Jerry Joe Jacobson – September 13, 2017

After a long illness and surrounded by his loving family, Jerry Joe Jacobson died peacefully on September 13, 2017. He was 74.

He was born on June 27, 1943, in Jacksonville, Illinois, to parents Douglas Lorie Jacobson and Helen Rosella Barr Jacobson. The Jacobson family moved to Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, where Jerry was on the high school wrestling team and played drums in the marching band. Upon graduation, Jerry enlisted in the U.S. Army’s elite 82nd Airborne Division, made more than 50 parachute jumps, became a parachute rigger and rose to the rank of sergeant. He continued his military service with the U.S. Army Reserve, eventually rising to the rank of Captain. Jerry attended Kent State University for two years, and from 1964-68 attended St. Luke’s Hospital in Lancaster, Pa, where he became a board-certified Nurse Anesthetist. Jerry worked at St. Thomas Hospital in Akron and Brentwood Catholic Hospital in Cleveland, and made his home in Cuyahoga Falls. In 1968 he married Judy Marion, and together they had 2 children, Julie Anne and Jefferey Joe. During 1988 Jerry was remarried to Laura Schlabach, and together they have adopted four children: Jay Jonathan, Jesse Joel, Jana Joline and Jennifer Victoria.

As an outgrowth of Jerry’s lifelong railroad hobby, he became involved with the part-time operation of small freight-hauling railroads, and during 1988 purchased 90 miles of little-used railroad line between Brewster and Zanesville to start his own railroad company in the village of Sugarcreek. Jerry acquired an old steam locomotive and some passenger cars, and for 15 years operated popular, summertime, steam-powered tourist trains in Sugarcreek. He acquired additional abandoned railroad properties, and assembled them into his 550-mile Ohio Central Railroad System, bringing back freight railroad service and creating many jobs. Altogether, Jerry’s 10 freight railroads employed 220 people, paid taxes and revitalized local economies everywhere that his tracks went.

In 2008 Jerry sold the Ohio Central and retired from the railroad business. However, he continued his life-long passion for railroading by constructing in Sugarcreek the Age of Steam Roundhouse, a facility that restores and exhibits Jerry’s collection of 19 steam locomotives, dozens of diesel locomotives, railroad cars and other related equipment. Contained in a beautiful, timber-framed, old-style 18-stall brick roundhouse, it is the world’s largest, privately-funded, railroad historical project (www.ageofsteamroundhouse.com).

Jerry served as a member of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA); Ohio Association of Nurse Anesthetists (OANA); Ohio Railroad Tourist Association (ORTA); a life-member of the Akron Railroad Club; and Passenger Car Railroad Alliance. During visits to Central America to help provide medical assistance to poor people, Jerry assisted Doctors Without Borders and the Black Swan organizations. He and his wife, Laura, were members of the Church of the Brethren in Sugarcreek. Jerry and Laura had many philanthropic endeavors, among them the construction of an entire new student dormitory at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia, funding for the establishment of a K-9 unit for the local Sugarcreek Police Department, and providing scholarships to religious schools for students in need of financial assistance.

Jerry was very interested in military history (particularly the Civil War and World War II), all types of industrial equipment, and collecting railroad artifacts and Ohio arrowheads. He enjoyed talking to people, particularly folks whom he had just met, and wanted to know all about them. Jerry related with the no-nonsense American working man, and stood for the now, nearly forgotten, old-fashioned values of hard work, loyalty and patriotism. Jerry loved the company of all dogs, particularly yellow Labrador Retrievers, and through the years named each of his beloved Labs, “Hunter.”

Truly a visionary, entrepreneur, businessman, medical anesthetist, family man, philanthropist and railroad tycoon, Jerry was a friend to many hundreds of folks who were touched by his charm, quick smile and impish humor. A unique and impressionable soul, Jerry Joe Jacobson will be greatly missed by all those who ever met him, especially those many, many people who are referred to as “FOJ”, Friend Of Jerry.

In addition to his parents, Jerry was preceded in death by his brother, Douglas Lorie Jacobson, Jr.

Public Calling Hours organized by Smith-Varns Funeral Home; 115 Andreas Dr. NE; Sugarcreek, OH 44681; Phone: 330/852-2141, will be held at Age of Steam Roundhouse, 215 Smokey Lane Road S.W., Sugarcreek, OH 44681 on Tuesday, September 19, 2017 from 2-6 PM. Private Funeral Services will be held. Memorial donations may be made in Jerry’s name to Olive Branch Ministries, 2063 Leetonia Road, Leetonia, OH 44431; phone number 330/427-0634; or through their website at: www.olivebranchleetonia.com .  To share a memory please the funeral home’s website.

Smith-Varns
330-852-2141
www.smithfuneral.com