Cover photo for Harriet Matthews Jackson's Obituary
Harriet Matthews Jackson Profile Photo

Harriet Matthews Jackson

March 26, 1955 — March 9, 2021

AIKEN, SC – Ms. Harriet Matthews Jackson, the eldest daughter of Benjamin Franklin Matthews II and the late Betty Choate Matthews, died peacefully on March 9, 2021, from COVID-19 related complications.  She was 65 years old.

Harriet was born on March 26, 1955, in Gastonia, NC, and spent happy childhood summers at Camp Merrie-Woode in Sapphire, NC. A graduate of St. Mary’s School in Raleigh, NC, Harriet continued her education at Florida Southern College where she received a bachelor’s degree.  Harriet was a stellar athlete and competed on the college’s water ski team where she was a force.  Harriet ranked in the top five women skiers in the slalom and jumping events.  The team won the national intercollegiate title in 1977. 

As a member of First Presbyterian Church of Aiken, SC, Harriet’s strong faith was a guiding light for her life. She was known for her generosity and love for helping others. Harriet’s passion for community service led to her involvement with the Junior Women’s Club and United Way. As an active board member of United Way of Aiken, Harriet’s work earned her the 2020 Woman of the Year Award.  Not only did she support the Dolly Parton Imagination Library’s delivery of free books to Aiken County preschoolers, she helped by reading to the children. She served on the Board of Directors of The David Belk Cannon Foundation supporting causes from education to people with disabilities. Harriet’s passion for sports extended beyond water skiing into her love of numerous outdoor and water-related activities. She loved canoeing and was certified in CPR and lifesaving. Her summers spent enjoying Camp Merrie-Woode also led to her completion of the Outward Bound program of NC.  

Harriet was blessed with a wonderful personality and sweet nature. She will be remembered for her electric smile and her charismatic sense of humor. She delighted in her story telling and making people laugh. Harriet had a very big heart and loved deeply. She was known for being a rescuer and lover of animals. Her greatest passion was her immense love for her two sons, Peter and Frank. Harriet never met a stranger and was loved and will be missed by her family and many, many friends.

In addition to her mother Betty, she was preceded in death by her son Franklin Matthews Jackson.

Harriet is survived by her father and her son Peter K. Jackson II; brother and sister: Gene Matthews and wife Katherine, Gastonia, NC; Mary Matthews Vaughn and husband Vernon, Gastonia, NC; nephew and nieces: Ben (Melanie) Matthews, Katie (Edward) Darling, and Elizabeth (Duke) Edwards. She is also survived by her beloved life companion, Billy Rangos.

The family wishes to thank the many doctors and nurses who worked tirelessly to care for Harriet during her fight against the Coronavirus.

A private graveside service was held in Gastonia, NC. A celebration of life service is being planned in Aiken and will be announced at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to the United Way of Aiken County, 235 Barnwell Ave NW Aiken, SC 29801 and Hopelands Gardens  P.O. Box 2213 Aiken, SC 29802.

SHELLHOUSE FUNERAL HOME, INC., AIKEN, SC, and McLean Funeral Directors of Gastonia, NC, are serving the family of Ms. Jackson.

Harriet's online guest book may be signed by visiting

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