In Memoriam


In Memory of

John S. Jacoby

April 8, 2015


The memorial service for John has been set for Saturday, May 2nd. Please join us in honoring and celebrating JJ's rich life and legacy.

Time: 11:30am - 2:30pm (memorial followed by light snacks)
Location: The Rubin Museum of Art
150 W 17th Street @ 7th Avenue
New York City

The Rubin Museum is dedicated to the collection, display, and preservation of the art and cultures of the Himalayas, India and neighboring regions, so we couldn't think of a better place to share our memories of John.

We welcome people to share their reminiscences and stories at the service itself - and if you can remember any good JJ jokes, we'd welcome those too. If interested, please email Maggie at and she will coordinate.

People have asked how they can honor John, and we are asking donations to be made to the Peace Corps Nepal Country Fund in his memory. You can do so by clicking on this link:

When doing so, please note that this is a donation “in memory of” John Jacoby, and also you can check the box that gives consent for Peace Corps to notify us of the donation.

No RSVP necessary, but please share this with anyone you think might want to attend, as we don't have everyone's emails.

We are so grateful for the enormous outreach and support given to us this past week, and know that every email, call, letter and card has provided great comfort.

Carolyn, Sara, & Maggie

It is with the heaviest of hearts that I write to say that our dear John Jacoby passed away yesterday. His wife Carolyn sent an email to "Dearest All" saying...

"John died peacefully at home yesterday surrounded by those he loved the most and who loved him.

When he was 21 and had to find his way to a small Nepali village, it was a two day walk without any map or directions and he found his way. And now as he begins this next journey, we know he'll find his way once again.

All of your letters, emails and phone calls have bolstered us during the past 16 months. Thank you for being his friend and being such an important part of his journey.

We are planning a memorial service, most likely in early May, and details on that and others way to remember and honor John will be forthcoming."

May I add that fewer men have had a mightier heart or a more beautiful soul. May flights of angels take him to his rest.

Cathy Foerch Pavelec


John Jacoby, airport general manager and Peace Corps official from Ridgewood, dies at 66
April 23, 2015, 6:19 PM Last updated: Friday, April 24, 2015, 9:04 AM
By Jay levin
staff writer |
The Record

“I was in an amazing place, this Himalayan kingdom, in a time machine,” John Jacoby said of Nepal, where he spent two years teaching science as a Peace Corps official. “They were using ploughs that were the same technology as when the Buddha walked the Earth.”

The experience stuck with Mr. Jacoby through three decades working for the Port Authority. Upon retiring as general manager of Newark Liberty International Airport in 2011, the Ridgewood resident returned to the Corps — as country director for South Africa. He and his wife, Carolyn, relocated to Pretoria.

The second career lasted just two years. Mr. Jacoby came home in late 2013 to be treated for pancreatic cancer. He died on April 8 at age 66.

Before he took ill, Mr. Jacoby was informed his next posting would be country director in Nepal, said Dick Day, Peace Corps regional director for Africa.

The prospect thrilled Mr. Jacoby. His stint in Nepal — he joined the Corps in 1970 out of Boston University — was transformative. He resided without running water and electricity in a mud house with a thatched roof, in a remote village near the border with India. He taught in the village school. He became fluent in the Nepali language.

“The Peace Corps was a seminal part of who he was,” Carolyn Jacoby said. Mr. Jacoby himself told The Record in 2011 — the 50th anniversary of the Corps — that his experience in Nepal influenced every facet of his life and career.

Mr. Jacoby “embodied the ideals of the Peace Corps and brought great compassion and a real commitment to understanding across cultures,” Day said. “He was an extraordinary leader and manager for one of our most difficult posts in the world.”

Mr. Jacoby oversaw 150 volunteers in South Africa and medical, safety and security operations for the southern Africa region. His Port Authority executive background helped him “breathe new life and vitality into one of our most complex programs,” Day said, adding:

“Airports are like little United Nations now, in how diverse they are, and I remember John telling me about his great joy in interacting with the diverse cultures within Newark Airport.

“The great sadness of his passing is that Nepal was John’s first love. He would have been there by now. He would have come full circle.”

John Jacoby, a Manhattan native, began working for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in 1977 as a management analyst. Following a three-year leave during which he worked for the World Health Organization in Nepal, he held a succession of leadership positions, mostly in aviation and culminating in general manager of Newark and Teterboro airports.

When terrorists blew up a truck bomb beneath the World Trade Center on Feb. 26, 1993, Mr. Jacoby was prevented from evacuating because of the smoke. When terrorists flew jetliners into the Twin Towers the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, and hijacked a Newark flight that crashed in Pennsylvania, Mr. Jacoby, then the No. 2 manager at Newark, was on duty. From the administration building roof, he saw the second plane crash into the South Tower.

“Then they went into this extraordinary mode of shutting down the airport, getting everyone in place, getting everything secure,” Mr. Jacoby’s wife recalled. “No one left that airport. I didn’t see him for three days.”

In the 12 years Mr. Jacoby worked at Newark, the media sought him out for sound bites on the impact of the holiday rush, snowstorms and the like. His advice had a familiar ring. In 2000, when the airport was undergoing a $3.8 billion improvement that included new roads and parking garages, Mr. Jacoby urged travelers to leave for Newark at least a half-hour earlier than they normally would. “Why add to the anxiety by making a last-minute dash to the airport?” he said.

John Jacoby had lived in Ridgewood since 1988 and previously resided in Englewood, where he served on the Board of Education.

Surviving are his wife of 42 years; daughters, Sara Jacoby of Philadelphia and Maggie Jacoby of Manhattan; a brother; and a grandson.

Arrangements were by Direct Cremations. A memorial service is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. May 2 at Manhattan’s Rubin Museum of Art, which showcases the art of the Himalayas, the region that was so dear to Mr. Jacoby.



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