(February 3, 1956 – June 20, 2018)
Gary Brian Jacob was born in Winnipeg, Canada, the third child, and first son of his parents, Joy Shibou and Ted Jacob.
His birth brought great joy to the extended family, as he was the first male in his generation capable of carrying on the Jacob name.
Gary’s early formative years were spent in Winnipeg, where he attended and graduated from Ravenscourt. Gary excelled in almost any physical activity he performed. He smiled wryly whenever he recounted the story of being forced to play goalie in a hockey game and admitted freely that he shut his eyes every time the puck approached. During at least one break in his studies, Gary apprenticed as an electrician in Los Angeles, an experience that gave him the confidence and the knowledge to take on almost any do-it-yourself project, which during his life time included building a telescope, a plane, a house, all sorts of machines, and countless renovations. Gary graduated from the University of Manitoba, became a chartered accountant, and took a job with Hobart Industries in Belgium in the early 80s.
Gary (affectionately known as “Gersh” by his immediate family) was as independent as he was adventurous and he had a way of popping in and out of our lives, but seldom forgot a birthday. When he tired of accounting and travelling throughout Europe, he returned to Canada and eventually settled down again in Winnipeg to learn the furrier/tanning business from his cousin Marty Cohn. Gary was not an employee, he was a sole proprietor, and in the early 90s he branched out first to set up a tannery in Greenville, South Carolina, then moved on to Nova Scotia, and eventually ended up in Anchorage, Alaska where he opened up Alpha Fur Dressers (because “A” being the first letter in the alphabet meant that Alpha Fur would likely be listed as the first business in a phone directory).
Gary loved the outdoors, he loved his business, he loved all physical activities, he loved his friends, he loved good food, and he loved life. He skied, swam, fished, jogged, went boating, loved camping, biked, hiked and did yoga. The long cold winter nights led Gary to take up the piano and painting. He became one of the “frozen chosen”, actively participating in many Chabad activities and mitzvot, including the purchase of a torah for the community in memory of his father.
About ten years ago, he met Melanie Duchin at a Passover seder and eventually they were married. Melanie and Gary were able to spend several wonderful years together traveling to Hawaii, Vietnam, Indonesia, Argentina, Chile and Spain. After receiving the unimaginable and grim diagnosis of a glioblastoma two years ago, Gary devoted much of his life to putting his affairs in order for Melanie. He sold his business, renovated and rented out the house, and moved to Los Angeles to be closer to the world class neuro-oncology center that treated him at UCLA.
He was content to hike when he could, and remained the same quiet, unassuming, understated man that he always was. He was a private person, who held his emotions close to his heart. He was courteous and respectful. He retained his intellectual curiosity and dry wit to the bitter end. He said his biggest problem was that like all other recently retired men, he had far too much time on his hands, and he didn’t know how to fill the hours of his days. He was a good listener, not a big talker, and he chose his words with great care and deliberation. One of the last things he said to us was “I want to thank my family for being there for me during this difficult time”.
Special thanks go out to the extraordinary medical team headed by Dr. Tim Cloughesy at UCLA, and to Rabbi Zushi Cunin (Chabad Pacific Palisades), Rabbi Yosef Greenberg (Chabad Anchorage), and Rabbi Mendel Lipskier (Chabad Sherman Oaks) for uplifting all of our hearts with their spiritual guidance and wisdom in Gary’s final weeks and hours. We also want to acknowledge the beautiful memorial that Yhetta Gold hosted for Gary in her home in Winnipeg and the videos that she sent us from that event and thank all the friends and relatives for their notes and thoughts about Gary.
Gary is survived by his wife Melanie; his mother Joy Sures; his step mother Rita Shapera Jacob (who embraced Gary as one of her own); his brothers and sisters (and their spouses) including Lisa Gabay, Jennifer (Reinhard) Volz, Sari (Simon) Dickenson, Ron Sures, Elyanne Sures, Jay Sures, Nolan (Lori) Shapera, Caryn (Paul) Martin and Blair (Lois) Shapera; Melanie’s parents Richard and Irma Duchin; Melanie’s brother Michael and his partner John Perfumo; Gary’s aunt Carla Shibou and aunt and uncle Simmie and Keith Shibou; numerous nieces and nephews, countless cousins, and friends galore.
Gersh was laid to rest on a quiet hillside in the garden of eden section of Eden Memorial Park in Mission Hills, California, surrounded by mountains reminiscent of the majestic Alaskan peaks through which he once roamed.