just what he believed in.”

Mr. Jackel lived independently until he fell and broke his femur a couple of weeks ago. He was unable to regain his health after the fall, his daughter said.

Edward Jackel, known as Ed or Eddie by all, of Atlanta, died Feb. 16 at Piedmont Hospital. He was 94. His body was cremated and a memorial service will be planned for the Spring, his favorite time of the year, Ms. Jackel said.

New York City was where Mr. Jackel was born and where he met Ethel Taylor who eventually became his wife. Mr. and Mrs. Jackel had been married for 53 years when she died in 1993.

Mr. Jackel served in the Army during World War II as an infantryman. After completing his military service, he went to New York University were he earned undergraduate and graduate degrees. His master’s degree was in physical education and a job brought him, and his family, to Atlanta in 1952. He served as the athletic and camp director for a local community center and in 1955 left to take a job as a referee for the SEC. During his time as an official for the Southeastern Conference, he also worked as an insurance salesman, said Dana Jackel, a son who lives in Kennesaw. Though he worked two jobs, he had a lot of flexibility with his time.

“He worked hard and put three kids through college and law school, and I’m sure that wasn’t easy to do,” he said.

Mr. Jackel left refereeing in 1966 to become an assistant basketball coach at Georgia Tech, under Whack Hyder, until 1971. When he left Tech, he didn’t leave his healthy lifestyle behind. He played competitive handball well into his 70s. Mr. Jackel won a national title in four-wall handball in the '80s. In 1992, at the age of 75, he got to the semifinals of the U.S. Handball Championship, but was defeated by the reigning national champion in the finals.

Also in retirement, Mr. Jackel penned two books: “65 and Going,” a novel published in July, and “Lucky Infantryman,” published in 2007, is an account of his service during World War II.

Mr. Jackel’s children say their father was a trailblazer when it came to fitness and health.

“I think my father was ahead of his time when it came to living a healthy lifestyle,” Ms. Jackel said. “As long as I can remember he exercised. He actually reminded me of Jack LaLanne.”

Mr. Jackel is also survived by another son, Martin Jackel of Vista, Calif.; sister, Rose Lipson of New York; three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

About the Author