Popular North Beach Sketch Artist Dies After Brutal, Unprovoked Attack

Popular North Beach Sketch Artist Dies After Brutal, Unprovoked Attack
Photo: Nathan Falstreau
By Geri Koeppel - Published on December 15, 2015.

Stuart Jackson, a well-known and admired North Beach resident, died on Sunday from injuries he sustained during a brutal unprovoked attack near Market and Van Ness on December 5th. 

Jackson, 74, known as "Stu," was a regular at North Beach haunts like Caffe Trieste, Stella Pastry and Vesuvio. A talented sketch artist, he often drew portraits of other patrons without their knowledge and then offered them for sale to the unwitting models, generally to their delight. A few readers contacted us over the past few days to tell us about the assault, asking for more details.

This morning, we were finally able to reach Stuart's brother, Bob Jackson of Lafayette. He said his brother left his room at Il Triangolo Hotel (524 Columbus Ave.) around 10am on December 5th, and was walking to a street fair when he was attacked. 

“He was down near the corner of Van Ness and Market Street, and supposedly this perpetrator got up off of a bus stop bench and walked over and hit him in the side of the head,” Bob said. “He was hit so hard that it crushed his skull, and some of the bone penetrated into his brain. So they had to open his skull up to get that out.” When he fell, he hit the other side of his skull on the concrete as well.

SFPD Homicide Sgt. Kyra Delaney confirmed that the attack was unprovoked, adding that the call came in around 2pm December 5th. “[The unprovoked attack is] very rare and troubling; it doesn’t make sense,” she said. “This is not taken lightly at all by the police department. We’re doing everything we can to figure out who did this.”

Stu was taken from the scene to San Francisco General Hospital and placed on life support. This past Saturday, Bob said staff told him “they thought it was time to remove the heart and lung machine that was keeping him going ... he died shortly after that.”

Bob said Stu could capture not only a person’s likeness, but the essence of their personality in a sketch. As an artist, he was mostly self-taught, but did take classes later in life. He'd also previously worked chartering boats for scuba-diving trips to the Channel Islands; he even chartered a boat in Fiji, which Bob and his son went on.

Stu is survived by Bob and another brother, Doug, of Auburn. Bob plans to have Stu’s body cremated and his ashes placed at a family cemetery. He hasn’t made plans yet for a memorial service. “I’d like to talk to some of his friends in North Beach and have a little get-together informally at Caffe Trieste or some other place there that would be convenient for them," he said. "That’s where his life has generally been in the last 15 years. He spent most of his time there.”

Thanks to Bram P. for the original tip.