Charles H. Jacobs, a longtime Kenyon employee and member of the College community, died early Sunday morning, October 8, 2017, following a long illness. He was 75.
A native of Gambier, where he was born on March 24, 1942, Charlie attended elementary school in Gambier and high school at St. Vincent de Paul in Mount Vernon. He went on to serve in the U.S. Navy, from which he was honorably discharged in 1960.
Charlie joined Kenyon as a member of the grounds crew in 1973 but soon moved into the role of coordinator of health, safety and residence facilities in the Office of Residential Life. He quickly became a favorite of fellow employees and students alike, winning plaudits for his energy, preparedness, attention to detail, sense of humor and caring nature.
Donald J. Omahan ’70, who served the College as director of student housing and later as dean of students, remembers Charlie as “a dear colleague and friend. He and I began our relationship in 1973, when he became a staff member of what was then called the Student Housing Office. I had been searching for a smart, knowledgeable, hardworking, caring person to work as the ‘go-to’ person for the many residential life matters that arose daily between our office, all areas of the maintenance department, and students. That man was Charlie Jacobs.
“Charlie got along well with everyone, but most importantly he had great relationships with students. When they came into our office, they were often looking for him. They knew he would lend an understanding ear — and he would go out of his way to assist them with whatever maintenance or housing concern was on their minds. Students also knew that Charlie would give them a fair shake, even when telling them that they shouldn’t really have five appliances plugged into one wall socket or that their two-story loft built with found lumber was probably not a good idea. There was a clear relationship of mutual respect between Kenyon students and Charlie, who worked tirelessly to make the residential experience a rich part of each student’s time at the College.”
Among those students was Lisa Dowd Schott ’80, managing director of the Philander Chase Conservancy and former executive director of alumni and parent affairs. “Charlie was one of the people from my student days I was happiest to see when I returned to work at Kenyon in 1985. As a student, I got to know him when he made his rounds of the residence halls. He represented the College at its best to the students; he was serious about his work but he took time to get to know us. How fortunate I was to deepen our friendship when I rejoined the community and to get to know his beloved wife, Ada. I will miss his friendship and his great spirit.”
Scott R. Baker ’94, Kenyon’s associate vice president for alumni and parent engagement, met Charlie as a student and again when he took up his duties as College employee. “In my student days, Charlie was a well-known member of the housing office team. He sat in on our Student Council Housing and Grounds Committee meetings each week with great interest in making dormitory life better for students. Whether it was simply a stuck window or something much more involved, Charlie was always there for us.
“It was such a pleasure to return to Gambier years later and have Charlie and Ada as my next-door neighbors. We’d trade stories over the fence and keep tabs on each other’s animals. For Charlie, that included his beloved horses, which he would race nearby, an assortment of cows with colorful personalities and, in recent years, two guinea fowl who sometimes greet me in my driveway in the morning. Charlie, always mindful and kind in things both small and large, converted to solar power a few years ago, which was an impressive undertaking. I simply couldn’t have asked for better neighbors than Charlie and Ada.”
“Charlie was such a part of Kenyon — and Gambier — always in a very quiet way that did not seek attention for himself,” recalled Cheryl L. Steele, a former associate dean of students at the College who now serves as dean of student engagement at Longwood University. “Charlie was wise, also quietly, but you always knew how he felt through his dry, often humorous comments. He was part of the Kenyon family, but his own family was his pride and joy, and time with them his favorite leisure pursuit. That, and occasional trips to Las Vegas to play cards — and he usually paid for his trips with his winnings. Charlie in Las Vegas always seemed out of character, and the first time he told me, I thought he was kidding!”
Many people, both on campus and off, echoed the words of Susan Delozier, executive assistant to the vice president for student affairs and dean of students, who worked with Charlie for many years. “I am entirely sincere when I say that Charlie was and always had been one of my favorite people. The College was very fortunate to have had his dedication to Kenyon’s students and buildings for more than 30 years.”
At the Founders’ Day Convocation in 2016, Charlie was awarded the College’s Middle Path Medal. The citation noted, “He has regularly gone above and beyond the call of duty, not only in attending to his assigned responsibilities but also in such ways as sharing his expertise as a local pioneer in the use of solar energy. . . . Charlie, we are proud to present you with the Middle Path Medal in recognition of all you have done as a good and loyal member of the Kenyon and Gambier communities over the past five decades.”
Charlie, who retired from the College in 2004, had also been recognized by Kenyon’s chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity as an honorary member, by the College with the Distinguished Service Award and by Kenyon’s athletic department with the William A. Long Memorial Award for his unstinting support of the Lords and Ladies. His support for the College included endowing a seat in Bolton Theater and serving as a member of a presidential search committee.
Charlie is survived by his mother, Helen Hall Jacobs Sims; his wife of 55 years, Ada Hawk Jacobs; two daughters, Charlene Jacobs Bland and Patty Jacobs Workman; two sons, Charles R. Jacobs and Dan Jacobs; nine grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; two brothers, George Jacobs and Ronald Jacobs; three sisters, Judy Jacobs Mobberley, Sue Jacobs and Donna Jacobs; two step-siblings, Joan Sims Jones and Joe Sims; and numerous other relatives.
Memorial contributions may be made to St. Vincent de Paul School Scholarship Program, 206 East Chestnut Street, Mount Vernon, Ohio 43050, or to Kenyon College, Office of Development, 105 Chase Avenue, Gambier, Ohio 43022-9623.
Calling hours are scheduled for Friday, October 13, from 5 to 7 p.m. at St. Luke’s Catholic Church in Danville, Ohio. The funeral mass is slated for 10 a.m. on Saturday, October 14, also at St. Luke’s, followed by burial at Oak Grove Cemetery in Gambier. Arrangements have been made through the Fischer Funeral Home in Danville.