Donald E. 'Red Jake Ole' Jacobson
Jacobson, Donald E. "Red" "Jake" "Ole" Donald Edwin Jacobson, recently of Chetek, WI, but earlier of LaCrosse, WI, died peacefully on May 26, 2020. Born on June 27, 1930, he passed away one month before he was to be 90 years old. He is survived by his loving wife of 65 years, Phyllis Jacobson (nee Naslund); six children and spouses, Steven, Sue (Laura), Kathy Porteous (Andy), Dave (Donna), Don (Lloyd), Paul (Diane); five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Growing up as an only child, with a father who travelled a lot, Don developed many life-long friendships in his hometown of LaCrosse, WI. Besides being avid sports fans, he and many of his friends played various sports; baseball in particular. Don even had ambitions of going pro and in the 1940's, had a try-out with the St. Louis Cardinals. Ultimately, he played for regional semi-pro teams in the SW Wisconsin area for several years. During this time and through the Korean War Don also served stateside for 6 years in the WI National Guard until he started focusing mainly on family life and his new career with the Trane Company in LaCrosse. Don met Phyllis on the operating room table when she worked as an OR tech. A short while later, they met each other socially at church, which led to a first date, a 1954 wedding and, eventually, to a 65-year marriage. The two set roots in LaCrosse and began raising a family, giving life to six children by 1962. Don was a family man who was utterly devoted to his beautiful wife, Phyllis ("Lena"). Family life was filled with sports, music, and adventure! Many a summer afternoon was filled with neighborhood games of basketball, softball, baseball, bowling, etc. Don usually pitched and enforced the rules, always revealing his competitive spirit. Don was a league player in many of these sports. As a testament to his life-long love of sports, in his retirement years, Don received medals for both softball and horseshoes while competing in the Senior Olympics held in Canada. He was also heavily involved in community musical activities. He directed children/youth choirs at church, was a long-time member of the local Barbershop chorus and various quartets, and sang at many weddings, funerals and other events. Don was blessed with a beautiful singing voice and enjoyed sharing it with people. Life with Don and Phyllis also included many road trips, near and far. Somehow, the family managed to visit relatives several times each year throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota, and always made the trip to Florida every other year to visit Phyllis' parents. Many memories will live on, as they already have, for decades to come. In 1984, at the age of 53, (immediately following the death of his widowed mother) Don learned that he had been given up for adoption by his birth mother at the time of his birth. The parents he knew, and who were grandparents to Don's children, had adopted him and never told him. This provided Don with a new mission: to find his birth parents. He located his birth father and his loving wife, who still lived in the LaCrosse area, as well as long-lost half-siblings, cousins and other relatives. Don wrote a memoir about this experience and the transformation he felt personally as a result of it. In their retirement years, Don and Phyllis teamed up as "Ole 'n Lena" to perform many many times to adoring crowds at churches, nursing homes and community events around the Midwest, and Arizona, where they spent their winters. They also moved their residence to a lake home in Chetek, WI where they made many more friends. They most recently resided in an assisted living community in Burnsville, MN where Don passed away on May 26. Phyllis misses him dearly, as do his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A private memorial service has been held. In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial to Chetek Lutheran Church, 1419 Second St., P.O. Box 625, Chetek, WI 54728. Don was an extremely friendly and outgoing person, always trusting his instinct that he could find a common connection with anyone. He often approached strangers and struck up conversations and often did, indeed, find such a connection with many people. He was known to tell his grandchildren from time to time, "There are no strangers. Just friends you haven't met yet." Rest in peace, Dear Don.
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