Houston has lost an icon in the world of culinary arts, in that Ms. Myrtle Lee Zachary Jackson, founder of the ever-popular Not Jus’ Donuts Bakery in Houston’s historic Third Ward community, passed away on September 29th after a long battle with COVID-19.
Ms. Myrtle was born in Houston on February 16, 1949, to parents Jesse and Dorothy Zachary Sr. She came from a long line of great bakers, with many of those very same recipes that her ancestors used, being passed down to her. Some of those recipes were over 180 years old.
On December 8, 2000, Ms. Myrtle opened the doors to Not Jus’ Donuts Bakery in Third Ward, which she later renamed Ms. Myrtle’s Bakery Shoppe. The family-owned and operated business has been creating custom cakes for nearly 21 years, using skills and techniques passed down from Myrtle’s aunt and grandmother.
The bakery shop has become a staple in Third Ward, as well as a huge hit in the Greater Houston area. Ms. Myrtle prided herself on her family’s old Southern recipes that were passed down to her, which eventually set her apart from other bakeries in the Greater Houston area.
To really know who Ms. Myrtle was, all you have to do is visit their website, where in her own words she shares her passion for baking and love for her rich family history on the site, stating:
“Growing up in Texas, I knew about good cakes and pies long before I could bake. You see, I come from a long line of great bakers and those very same recipes my ancestors used were passed down to me; some of which are over 180 years old.
I was always surrounded by good food and a strong family; growing up, most of us lived on the same street. My grandmother Rosie and Aunt Johnell taught me at an early age how to bake. My father Jesse and mother Dorothy were instrumental in my love for great tasting food because they were great cooks and bakers too. But the truth be told, it was my Aunt Johnell who really taught me the true art of baking. When I think about it, it seemed like she would always have something sweet baking in her oven, which is why I loved hanging out at her home as a child. Aunt Johnell lived across the street, so I was only a hop, skip and a jump away from the sweet aroma of her wonderful desserts. Everything she knew about baking she learned from her grandmother Delia.
Great grandmother Delia was from the Igbo tribe off the Island of Cameroon. She was brought to America as a slave and at some point in time found herself on a plantation in Fayetteville County, Texas. She was a tall dark woman whose task was working in the field. Though she worked the fields by day, in the evenings she cooked for many of the slaves on the plantation. Word got around to the plantation owner about her good cooking and he and his family experienced just how true it was. He demoted the current cook to work the fields and promoted my great grandmother to be the cook and live in the big house. She was their cook for many decades until she retired.
Baking is in my blood because I come from a long line of bakers and cooks. This is what inspired me to open a retail bakery in 2000. My only desire when opening the bakery was to share my natural gift for baking and love for great food with the rest of the world. In Texas we like everything big, bold, and flavorful and yes, a little sweet. Our baked goods are made without preservatives and as always we add a cup of love to everything we bake. When you purchase Ms. Myrtle’s Bakery Shoppe desserts you are not only getting a quality dessert that taste and looks good, you are also getting a piece of my history.”
And that is what Ms. Myrtle has left Houston—a long lasting business that was founded by a history maker who has left their indelible mark on the Greater Houston area.
As a result of Ms. Myrtle’s hard work and efforts, she was recognized on December 8, 2020, by Mayor Sylvester Turner, who proclaimed the day as Not Jus’ Donuts Bakery Day in the City of Houston. In 2014, Ms. Myrtle and her Houston bakery were featured on the show Buddy’s Bakery Rescue (formerly titled Bakery Boss), on the TLC Network.
It is fitting that the bakery will forever be named after the founder and matriarch of the family—Ms. Myrtle’s Bakery Shoppe.
Ms. Myrtle Lee Zachary Jackson leaves to mourn her passing—five children; ten grandchildren; two great grandchildren; her remaining sister; many nieces; nephews; cousins; and family friends. Her daughter, Rosharon Cotton, will continue to operate the bakery.
The family has announced they will close Ms. Myrtle’s Bakery Shoppe for a few weeks to mourn Ms. Myrtle Lee Zachary Jackson’s death but plans to reopen sometime in November.
She will be laid to rest on October 16, 2021, at Holman Street Baptist Church
The Visitation will be held on October 16, 2021, from 9 am to 11 am. The Funeral Service will be held the same day at 11 am, at Holman Street Baptist Church, 3501 Holman St.