SOUTH LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Southland residents mourned the loss of a beloved businessman who made the holiday season a little brighter for countless families.

Family and friends are expected to speak Wednesday morning about Ellsworth Jackson’s death.

Jackson, who was best known as E.J., died Tuesday evening after suffering from what appeared to be a heart attack in his office, according to family members.

Mayor Eric Garcetti released a statement on his passing that reads in part: “E.J. Jackson’s kind and generous spirit was an inspiration. He was a role model to me and everyone in Los Angeles, and his charitable heart gave us a new understanding of the power of giving and the true meaning of community. The annual Thanksgiving giveaway that he founded in South L.A. is legendary. What began as help for a few Angelenos grew to 12,000 strong last year. And he did it because he understood that, in his words, ‘nothing is more comforting than family enjoying a Thanksgiving meal together at home’. The holidays in L.A. won’t be the same without E.J. on the streets at sunrise, making sure everyone’s basket is full. He set a timeless example for us to follow, and we can honor his legacy by building on the tradition he started and committing ourselves every day to making a difference in the lives of our families, friends, and neighbors.”

Jackson, who owned a limousine company, quickly became well-known as the chauffeur to the stars.

The businessman enjoyed his line of work, but also took pleasure in giving back to the community.

For more than 30 years, he handed out Thanksgiving dinners to those who were in need in South Los Angeles.

At this time, it remains unclear if Jackson’s death will effect this year’s turkey drive.

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