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Father, grown son meet for first time

By Megan Workman

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There are one billion active users on Facebook.

About one month ago, one of those users, Clell Barnette Jackson, got a message from an uncle he didn't know he had.

Tim Jackson, of Birch River in Nicholas County, sent Clell, 37, a message on Facebook after his nephew, Joshua, asked him about a stepbrother he had heard about before but didn't know anything about.

Joshua, 33, is the son of Larry Jackson, of Birch River. Larry is also Clell's father.

Before the Facebook messages and then numerous phone conversations, Larry and Clell had never met before, let alone spoke to each other.

Larry said he had a rocky relationship with Clell's mother, Rose Gregg, who died a month ago. The couple split up before Clell was born.

 "We didn't know how to start looking for Clell and I told them what she was supposed to name him and that's when they found him [on Facebook]," Larry said. "I've often wondered about him, if he was really out there. After I saw some of his pictures on Facebook I knew he was my son. He favors my other son, Josh."

Clell moved from North Carolina to California two years ago to get married.

The father and son met for the first time just after 11:30 p.m. Friday night at Yeager Airport in Charleston.

Clell said before he got off the plane he felt nervous.

Larry said his wife Iva recognized his son before he did.

When he saw his father for the first time ever, the two just stared at each other, Clell said.

"I said, 'Is that really him?' We didn't recognize each other until we were right next to each other," Clell recalled. "First we looked at each other then we hugged and said, 'It's nice to finally meet.'"

Larry said he was happy to see his son.

"He had grown up not knowing if I even existed so I was glad to see him," Larry said.

As a child, Clell said he always wondered what his father would be like.

Clell's maternal grandmother raised him in North Carolina but he said she never said much about his father.

"Knowing all the other kids had a mother and a father, I kinda always wondered what it would be like to have a whole family out there," Clell said. "I always wondered when I was younger what it would be like to have a father."

Clell said he didn't grow up with a very big family so he was surprised that he has a large family in West Virginia excited to meet him.

During the next two weeks and two days that Clell is in the Mountain State, he will get to meet all of his family members, including Larry's seven brothers and sisters, all of his cousins and paternal grandparents.

"He has more family than he'd ever dream of having here. He grew up and didn't know he had any family and that's what's going to be hard for him to comprehend," Larry said. "All the family he still has is down here. I came from a large family and they are all looking forward to meeting him."

Clell can't wait to meet them, either.

"I want to try to meet everybody. I can't wait to meet everyone. It's new and exciting at the same time," Clell said.

Clell -- who turns 38 on Dec. 14 -- said he is going to enjoy his time with his family while he is here but he's happy that he can maintain a relationship with them even after he leaves.

"We will definitely stay in touch and get back together again," Clell said.

Reach Megan Workman at megan.workman@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.


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