Robert Russell Jacobus, 93, formerly of Madison NJ, passed in the night on April 19, 2020 in Norwood Hospital in Massachusetts. Born in East Orange, NJ to parents Russell Thistle and Anne R (Neuffer) Jacobus he grew up alongside his younger brother, Gordon, in Milburn, NJ. Ever the adventurous spirit, he was taught by his father how to be a trapper-hunter at a young age and was once suspended for bringing his collection of skunks’ pelts to school- he apparently couldn’t smell it but the rest of the school could! He spent summers working on a farm in Vermont where he was known to skip lunches to save the family money- nobody who knew Bob later in life would be surprised at either detail as he was well known not only for his “thriftiness,” but also as a gifted gardener with a thumb as green as they come.
Following high school, Bob enlisted in the Marine Corps where he became a 1 st class private and marksman . Although the war ended, releasing him of his duty, his allegiance to his country was clear; Bob always saluted the forces during parades and proudly sported his “Marines” cap throughout his twilight years. With the war over, he enrolled in classes at Michigan State University and worked toward a Forestry degree, after which he purchased a piece of land on Passaic Ave in Florham Park, NJ to start his own business, Green Valley Tree Service . He worked tirelessly as an arborist for decades, converting his business to a Contractors’ Yard that he managed in the 1990’s and up through his reluctant retirement at the old age of 87.
Amidst an often all-consuming work ethic, he met, married and eventually divorced, the mother of his 3 children, Marilyn Jeanne. Bob was an eccentric man and when it was clear that he was destined to continue on as a bachelor, he embraced the solitary life, even living in a slide-in Camper for years so that he could travel with his home on his back during the off-season of his business. He made pilgrimages to Alaska to fish for salmon and shared his passion for travelling with his daughter, taking trips to the Caribbean to scuba dive, snorkel and spearfish. He grew every kind of fruit tree you can imagine. He enjoyed his daily 6 am chats with his tenants at the yard, many of whom he came to treat as family.
When his children started families of their own, Bob embraced the role of Grandfather. Whether it was taking his grandkids for hikes in the woods or rides in the bucket of the bulldozer, playing Uno or singing songs with “questionable” lyrics, Bob greatly enjoyed his grandchildren. And as grandchildren turned into great-grandchildren it became clear that Bob was one of the lucky few who was softened, rather than hardened, by time- he cried at sad (and happy) movies, fed (and rescued when he could catch them) stray cats and laughed often. In his own words, Bob was “a rare bird”- to those who knew and loved him he was truly one of a kind. His positive spirit, willingness to sing out-of-tune for a smile and ability to turn the sour lemons life sometimes dealt into lemonade will be greatly missed.
He is survived by his three children, Robert Russell, Kimberly and Lisa; 7 Grandchildren: Linda Lea, Clifford and Russell; Douglas and Jodi; Sarah and Rachael; and 10 Great-Grandchildren. A celebration of life will be held at a later date in Florham Park, NJ.
If anyone has any “Bob stories” to share for his legacy book, please email firstname.lastname@example.org- his family would love to hear them.
In Lieu of Flowers, donations in memory of Bob can be made to St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center, 575 Woodland Ave., Madison NJ.