MOORESVILLE, N.C. – Brenda Jackson, a longtime employee at JR Motorsports and mother of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kelley Earnhardt Miller, has died following a battle with cancer. She was 65 years old.
Known for her wit, charisma and unparalleled ability to cut to the heart of any matter, Jackson became an instant favorite to her friends and colleagues at JR Motorsports when she joined the company as an accounting specialist in 2004. Her sarcastic musings and straightforward approach injected a brand of humor at JR Motorsports that became part of its fabric as it grew into a full-time NASCAR racing operation in 2006 and a championship-winning organization in 2014.
While Jackson’s career at JR Motorsports spanned 15 years, her presence in racing covered a lifetime. She was one of two daughters and four children to legendary NASCAR fabricator Robert Gee, a Virginia native who built winning cars for many celebrated racers, including one up-and-comer from Kannapolis, N.C. named Dale Earnhardt.
Brenda Gee and Dale Earnhardt were married in 1972 and had two children – Kelley and Dale Jr. – over the span of their marriage. The couple eventually separated, and the children stayed with their mother as Dale Sr. struggled to get his racing career going.
Following a house fire that left the three with no home, Brenda moved back to Virginia to start over. She re-married in 1985 to Willie Jackson, a firefighter in Norfolk. When Willie retired, they moved back to North Carolina with step-daughter Meredith to work with her children at JR Motorsports.
Along with her passions for gardening, fashion, cooking and home decorating, Brenda was especially devoted to her children and grandchildren. During Earnhardt Jr.’s well-documented battle with concussions, she was a staunch supporter of his decision to retire from full-time racing. She also was a tireless supporter of The Dale Jr. Foundation and other charitable efforts.
“I am a very, very lucky woman, as I get to interact with my kids almost every day,” she said last year. “I’ve got two bright, beautiful kids that I am very proud of. Kelley’s standards are very high. She conducts herself that way and she expects that of everyone else. Dale Jr. just gets bigger and bigger. I am very proud of his accomplishments, but as a mother I am proudest of the way he handles himself with honesty and the way he cares about his family and his friends.”
Jackson is preceded in death by her parents, Hazel May Overton Clark and Robert Edward Gee, and her sister Sandra Gee.
She is survived by her husband of 33 years, William M. Jackson Jr.; her children Dale Earnhardt Jr. (wife Amy), Kelley Earnhardt Miller (husband L.W.), step-daughter Meredith Davis (husband Jonathan); her grandchildren Karsyn Elledge (18), Kennedy Elledge (13), Wyatt Miller (7), Callahan Davis (16), Claudia Davis (13), and Isla Rose Earnhardt (11 months); her brothers Robert Gee (wife Beverly) and Jimmy Gee; and her beloved Pekingese dog, Scully.