In Tribute: Father remembered for musical talent

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

Former bandmates said Jeff Jacobs was the best singer they’d ever known. Family members said he was even better as a father.

The only one who never talked about Jacobs’ talents, it seemed, was Jacobs himself.

The Brooklyn native, who stayed put after arriving in Clovis via the Air Force in the early 1960s, died Feb. 22. He was 82.

Calling him “the best singer I’ve ever worked with,” Bill Case of Clovis said he would be surprised how few people knew about Jacobs’ ability, even at Citizen’s Bank, where he worked for 33 years.

“(One) teller said, ‘I never knew he sang,’” Case said. “Jeff was an extremely quiet person. He never talked much, nothing like me.”

Early on, those around Jacobs knew he had a talent for singing. His sister, Isma Ferguson, said decades before Jeff became the best friend of her husband William, he was a talented church choir singer. The church liked his soprano voice so much he was invited to the choir despite the family not belonging to the church.

“He was always interested in music,” Ferguson said. “He played the drums and he had a beautiful singing voice.”

His voice changed over the years, but his interests never did. Isma said he would always talk about music, math and finances, and he eventually became a certified public accountant.

By that time, Case said the voice now resembled that of Tony Bennett. The two met in 1962, but didn’t work together for another 30 years because Case played rock ‘n’ roll and Jacobs liked big band.

In 1992, Case took over a 14-piece orchestra, and the rest was history.

“I ran into him at a musician thing in town,” Case said. “He came down and rehearsed with me on a Wednesday night, and he never missed a rehearsal for 13 years.”

The music never came at the detriment of his family, stepson Ted Jacobs said.

“He’s the only father I ever knew,” said Ted, of Mount Pleasant, Tenn. “The last time I saw my father was when I was 8 years old. Of course, you have the abandonment issues, and Jeff stepped into play.”

The music now lives on through his family. Jeff Jr. is a music collector. Ted writes country and western music.

“He had a professional voice,” Ted Jacobs said. “He gave up a career pursuing music … to be a small-town CPA and father. If he wanted to be selfish and pursue goals, there’s no telling what he could have done.”

In Tribute is a regular feature. To suggest an honoree, contact CNJ Managing Editor Rick White at 763-6991 or by e-mail: rwhite@cnjonline.com