The University of Calgary lost one of its own when Dr. Malcolm Jacobs, a professor in the French, Italian and Spanish department, passed away Aug. 28, 2003.
Described by many as smart, devoted to his faith, intelligent and loving, he died due to complications from oral surgery. Jacobs was on sick leave for many years and suffered two strokes, but it did not hamper his spirit, friends attest. He was an accomplished pianist and loved singing acapella. He loved magic and, according to friend Jason Zielsdorf, he had finger guillotines and two full sized guillotines.
During the memorial service at Bethany Chapel Mon., Sept. 8, Mark Simpson, a friend, remembered how Jacobs' faith in Jesus Christ kept him strong.
"He had three doctorals," said Simpson. "The last few years, he couldn't write or speak simple English. He gave up independence for the sake of help. Surely he would have lost hope... but Mac did not allow the spirit to waste away as the body wasted away."
Many e-mails flooded the chapel when Jacobs' death was announced. The e-mails echoed Simpson's sentiment.
"Joy for life and Jesus shone from his soul," wrote one e-mail. "His wisdom, school and personal, he would share with others. Nothing could keep Mac down."
Former student David Chow recalled how Jacobs was his most esoteric yet favourite professor during his university degree. When Chow heard the news, he cried.
Chow remembers his commitment to students and academic standards, and credits his success at the U of C to Jacobs. At Chow's graduation, Jacobs was there with congratulatory cards in hand when his students walked off the stage.
"His students would characterize him as odd but he loved to see us succeed," reminisces Chow, now a pastor in Vancouver. "He was brilliant, and his heart went beside that brilliance. He didn't have an Ivory Tower mentality."
Friend Mark Hawkins thought of Jacobs as odd and funny to look at but intelligent.
"I owed him money and I coul- dn't pay so I worked on his house," told Hawkins to over 300 mourners. "I was painting the walls but I couldn't see the walls [because of Jacobs' possessions]. At first, I took stuff I thought wasn't important [off] but eventually it all went. I took enough stuff to fill a dump truck. One day, he took me aside and said, 'Where's my slurpee cup collection?'"
Family friend James Dean, whose mother, Sandee, shared Jacobs' last moments, said Jacobs passion for loving people was overwhelming.
"It was encouraging to be around him," said Dean. "I would purposefully go see him when I was down. He would lift me up."
Donations in Dr. Malcom Jacobs' memory can be sent to the Saint Christopher's School in Richmond, Virginia. Contact Bethany Chapel at 249-8605 for more details.