Dr. Bertram H. Jacobs
REGION -- Dr. Bertram H. Jacobs, 68, passed away on July 6, 2011 due to leukemia.
Born in Cincinnati, OH on Aug. 24, 1942, Bert was the only son of Robert and Edith (Schwartz) Jacobs. His father worked long hours in the bar and restaurant he owned; his mother, a volunteer and steadfast advocate for children, urged him to focus his energy on education.
A sponge for knowledge, Bert received a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Cincinnati in 1965. He continued his education there, earning a master’s and finally a doctorate in Educational Psychology in 1973.
In 1972, he and his family moved to Maine for an opportunity at the University of Maine at Farmington. He went from an instructor to a tenured faculty member in just five years and served as full professor from 1980 until his leukemia-related death.
In his role as professor, Bert Jacobs stood at the front of the classroom for almost 40 years. But he made an even bigger difference in people’s lives through his role as teacher.
Bert’s legacy is as much in lives he helped to change as in the thousands of students he taught. Whether advocating for a student during a difficult time, helping one navigate the healthcare system, or spending countless hours on the phone counseling someone he cared about, Bert worked tirelessly on behalf of others. Many UMF graduates thank him for their career trajectory, especially for his role in counseling them about graduate school.
As a teacher, Bert aimed to challenge students’ reality. He wasn’t afraid to insult people’s egocentric behavior to help them learn and grow as people. He risked making enemies for their benefit. His lessons were always infused with a dose of humor, whether people knew it or not.
In his role as professor, Bert helped to build the psychology program at UMF. A small department when he arrived, it became one of the most popular majors largely due to his leadership. In the classroom, his candid and sometimes controversial lessons pushed students to look at the world in a new, often uncomfortable way.
Lacking the ability to turn down a request to serve the university he cared deeply about, he acted as chairman of the department for a total of 24 years. Beginning in 2008, Bert served as faculty liaison to the University of Maine Board of Trustees. His advocacy focused on the student-centric approach to teaching that UMF provided.
Bert volunteered at many healthcare organizations including the American Hospital Association, and he was a member and chair of the board of Franklin Memorial Hospital in the 1980s. His experience with hospital administration gave him the knowledge to help countless colleagues, friends, students, and their families gain access to the best medical care available.
As a licensed clinical psychologist, Bert helped many people during times of need. He worked with veterans as a captain in the U.S. Army Reserves and with children during their parents’ divorces as a guardian ad litem. His research focused on victims of sexual abuse and treatment of offenders, and he testified as an expert witness in cases of abuse.
In his younger years, Bert enjoyed playing poker and competitive table tennis. In his quest for knowledge, he studied philosophers from Aristotle to Zeno. He developed a special love for dogs, often opening his home to rescued animals. The rebel in him enjoyed driving fast cars and speeding on motorcycles with loaded pistols (which he never intended to use) strapped to the hip.
One of the courses he developed that affected many lives was Death and Dying, which he taught for more than 30 years. He aimed to help students learn to negotiate these most difficult topics. Perhaps more importantly, his teachings about impermanence helped many people enhance their own lives, which, in turn, defined his own.
He is survived by his devoted wife, Kathleen Deul-Jacobs, with whom he spent the last 20 years; and four children and two grandchildren: Dr. Lou Jacobs, his wife, Ana, and their daughter, Anca; Ruth Jacobs, her husband, Craig Jackson, and their son, Anton; Dr. Max Jacobs and Thomas Deul.
Bert was predeceased by his parents, who, along with his wife, he helped to care for at home for many years prior to their deaths.