Bob Jacobsen checks out…

September 8th, 2007


From the Northfield News:
City says goodbye to beloved businessman, Bob Jacobsen

See also Locallygrown and

Bob Jacobsen died this week, it’s such sad news. He will be missed. Bob was my “adoptive” father, mentor, and friend, without a doubt the most supportive and influential person shaping my life. Rollie had called and left a message and we connected later — I’m in the midst of the Chisago Transmission Project hearing, already a melancholy proceeding because it was Mike and Nancy Casper who got me fired up about transmission the first time the Chisago line was applied for. We logged more than a few miles in ‘96-98 going up to help them fight that one — and WIN! Mike died not too long ago, after having suffered from Ahlzheimers for several years. This is a photo of Mike and Nancy on Bridge Square the evening of the “grand closing” of Jacobsen’s store where most of Northfield came together and closed out an era:


To get that call about Bob’s death in a break between witnesses in this Chisago hearing was so appropriate — Bob always encouraged me to stand up and fight for what was right. We often disagreed about politics, but as often, came around from different views to complete agreement. He’s the one of his generation who I’ve spent the most time talking with, and learned much about things like WWII, marketing, and determination.

He “adopted” me not long after I met him while looking for a place to live after law school. I’d been living in Kenyon, and regularly looked down Division and thought I’d like to live there. After I got a good sized settlement on a case, I set out to find a home in “the canyon” of Northfield’s main drag, and started calling around, shots in the dark. A realtor referred me to Bob, and we chatted and I went to visit him and twist his arm more than a little. I did, and he didn’t protest too much. He showed me the apartment that was piled high with the former long-gone renter’s leftovers, and knew it was where I wanted to be, it felt like home. So he grinningly and begrudgingly agreed to get it cleaned out some, I agreed to do some painting, and I moved in. He hated cats and did not allow cats, as Maggie Lee will attest, but as he did with Maggie, he let me and my brown tabby “fish” live in the best rental unit in Northfield with the best view, the best landlord, and the best downstairs neighbors. Later, when the other tenant in the front of the building moved out, he let me rent out the other unit and tear out the wall between the living rooms, opening up a 36 foot living room with seven foot windows and fifteen foot ceilings. It was the brightest most delightful place I’ve ever lived (hell in the heat of August). I wanted to condoize it and stay there forever, but hard as I tried, that I could not convince him to do.

Bob was generous in every way. He opened up the town for me, a conservative with liberal introductions and the inside story, gleefully argued politics and traded lobbying tips, freely offered an awful lot of advice and a broad view of history. We spent a lot of time hashing out city politics, county politics, and state legislative races — Northfield’s in one of the most closely divided and hotly contested districts in the state, a good case against current redistricting schemes, which left District 25B in the shape of a jackass! (click here, squint, and you’ll see…)

In what would be our last visit, I brought Alan for introductions and Bob’s stamp of approval, and they quickly got a little rowdy trading stories of fighting garbage incinerators, Bob, about the one they’d planned for Northfield, and Alan about his in Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and now St. Paul. I didn’t know NSP had tried to pass off a Red Wing styled burner on Northfield, and didn’t know Bob was passionately against garbage burning and how much he promotes and believes in recycling (there’s always a twist that we don’t know about Bob!) Within minutes, those two were grinning and waving their hands in the air as they shared their victories and struggles. Bob was twinkling — he heartily approved and wished us well, and later put it in writing in a touching note. Well, ahem…he also called Alan my “dream dinghy.”

I’m oh so grateful to have been blessed with Bob Jacobsen. I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor — a tireless public watchdog and the most delightful pain in the governmental posterior! He had a full and good life, freely giving and “giving what for” to all who deserved it.

On Monday, it’s back to fighting the Chisago Transmission Project, and I’ll try to give NSP a few jabs in memory of Jake!

5 Responses to “Bob Jacobsen checks out…”

  1. Alan Muller Says:

    Jacobsen was obviously a discerning as well as a kind person…..

  2. Penny Hillemann Says:

    A most enlightening tribute, Carol. Thank you, and my condolences.

  3. Remembering: Bob Jacobsen and Jacobsen’s Department Store - Locally Grown Says:

    […]   Bob was a big fan of the Northfield Historical Society. Left: By All Means Graphics Rob Schanilec’s photo that became the poster (center) for an NHS auction. Right: a photo from Carol Overland’s blog post tribute to Bob. […]

  4. A Tribute « Discolor Online Says:

    […] are plenty of people who also felt moved to remember Bob and his small town, get-to-know-you, activism. Bob was a community builder. He was an example of […]

  5. More Politics « Discolor Online Says:

    […] there anymore. I was SO PROUD of Paul Wellstone(from my high school home town of Northfield whose denizens are featured in many of Paul’s early ads), whose first speech on the floor of the Senate was […]

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