Richard W. Jackson completed a graduate degree in architecture in 1943 from the University of California, Berkeley. Early on, he worked for the building department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, then went into longtime private practice designing LDS meetinghouses in Utah, among other projects. He returned to the Church Building Department late in his career. After retiring in 1985, he followed his interests in historical LDS architecture and compiled his research into Places of Worship: 150 Years of Latter-day Saint Architecture, published in 2003 by the Religious Studies Center at Brigham Young University.
He married Hazel Phillips in 1942, and they had six children. He died on April 16, 2010 at the age of 94.