My Dad finished his race yesterday. He was my father, my partner, my mentor in the law, my hero in life. He was the last remaining founder of Hardy, Schwartzman, Bahan & Jacobson, PC, which morphed into Hardy & Jacobson, PC, Hardy, Jacobson, Gazda & Jacobson, PC, and finally into The Jacobson Law Firm PC, which it has remained these last 23 years.
Jake Jacobson was a brilliant attorney, steeped in municipal law at the knee of one of Texas’ masters, Harvey L. Hardy, Jr. He had a heart for military veterans, and no wonder: he started his military career as a US Air Force private, before the rank of Airman Basic existed. After reaching E-4 (buck sergeant), he applied for, and was accepted to, the Aviation Cadet Program, receiving a commission as a Second Lieutenant on graduation. He was a “mustang” - an enlisted man who became an officer. He used to say that the medal of which he was most proud was his Good Conduct Medal, because it reminded him that he started as an enlisted troop. Quite a statement, considering his two Distinguished Flying Crosses, five Air Medals, Bronze Star and two Joint Service Commendation Medals. Following graduation, he was commissioned a second lieutenant. He attended Radio Operator school, Navigator Training, and Pilot Training, making him one of very few entitled to wear three sets of Air Force wings.
Dad was a fighter pilot. It was how he defined himself. Even later in life, if you asked him what he did for a living, he would say, “I’m a fighter pilot who practices law.” In his granddaughter Mara’s words, “The sky was his happy place.” That’s true, but he stopped flying when he retired. When I asked him why, he said, “If I can’t fly at least once a week, I’m not safe, and I won’t be unsafe.” For his 80th birthday, my mom arranged for him to fly a P-51 for an hour. He wore his own flight suit. He was in heaven, in his element - in his happy place, in his own skin.
That was his standard, to do everything he did well and fully, to be dependable. He was a man in the mold of every John Wayne character, in the mold of “Lonesome Dove”’s Woodrow Call and Augustus McCrae. He was bigger than life, a man’s man.
He loved his wife, his family, his country and his Lord. He went to Vietnam as a volunteer and it changed him. He suffered PTSD in silence, because that’s what fighter pilots did. We were astonished and grateful when we discovered that, not 2 months before his death, he at long last unburdened himself to one of our pastors, admitting the pain of seeing colleagues, comrades, die. Of frustration that the politicians “wouldn’t let us win and come home”. He grew up believing that military service was a patriotic thing, a duty of all who were able, that love of country was to be honored and cherished and pursued, and he felt betrayed by those in positions of power. Bit it didn’t change his passion. To the end, he was an American warrior.
I joined the Air Force and studied the law largely because of him. To practice law as partners was a privilege for both of us. Through ups and downs, we were loyal to each other, to our profession, to our Lord. My military service took me out of the office for weeks at a time, but he never complained. It was an honor for him to support me in my service. He got it.
Jake Jacobson has “slip’d the surly bonds of earth”. He is home with his Lord, and ours. He will be missed. May all your skies be CAVU, Dad, and I’ll see you there.