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Posted on Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 7:29 p.m.

U-M professor Shaun Jackson dies from burns suffered in plane crash

By Cindy Heflin

Editor's note: This article was updated Wednesday morning with additional information about Jackson's background and family.

William Shaun Jackson, a professor at the University of Michigan School of Art and Design, died Tuesday from burns suffered in a small plane crash last weekend near Sarasota, Fla.

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William Shaun Jackson

Jackson, 63, known to friends, colleagues and family members as Shaun, was considering buying the seaplane and had gone to Florida to look at it and test it out, his business partner said. Jackson, who belonged to the Michigan Flyers flying club, had owned planes in the past and wanted a seaplane to use for trips from Ann Arbor to his cottage in Canada, located near the water, said his business partner, Mark Zadvinskis. “He had been dreaming about this float plane,” he said.

He was a passenger in the plane when it crashed, killing the pilot, John Ardoyno, 70, of Hayward, Wis. Jackson was able to get out of the plane but suffered severe burns. He had been treated at Tampa General Hospital.

Zadvinskis and Jackson have been business partners for 18 years at Shaun Jackson Design and Higher Ground, which makes cases and accessories for laptops and tablets. Zadvinskis, who has been in contact with Jackson’s family, said the past few days have been difficult at the small, close-knit company.

“He’s been our spiritual leader and our sounding board," Zadvinskis said. “He’ll truly be missed by friends and family. “

Jackson was athletic and youthful, Zadvinskis said. He cycled, played hockey and liked skate skiing.

“Even though he was a 63-year-old man he was not really 63,” Zadvinskis said. “He was a very young guy. … You never would have guessed his real age.”

News reports from Florida said Jackson ran from the plane after it hit two trees, crashed and burst into flames on the New College campus near Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport

Former air traffic controller Rich Parker told an ABC affiliate station in Florida Jackson got out of the plane and went to a ditch where he told him to roll around to extinguish the flames. Parker said he couldn’t get the pilot out of the burning plane.

In addition to his position at the School of Art and Design, Jackson also taught at the university’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, and in the Steven M. Ross School of Business.

Jackson was also an inventor, designer and entrepreneur. He founded his first company, Eclipse Inc., while still an undergraduate student at U-M, where he studied architecture, the university said in a release about his death.

Under his leadership, the company grew from a small venture to a multimillion-dollar corporation with a global distribution network. Eclipse was selected as a case study for a National Endowment for the Arts research project titled "The Competitive Edge: The Role of Design in American Business.

His company has done design and product development work for Nike, Herman Miller, L.L. Bean, Eddie Bauer, Brookstone, Harley Davidson, and Patagonia.

He holds more than 50 patents, according to his biography, and is a respected member of the design community, Zadvinskis said, having received several national and international honors.

Jackson is survived by his wife, Catherine Banish-Jackson, sons Taylor and Ryan, and stepdaughters Sydney and Rachel Tuchman.

Gunalan Nadarajan, dean of the School of Art and Design, called Jackson a “model of the interdisciplinary educator, in an email sent to the school’s faculty and staff.

“For more than two decades, Shaun has been a dedicated and beloved member of our community, mentoring generations of designers and sharing his optimism and love of life with all of us,” Nadarajan wrote. “ … The entire university has lost a true friend and citizen.”

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Cindy Heflin is associate news director at Contact her at or 734-623-2572 or follow her on Twitter.


Rod Capps

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 12:17 a.m.

In the early 80's, my first real job was as a machinist at Eclipse. On lunch breaks, Shaun taught me how to play "Alice's Restaurant" on guitar. I recall he was rumored to be able to execute a perfect backflip from standstill. Never saw it, but it wouldn't have surprised me. All our best wishes to his family and loved ones.

Phillip Farber

Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 11:11 p.m.

What sad news. I knew Shaun and his business partner Les Bohm (also recently passed) back in the early 70's. We carried their innovative state-of-the-art Eclipse cycling paniers and handlebar bags at Ann Arbor Cyclery. Two great friends of the cycling community and outstanding human beings both. My deepest condolences to Shaun's family and friends.

Cindy Heflin

Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 9:17 p.m.

I got a call this afternoon from Shaun Jackson's cousin. He said Jackson was a gymnast while a student at the University of Michigan. He also said Jackson loved going back to visit family in Peterborough, Ontario, where he grew up, especially for Thanksgiving Day celebrations.


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 7:58 p.m.

I am saddened by this ending to such an amazing and exciting life.. I have known Shaun since 1970. He shared a warehouse space at Ashley and Ann St with other small companies when I was working there at Eden Foods. I will hold all the memories dear to my heart. He was the most fearless, adventurous person I have ever known. My heart breaks for his family and I will keep them in my thoughts and prayers. May his soul be surrounded by angels and journey a peaceful one. I am so sad.

Kellie Woodhouse

Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 5:55 p.m.

I spoke with Mr. Jackson for a story I wrote about a student who summited Mt. Kilimanjaro with a self-made tent. He had advised and mentored the student, obviously going above and beyond to help him succeed. Mr. Jackson was a pleasure to interview, very interesting and very respectful. I am sure he will be missed. Thanks for this story, Cindy.


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 3:07 p.m.

A tragic end to a wonderful life. We all need to understand that today is all we have and make the best of it, tell those we love how much they mean to us and do the things we want to do now.


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 4:54 a.m.

RIP Shaun


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 4:26 a.m.

Truly sad. My sincere condolences to his family and many friends.


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 3:56 a.m.

The good that a man is and does lives beyond him. Such a man as this. Sincere regrets at the news of his untimely death.


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 3:47 a.m.

I am shocked and saddened by this news, this is a terrible loss. My sincere sympathies to his family and friends. I have known Shaun since we worked together way back when at Eclipse. Shaun always had something nice to say, he was full of energy and ideas. He really cared about the quality of his design and work, and for the people who worked with him. He was an outstanding teacher who influenced many in a variety of disciplines. He was such a sweet guy, my son and I ran into him at Buhr Park Ice Rink a few years ago. My boy had never skated before, Shaun was an epic skater, and he took my sons other hand and the three of us skated around the rink a dozen times to give my son the taste of it. Then he and I got some laps in, it was all I could do to keep up with him, both the skating and the conversation. He will be sorely missed by many.


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 3:22 a.m.

I had the honor of knowing Shaun for many years dating back to the early nineties. Shaun's dynamic personality, keen Canadian sense of humor, set him apart from the ordinary. His modest approach to his many accomplishes made you appreciate him even more. Running into him after all these years this past spring was a true delight, even though for a couple of minutes was telling, all you needed was a couple of minutes to know what a special person. My prayers to his two boys and his family. I will miss you Shaun!


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 1:39 a.m.



Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 1:31 a.m.

My heart goes out to his family.


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 1:14 a.m.

Professor Jackson, As a former student, and product tester for one of your many patents, you will be missed.