1915 – 2016
Arthur Ludwig Jacobson loved to fly. He landed in Tacoma, Washington, 2 June 1915, and departed 31 December 2016 on Mercer Island, Washington.
He was the first son of German/Norwegian parents, Nellie and Goodwin Jacobson. He survived two brothers, George and Donald.
Aviation was the enthralling activity of his early era. Recounting hearing of Lindberg’s Atlantic crossing in 1927 was one of his many stories. Another was going to the Post Office, at age 15, to register his pilot’s license. That same year, his school glider club built an aircraft towed by a model-T for takeoff.
With friends and brothers in the 1930s, he was active in scouting, hiking, and skiing at Mount Rainier. On long hickory skies, he raced from Paradise to Longmire, without breaking any bones.
After graduating from Stadium High School in 1934, he attended the University of Washington. His infrequent visits home to Tacoma from Seattle were made by mosquito fleet steamers. All expenses and tuition for college were paid by his work at Tacoma mills. Jobs were hard, and hard to get. Flying still beckoned.
After a couple of years of college, the United States Navy allowed prospective pilots to audition. “Jake” jumped at the chance, as flying was better than mill work. His six week performance at Naval Air Station Sandpoint succeeded, followed by commissioning and flight training at Pensacola, Florida. There, he met a local co-ed, Shirley May Emery. But he was busy being the best in his flight class, and anxious to succeed.
Flying PBY, “Catalinas”, was his calling, taking him to the Pacific. In the Philippines, Jake was duty officer on 7 December 1941. Immediately, the world exploded for Lt. Jake and his command. Escaping with his crew and plane was his number one task. Talking about what happened there was not easy in the ensuing years, but it resulted in a Bronze Star and lost friends.
A brief return stateside preceded orders to combat in the Aleutian Islands. There, the winter weather wounded or killed more than the enemy. Jake flew well. He had many bombing raids against enemy occupied Kiska and Attu Islands. In between raids, he often had the job of clearing out others’ personal effects and lockers when they did not return from missions. On one mission, while under fire, his PBY flying boat rescued a reefed U.S. submarine crew. That earned him the Distinguished Flying Cross.
The Navy ordered him stateside following this, his second combat assignment. He became a flight instructor and he used that time to court Shirley. They married in 1944. Then, in 1945, he again flew his squadron to the Philippines, along with many of that great generation.
Further assignments around the country followed the war: California, Virginia, Rhode Island, Florida, and Newfoundland. And with those moves came children: Gary (Marywave Van Deren), Karl (Vicky Stover), and Janet (Brook Nelson). Jake always kept Navy flying and family adventures balanced. This balancing included plenty of car trips, camping, hiking, skiing, and boating. They all moved to Mercer Island in 1963 upon his retirement.
In January 1967, his fIrst mate died. Fortunately, he then married the church pianist, and single mother of four— Robert, Janie, Patty Arambula (Felipe), and Jim (Claire)— Lois Hart Hammerstrom, who was his beloved wife for 50 years. Then began Art’s second, and best, life. With a new house large enough for the four children still at home, the fun and hard work began. All the youth centered activities just doubled, but Art and Lois piloted them with energy.
For over 30 years, a focal point for the family was flying. Art piloted their plane around from Alaska to South America and to aviation mecca-Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Throughout the years Art made sure the youngsters hiked and skied with him. All the children agree, some now elderly, that Art and Lois could write the book on how to achieve low friction step-parenting and a gratifying marriage.