40 years in politics, but still just ‘Dad’: Lawrence ‘Jake’ Jacobsen, who served Carson Valley and Nevada side of Lake Tahoe, dies at 85
MINDEN – During his 40 years at the Nevada Legislature, Lawrence Jacobsen brokered deals and made things happen from Jean to Jackpot and points in between.
But when he got back to the brick house on Mono Avenue in Minden, he was just “Dad” to his three sons and daughter.
Jacobsen, who died Wednesday at age 85, was remembered by his family as a loving father who instilled the virtue of service in his children at an early age.
“In my opinion, Dad was the greatest man I’ve ever known,” Bruce Jacobsen said of his father. “It had nothing to do with the years in the Legislature. It was the work he did driving that oil truck for 30 years and volunteering in the community.
“He would literally give you the shirt off his back,” he said.
Jacobsen said when he and his brothers Tim and Gary and sister Susie were growing up, their father tried to be sure he was home every weekend to take the boys hunting and shower attention on the daughter he called “Little Miss Muffet.”
“The Legislature? That was politics,” Jacobsen said. “When he got home, he was ‘Dad.'”
Lawrence Jacobsen had been forced out of the Legislature in 2002 through redistricting but continued his busy schedule of meetings and attendance at numerous public functions until he was sidelined a year ago by a serious fall.
As he recovered from his injuries, Jacobsen kept up his attendance at summer concerts in Minden Park and at the town’s July 2 centennial celebration.
The park was about a half block from the Jacobsen home and served as a gathering place for many family events, especially weekend dinners and breakfasts.
In fact, he planned to attend the summer concert on Friday and had enjoyed a family dinner at the park on Sunday.
Betty Jacobsen said her husband spent a restful evening Tuesday.
“He was fine,” she said. “He watched ‘Jeopardy’ and ‘Family Feud’ and went to bed about 9:30 p.m. and slept all night.
“He woke up and asked me for a drink of water around 9 a.m.,” she said. “When I brought it to him, he was gone.”
As soon as they learned of their father’s passing, children and grandchildren started arriving at the family home, followed by friends and neighbors.
“He’s in a much better place now,” Bruce Jacobsen said. “It was hardest to see him the way he was after he fell. That wasn’t my Dad. Now he’s up walking, laughing with all his old buddies.”
Jacobsen’s injuries and recovery kept him close to home, but friends and family continued to stop by.
His grandson Eric Erardy was on hand to make him a smoothie almost every day.
“The kids and grandkids were always here,” Betty Jacobsen said.
As news of the retired senator’s death spread across Nevada, condolence calls began pouring in.
“I got a really nice telephone call from Gov. (Robert) Miller,” she said. “He told me about how he would always find Lawrence’s car with State Senate No. 3 license plate in the governor’s parking spot.”
Jacobsen served under six governors and, as president of the Senate, was acting governor on at least 20 occasions. His legislative seats encompassed much of the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe, from Stateline to Incline Village.
The Republican lawmaker counted Miller and former Gov. Richard Bryan – both Democrats – among his closest friends.
“Richard Bryan was the only governor who ever invited Lawrence and I for dinner,” Betty Jacobsen recalled Wednesday. “We made a lot of good friends.”
She said Sen. Bill Raggio had called from New York to pay his respects to his longtime colleague.
Susie Jackson said she and her brothers and mother took comfort in Lawrence Jacobsen’s strong faith.
“That’s how my family and I are getting through,” she said. “I think the community and the state are better off for knowing him and for having him live here.
“I never heard him swear, yell or talk bad about anyone,” she said. “My dad didn’t have a mean bone in his body. He was just a man of great faith.
“There was not a man who gave more time to his country, state, community or family. It was always in the mode of service. I remember that from the time I was the littlest girl.”
Lawrence Jacobsen, who lied about his age to enlist in the Navy in 1939, was at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
“He was extremely proud of his time in the military,” Betty Jacobsen said.
He devoted much of his energy in the Legislature on veterans’ affairs.
Bruce Jacobsen recalled a conversation his father had with an acquaintance at the time of the Gulf War.
“They asked him if he would re-enlist if he had the opportunity,” Jacobsen said. “My Dad answered him with two words, ‘You bet.'”
“And he would have,” Betty Jacobsen said.
Jackson said she and her brothers were blessed to have been raised by their parents.
“My Mom has been with my Dad since 1948,” Jackson said. “I used to tell my Dad every day, ‘You’re so lucky to have Mom. She was his faithful companion. She sacrificed many things in her life for my father. She supported him in business and politics, and raised us children. She’s the matriarch. I don’t believe he would have been as successful as he was without my Mom.
“People like my parents are so rare,” Jackson said.
In addition to his wife and children, Jacobsen is survived by his grandchildren Bruce and Matt Jacobsen, Christopher and Eric Erardy, Brian and Timmy Jacobsen and Stacia Ketchum.
“We were lucky to have him as a father,” Gary Jacobsen said. “And we all realized that, too.”
He recalled a time when he was living in Las Vegas and saw a television interview with his father following the death of a colleague.
“He told the TV interviewer the best thing the great Lord gave us was our memory,” Jacobsen said.
“We have a million great memories of our dad and I can’t think of a single bad one.”
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