Jacob wrote in his bible:

"We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us." -- J.C.
  • 35 years old
  • Born on May 3, 1983 in Moorhead, Minnesota, United States.
  • Passed away on August 4, 2018 in Shaoyang, Hunan, China.

Jacob Daniel Eckstein was a very much loved son, brother and friend and will be missed by all who knew him. He died unexpectedly from sudden cardiac arrest. Jacob  was the son of Nancy Brule and Terry Eckstein, and stepson of Arthur Terry. He resided in Kasson-Mantorville, Minnesota the majority of his life until he went off to college. He often returned to live with his mother and stepfather in Rock Creek, MN during the summers when there were breaks in his schooling and teaching schedule and he enthusiastically breathed the fresh air, stood in the pastures commenting on the beautiful breeze and open spaces, worked with the animals, drove the tractor, built many miles of fencing, and ate us out of house and home! He engaged in life enthusiastically and with great passion and everything he encountered he saw the good in, the reality of life in, and he accepted people for who they were and without judgment. He would always go the extra mile to bless others and gave his possessions away many times over to those he saw with a need (he went through many coats!). He embraced a life of minimalism and often carried all of his possessions in his backpack. Of course, his beloved books were downloaded onto his computer or kindle and were always with him. 

Jacob was a scholar of life and he was fascinated with history, religion, politics and culture and how this all played together in creating social systems within society. Jacob was a talented writer who created satirical cartoons strips about topics such as poverty, gender issues, religion, and the daily struggles of life. He wrote short stories reflecting his deep understanding of human nature -- never judging others but seeking to explain and understand people's behaviors. He accepted people for who they were and where they were at and was always willing to support, help, and encourage. He loved life, all the deep layers of it and sought to understand the complexity and multidimensional aspects of it...he understood that things were never black or white but beautifully messy and intertwined...and his life was a tapestry of colors that meshed to create his beautiful soul.

Jacob had an amazing sense of humor, a sharp wit and sarcastic playfulness that was evident to all who came in contact with him. He loved to argue, debate and discuss the opposite viewpoint regardless of his own personal beliefs -- just to engage with others and challenge their own belief systems. Jake was a constant storyteller, a performer of life -- and he gave life his all. If you were loved by Jake -- he loved you deeply and unconditionally and offered you the joy of who he was. He had a pure heart, generous nature and sensitive spirit; Jacob was unique and a special child of God. He fought for what was right and just and he made many trips to Washington DC to participate in marches and protests - he was truly one-of-a-kind.

He had an overwhelming love and sensitivity for animals and embraced each of them as if it was his own responsibility to cherish them. He cared for each animal he encountered as a special creation from God that was to be treasured and protected and cared for. He loved the dogs he owned over the years, Spikey, Lizzy, Sophie, and Thomas and cared for the goats and their babies on the farm each spring as if they were his own special calling. He would walk for miles outside with the animals, visiting them in the pastures, building impromptu shelters, petting and feeding them and talking to them. He was at home and highly pleased when he could bring comfort and joy to animals and they loved him in return. He was particularly deeply troubled by animal cruelty and homeless animals and he had no patience for anyone who abused or misused an animal. 

Our dear Jacob struggled with alcoholism and while he fought hard to overcome his addiction to alcohol he went through the cycles of on-off again sobriety. He had returned home from China 8 months prior to deal with his struggle with alcoholism and his tendency to try to quit "cold turkey and on his own" was starting to take a toll on his body. Most recently, while living on the farm for six months, he had maintained his sobriety, attending meetings and working hard to develop a plan to handle his addiction when he went back to China; he was so anxious to get back to China and had little patience for the wait. He was emotionally and spiritually in a good place and he felt he was ready to go back. When he returned to China he struggled with the time zone difference and for weeks was unable to sleep, he was unable to stomach the often spicy food and thus began a cycle of no sleeping and no eating and he started to lose weight very fast and grew very weak. As he often did when he couldn't sleep, he began to use alcohol at night as a way to try to get to sleep. Although he continued to teach and fulfill his duties, his physical health was rapidly deteriorating and we were contacted that he needed to come home as the people he worked with were very concerned about his health; a plane ticket had been purchased for him to return to the US on Aug 13th but he would never have the opportunity to use it. From the reports we received about his last two days in China, and as best as we can piece together from messages, after about two weeks he must have begun drinking again. He then fought to regain his sobriety and made the decision to abruptly stop drinking again - and in his weakened state, his body could not handle the physical stress and shock. We talked with him frequently during the last two days of his life and he seemed tired and weak, but happy in what he was doing. He was determined to stay in China and do what he needed to do to quit drinking. On the day he died, he was finished teaching his classes and was laying down and resting in the center, but before he fell asleep he sent us a final audio WeChat message which ended up being his last message to us; we received it about an hour before he died. He sounded good -- he sounded peaceful...he told us "he was working hard, he was tired, he was happy, life was good, Barb (his boss) was amazing, and he loved us..." An hour later he was found unconscious in his classroom and they began CPR on him but he never regained consciousness. He died in China, the country he loved; he died doing what he loved and he died with people who cared deeply about him.

Knowing what happened does not make the loss of our dear son any easier, and with any tragic and senseless death of one so young the doubt and recriminations and "I should have's" crowd the mind when the heart takes a brief pause from breaking...but we take comfort in knowing that he continued to fight hard to overcome his drinking and if his body had survived this last cycle I do believe he would have been successful. It is important to remember that his drinking was not the focus of his life -- it was one aspect of his life that he struggled with to overcome. He remains our precious son and our hearts break at losing him - not hearing his laugh, his sarcastic comments, not seeing his gentleness and love for life -- there is a hole and a void in the lives of all who knew him. But he won at life -- because he lived it and he lived it well and all of us who were touched by him are better for having had the opportunity to love him back.

The times he spent with us were precious and he would get a great sense of irony out of the fact that he now does not have to pay back his student loans...I am sure a four lettered word would accompany that exclamation! He got to spend most of his life in school doing what he loved most - studying! He obtained a BS in English from the University of Nebraska, an MA in Communication Studies from Minnesota State University-Mankato, and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. He was a writer, satirical cartoonist and lifelong educator and had taught at The Penn State University, Bryan-Stratton in Virginia, the University of Maryland, Shaoyang University in China, and had just accepted a permanent position in China teaching at the Shaoyang Delesi Center for English Education. He was a gifted writer and teacher who loved engaging students. He was known for his sharp and humorous wit and intelligence, his love of cultural, political, religious and historical discussions, and his energy and passion for life which he lived with compassion and care for others. 

Jacob and his beloved dog Thomas will be laid underneath a maple tree on the farm he loved. A private memorial service will be held in October when the leaves are golden, the air is cool and fresh and a light breeze is blowing...he will be at rest...

We love you Jake.

Posted by Nancy Brule on 10th October 2018
We just held a memorial service for Jacob on Saturday, October 6th, 2018 at 1:00 pm on the farm in Rock Creek, Minnesota for close family. I have posted the two memorial service videos with pictures and music under the "LIFE" tab and these are labeled Part 1 (his childhood) and Part 2 (his adulthood). Please visit these videos whenever you think of him and want to smile and thank God for his life... We still have yet to spread his ashes and are waiting for a sunny day with the right temperature and a wind blowing across the pastures...a day he would have said was "perfect"...
Posted by Garry Sheen on 1st October 2018
I didn't know Jacob....However, for some reason, I felt the need to leave a message. Words can rarely articulate the sense of what it's like to lose a much-loved individual. I am truly sorry for your loss. The world can ill afford to lose compassionate, empathetic and thoughtful people, who sincerely care about their fellow inhabitants. It seems that Jacob was indeed one of those... I was so happy to hear that he held animals in high regard; a beautiful trait of a beautiful soul. I do hope the celebration of Jacob's life, that you have planned, is a wonderful and inspiring day, that reflects the impact he had on those he loved and cared for. With love.
Posted by Nancy Brule on 10th September 2018
I am passing on a message that I have just recently received which has been very meaningful to me. This message came from his thesis advisor at University of Maryland; I am thankful for the work they are doing trying to track down any of Jake's stories and work during his time in his MFA program. ________________________________________ I'm writing because I just learned the terribly sad news of Jacob's passing. I'm so sorry for your loss. I worked with Jacob on his final thesis project at Maryland and taught him in workshop. He was a very gifted, original writer whose imagination took him to strange and remarkable places in his stories. He was always stretching towards creating something new and surprising and he wasn't afraid to face troubling subject matter in his work. Lindsay Bernal let me know that you would like copies of any of Jacob's stories that we still have. The work I have archived are the stories that became part of this thesis, which Lindsay told me you already have. I'll continue to look through my files and if I find any more of Jacob's writing, I'll be sure to send it on to you. Until reading the memorial page you dedicated to him, I didn't know that Jacob struggled with alcoholism. I lost a friend to that illness a few years ago and so I have a sense of how difficult it can be to successfully recover and how painful it is for friends and family to see someone they love go through that. I hope it might comfort you to know that Jacob had good friends among the other students at Maryland who appreciated and cared about him a great deal. In sympathy, Emily Brandchaft Mitchell
Posted by Nancy Brule on 10th September 2018
I am passing on a message that I have recently received which has been very meaningful to me: ______________________________________ Thank you for being in touch with the MFA Program about Jacob's death. Language fails in the face of a grief like that. I'm so sorry for your loss. I was one of Jacob's professors in the MFA Program and had the pleasure of watching him develop as a writer. One of the things that struck me most about Jacob was his energy for learning and for teaching, and his rigorous engagement with the world. It's a rare quality in a person. I was deeply saddened to hear of his passing. I'm thinking of you and your family, and of Jacob. very best, Maud (Casey) Professor of English Creative Writing, English Department UMD, College Park
Posted by Cecil Blake on 8th September 2018
I was in a state of shock when I read the passing of Jacob. I remember vividly with the rest of the family at Lincoln. He was always nice and courteous. His service to his chosen area of the world to work must have been rewarding and gratifying for him. He left something of which he would always be remembered in China. I pray for the peaceful repose of his soul. I also pray for strength and courage for the family as they deal with this very sad loss.
Posted by Nancy Brule on 7th September 2018
This message meant so much to me I wanted to share it with others... ______________________ Hi Nancy, My name is Blaire and I was a fellow MFA fiction writer with Jacob at UMD. I was actually assigned to him his first year as his buddy/mentor and was the first one to meet him upon his arrival. I just heard of his passing and wanted to send my thoughts and prayers. We lost touch after I moved back to NYC upon my finishing of my MFA, and I am kicking myself for not staying in contact with him. Jacob made a lasting impression on everyone he ever met. We immediately clicked, perhaps because of our similar dark humor, and he was always there for a laugh and a talk. He was truly a good person. He was also extremely funny and always made me laugh. One of my favorite stories with him was his second year of his MFA. He was paired up to mentor another Jacob who he quickly nick-named "Fake-ob" as he was not the real Jacob. Everyone in the program immediately and always referred to this new Jacob as "Fake-ob." We were driving back to his place with some friends to hang out one night when we saw Fake-ob riding his bike. We decided to honk at him to say hello but didn't realize this would scare him so much that he ended up falling off of his bike! The red light changed and we had to move, so Jacob yelled out the window "We love you!" before speeding off. This may not seem that funny in writing, but in person it was hilarious. At UMD, he would always come into my office to say hello and chat. He was one of the hardest workers in our program, the amount of writing he would get done was astounding. And he had a lot of talent. My favorite story of his was based on the farm he grew up on and was truly fantastic. Again, I am so sorry for your loss. Jacob was truly a wonderful person who I will never forget. His talent, intelligence, humor, and kindness was so special and I am glad I got to know him. Blaire
Posted by THERESA HAGGERTY on 6th September 2018
Nancy and family, I can't even begin to imagine what you are going through. This is a wonderful tribute to Jacob. He sounded like a brilliant man with so many amazing accomplishments in his short life. Know that I have been thinking about you Nancy. Theresa Brule- Haggerty
Posted by Samuel Zalanga on 6th September 2018
I am sorry for what happened, given that Jacob departed to another realm at a young age. But what is so inspiring is the story about how he lived his life and what he has accomplished within this short time. Thanks very much to the family for the courage to explain the struggle in his life in addition to his great accomplishments. I pray for God's strength and wisdom as the family process this situation. And for all of us, I pray that we are going to be inspired by the people-oriented and caring ideals that infused Jacob's life. May God bless and strengthen your family.
Posted by Ian Ruge on 30th August 2018
The first time I met Jacob, I remember arriving to his apartment in Lincoln and of course I could already hear his voice before entering the door. I'll never forget Jacob's deep raspy voice. I was always the quiet one in our friendship but that was never a problem. Jacob loved to talk and I loved to listen to him. I thought I knew a lot about the world when I met Jake, and then this freshman who should've been too young to even be in college humbled me with his knowledge and the clarity of his perspective. I honestly don't know if there is another person in my life who had a much of a role in helping me form my view of the world than Jacob and for that I am forever in his debt. His is a powerful soul and I'm lucky to have been able to take in its brilliance for a short time. I feel like I could spend the rest of my life trying to figure out the right phrase to live up to my memories of Jacob and never get it just right. He was truly an individual, one the likes of which I will never meet again. Rest in Peace you amazing bastard!
Posted by Lance Lippert on 28th August 2018
I never met Jacob, but I imagine he was a good person with a big heart and a great smile. I heard several stories about him from his family. Their love was always obvious. I am so very sorry for your loss Nancy, Artie, Jessica, family, and friends. Our world is a bit quieter, but hopefully in time, your hearts will again be able to draw upon your love and good memories of Jacob. Again, my condolences and wishes for peacefulness. All my best. Lance Lippert
Posted by Jay Barnes on 28th August 2018
Our hearts ache for your loss - and our hearts are thankful for the good memories you have of Jacob. What a gifted and remarkable person - so full of life, so full of love for others. As parents, we have felt helpless at times when the children that we love and would give our lives for make choices we wish they did not make. Your love for Jacob is obvious. We pray that God's grace will be present in meaningful ways as your friends surround you. Jay & Barb
Posted by Michelle Page on 28th August 2018
Jacob’s quick wit and humor will be greatly missed by those who knew and loved him. You can be so very proud of everything he accomplished in his life and the joy he brought to lives he touched. Thank you for sharing memories and his humorous videos with me. We are thinking of you and hope those wonderful memories help ease the loss of your precious son. Love - Michelle and Danny
Posted by Sarah Clayton on 28th August 2018
When I saw a random Facebook post with the words “R.I.P. Jacob Eckstein,” I immediately laughed to myself thinking ‘of course, only Jacob would fake his own death, and venture into legend-enigma status like Tupac or Elvis.’ But a quick google search led me to an obit. My second thought was that this was a very elaborate ruse. When I realized it was for real, the world suddenly grew a bit less bright, less comfortable and suddenly life felt more fleeting and more precious. How could the world lose someone so special? So bright? With so much to offer, teach and give? I knew Jacob in passing and high school and again a couple of years after high school when he was on hiatus from school and I was living in Rochester,MN. I don’t know how we reconnected but we spent a lot of time one winter hanging out in my tiny house behind a house. Jacob loved my little dog Walter, and we spent a lot of time talking politics, religion and life. He often shared his writing and drawings in his notebook. I remembered just sitting in stunned silence listening as he connected the dots between historical events, political figures and conspiracy theories. Jacob filled every room with his booming voice, wit and presence, but if you watched him closely, you could see how gentle, kind and generous his spirit was. Without a doubt, he impacted everyone that had the pleasure of knowing him. My sincerest condolences to his family, friends and loved ones.
Posted by Donelle Moormeier on 27th August 2018
To all of Jacob's family - my heart breaks at Jacob's passing. He was such a fine young man and we so enjoyed having him as a student worker in the Communication Studies Department when he was an undergraduate at UNL. May God be with you during this very difficult time.
Posted by Laurel Bunker on 27th August 2018
Nancy, Thinking of you and extending to you and your family all of the prayers and love that I can. My mama's heart aches for you, my Pastor's arms uphold you and my colleague's heart wants to lighten you load to give you time to grieve and wade through the waters of sorrow which are heavy. What a tremendous young man your son was. Blessings to you, Artie and all who love Jacob.
Posted by Rebecca Meyer on 26th August 2018
Jacob really was awesome. He was like a brilliant diamond. He was so talented and he entered a noble profession. He shared his light with others. You must be so proud to have a son of such a calibre. I only really knew Jacob in passing but my thoughts have returned to him when I've watched Shakespeare's plays and met artists whose talent I observe from the side lines gawking and in awe. His abilities aren't what made others love him; it was his compassion and heart. With great sadness my heart goes to you and your family and friends. I feel honoured to know Jacob and that he shared a little of his light with me.
Posted by Nancy Brule on 26th August 2018
This morning Jacob's very dear friend and colleague Zhengyan Guo (Barb) leaves the United States to go back to China; she made the long journey here to bring Jake's body back home. Words can not begin to express the gratitude and love we feel toward this amazing woman and her family for what they did for Jacob both before and after his death. Jake had many friends located in many different parts of the world, but Barb, her husband Ken, and their daughter Crystal held a special spot in Jake's heart and he often called them his "family." He talked about Barb in almost every message he sent, told stories about her, teased her, had the highest admiration and affection for her, and offered her the utmost respect. We all know that having Jacob's heartfelt respect was the highest compliment that Jake could offer anyone - it meant he loved you, trusted you, cherished you and would do anything for you -- regardless of the cost. This tribute is to recognize the wonderful positive impact Barb had on Jacob's life and to recognize the fact she saw his potential and was willing to invest in Jake in what ended up being one of the most rewarding times in his life. By focusing on his giftings, potential, and their future endeavors together at the Delsi Center, Barb offered Jake optimism that all things could be overcome, that his future was bright...Jake died filled with anticipation and hope... This tribute is to recognize Jake's dear friendship with Zhengyan Guo (Barb) -- and to thank her for being there for our dear son supporting and encouraging him while he lived, and comforting and ministering to him when he died. Words of thanks do not express the depth of emotion and thankfulness we feel towards you...
Posted by Mary Brule on 25th August 2018
Jacob's time here was much too short, but clearly, he made every minute of it count. We should all do as well. He will be much missed, but never forgotten. Mary & Allan
Posted by Cindy Jehle on 25th August 2018
Our plan in life never includes the death of a child before us. Jacob died so young with such a promising future ahead of him. This memorial is filled with love and provides such insight to Jacob’s passion for life. I believe he has found comfort and peace with Christ. Terry my thoughts and prayers reach out to you and the family.
Posted by Joe Simmons on 23rd August 2018
I first met Jacob when I was 22 or 23 years old at a house party hosted by Tyler Kreigler. Jacob and I were brothers ever since. I used to frequently go to his apartment in Lincoln at the time; the walls were scattered with maps. We would listen to the hip-hop tracks he was trying to make on his own, mostly about Halliburton and oil politics. His strength however was in his writings; in 2006 I moved to Japan and lived there for 3 years. During this time period I would talk to Jacob for hours on the phone about his writings and his podcasts. He showed an interest in wanting to join the Air Force at the time...this didn't materialize but his desire to travel finally became fulfilled during the last years of his life. While I was in Japan, Jacob sent me numerous full length and short length stories. I have saved all my correspondence with him that I ever received, in both electronic and paper form. Currently I want to work with his family and his estate on publishing 2 of his full length works and any other shorts he may have in a compendium. While in Japan and afterwards, Jacob and I sent numerous correspondence in between ourselves, detailing our battles with alcoholism. I am an alcoholic as well and for a number of years we would compare stories either over the phone or with letters. When I heard of his death I was shocked...but I knew what took his life. I learned of his death on August 8th, 4 days after his died. I wasn't 100% sure how he died until I read this memorial page, but inside I knew the truth. The night of August 8th I went to a bar in Omaha called the Blue Chip Ultra Lounge, where my sister worked. I pounded down a number of shots, and at one point during the night I screamed "For Jacob Eckstein!" in the bar while I downed another shot. Blue Collar types around me wearing dirty landscaping T-shirts covered in dirt and sweat yelled "For Jacob Eckstein!" in the bar with me. My brother who was with me came up to me and asked me, "Who is Jacob Eckstein?" And my response was, "probably one of the greatest writers the world has produced." The night of August 8th, the night I heard of Jacob's passing, was the last night that I have ingested alcohol. For the last 2 weeks I have been sober and have turned away alcohol in all its forms. I want to try and say that the day I heard of Jacob's death is the last day of my life where alcohol will poison me. Only time will tell. Currently, I am in communication with Jacob's brother Aaron; I want to extend a formal invitation to his family to share and compare Jacob's writings so that we can get it all officially published and spread out into the public, in Jacob's name. My name is Joseph William Simmons and I love you Jacob.
Posted by Stripe Gandara on 23rd August 2018
I met Jacob when he was 16 years old; we remained friends for nearly 20 years. I loved him dearly and felt a special connection to him from the moment we sat together in an undergrad communications class at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We had a lot in common and shared similar perspectives on the world-and a shared sense of humor and disdain about who was always in charge. Jacob was family--the kid brother I never had. He was always eager to win my affection while baiting me to debate the politics of something I held dear. He tried so hard to push my buttons, to get a rise, to insult for the sake of showing me that he loved me and understood how foolish his arguments were. I will forever miss that banter and his indelibly boisterous baritone. My heart goes out to you Nancy, Jessica, and Aaron, and to the family members I never met. May you be gentle with yourselves as you go forward without him. The world is less exciting now, less tender, less brilliant. I felt loved and supported and safe and content knowing that Jacob was somewhere doing his thing. May we find comfort in each other, and in knowing that he will be forever with Thomas in the beautiful Minnesota air. Such, deep, deep love to you all. Blessed be your family, and long live the stories that will carry us through.
Posted by Laurel Brooks on 23rd August 2018
I'm so sorry for your loss. This was such a beautifully written tribute. It sounds like he was an incredibly special man in so many ways, with a very loving and thoughtful nature. He obviously lived his life to the fullest and was very loved. My thoughts are with you.
Posted by Tomm And Dee Byrtus on 22nd August 2018
So very sorry to read of Jacob’s passing. It is one of the greatest heartaches in life to lose a child. We remember Jacob as a child and teenager who was so active and full of life. Your family’s ministry touched the lives of many children, teens, as well as adults in Faribault with eternal value. Thank you for your years of service. Our hearts ache for all of you. May the Holy Spirit come alongside and comfort you. You are in our prayers. Much love!
Posted by Cami Reber on 22nd August 2018
I am truly sorry to hear of the passing of your son. The loss of a child is one that there are just never enough words to share for the grief you are feeling. This is a wonderful tribute to your son and it sounds like he enjoyed life, got to experience so much and passed in the place he loved so much. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.
Posted by Brian Peters on 21st August 2018
Jacob was one of the funniest people I have every met. I'm so sorry to hear about his passing. I'll miss him!
Posted by Emily Steil on 21st August 2018
Nancy, this is such a beautiful tribute to your dear son, Jacob! You can be so proud of all that he was and did in his short life. After reading this, I felt like I knew him. He will be greatly missed by your family and all who connected with him. Do find strength in all the beautiful memories you have of Jacob. Love you. Auntie Em. ❤️❤️
Posted by Natasha Sletten on 21st August 2018
It was always interesting to have conversations with Jacob in high school. He always seemed a step ahead of everybody with his wit and his knowledge. A sense of humor he did have, always was making people laugh. Makes me very happy to know that he had done so much in such little time. My heart goes out to his family and friends.
Posted by Rebecca Weis Christianson on 21st August 2018
So very sorry for your loss. I knew Jacob in high school and we had a few classes together. I remember a homecoming project of some sort (don't remember all the details). I remember laughing while working with him. It didn't matter who you were he could always get you to laugh. He was such a gift to all who knew him and will be sorely missed. Thoughts and prayers are with you and all his family and friends.
Posted by Jessica Trygstad on 21st August 2018
Thank you so much for sharing Jacob’s story. Please know of my prayers for your family. Most of my memories of Jacob are from algebra class with Mr. Schulte freshman year at KMHS. It was apparent then that he was an old soul, and it’s comforting to know his zeal to live fully stayed with him. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.
Posted by Kandice Svec on 21st August 2018
What a wonderfully written tribute. I knew Jacob from high school. What always stuck out was his smile, his incredible acting skills and always a person passionate about others. So sad to hear of his passing. May you be strengthened by these memories, embrace his spirit and know he lives in your heart forever. Sending prayers and healing.
Posted by Artie Terry on 21st August 2018
It has taken me a long time to figure out how to write this. Not sure what to say. I‘m still in shock. Still processing. My heart is broken. Though not biologically connected, Jake was my son. Not my STEPSON, but my SON and I have always introduced him to people that way, especially members of my family and close friends from my old neighborhood in Washington, D.C. where he spent time living in the house where I grew up while he attended University of Maryland. Everyone embraced him as “One of Us”. I have always respected his talent, his creativity and his genius. We were together on a panel at an NCA conference once and we entered the room together. He was fidgety, but he wasn’t really nervous. In fact, knowing Jacob, I think he was more annoyed that he had to waste time doing the panel, than anything else. “Relax.” I said, trying to be the supportive veteran scholar. “You’re the smartest person in the room.” What I was really saying was that he was the smartest person I have ever known. And trust me I have hung around some REALLY smart people. Like, literally 'government level' smart. So as I expected, he proceeded to rule the panel with his articulate observations and qualified speculations. People in attendance who didn’t know him were like “Who IS this dude?” It was pretty funny. Jake was not just my son, he and I were “buds”. He became a good friend of mine. We went to movies together, complained about politics together, played video games together...His skill at video gaming, (usually against me) was formidable. Many times he would let me win at Call of Duty. I could tell, because he would try and act surprised when I snuck up on him. But like many poker players he had a “tell”. If he was letting me win, he would act surprised but still talk trash, when he’d get me after. But every once in a while, very infrequently I might add, I would actually be winning on my own, without his help. I always knew when this was happening, because he would squint his eyes and get quiet…REALLY quiet. Totally determined and focused on his “A” game. But win or lose, it was always fun and I will always miss those games. G’bye, Jake. You are greatly loved and deeply missed, my Son.
Posted by Jessamin Burke on 21st August 2018
Sending all my love to your family, Jacob. It was an honor to have known you; you will not be forgotten.
Posted by Courtney Chattin on 21st August 2018
I never got to spend much time with Jacob growing up so far away from him. But when we had family reunions and we would speak he was always so kind, gracious, and winderfully interesting to be around. It saddens me that I now will never get the chance to get to know him more or the adventures he has had in life. He is now in an amazing place free to learn, love, and be at peace. Love Courtney 'LeDoux' Chattin
Posted by Carrie Gess on 20th August 2018
What a determined soul Jacob was! Though I never met him, I still experience the fruits of his labor at The Farm. I see Jacob in the wellbeing of animals that I, too, love. I am grateful for his persistence to pound yet another fence stake, so Artie need not chase down so many horses in the neighborhood. Most of all, I see Jacob in his dear mother and the love they shared. None of these would be the same without his imprint on their lives. Yes, Jake, you are so dearly missed in so very many ways.
Posted by Faye Wendland on 21st August 2018
What a beautifully written tribute to your son, Nancy! He sounds so gifted, compassionate and beyond his years. Thank you for the honesty of his struggle with alcohol. Jesus has welcomed him in to heaven with open arms. He is free at last! We are praying for you and your husband, for Steve and your children. Grieve deeply, but with great Hope....from the One who is the anchor of our souls. Curt & Faye
Posted by Andene O'Neil on 20th August 2018
I knew Jacob in high school. His incredible intellect, wit and talent seemed innate, effortless, and obvious. He seemed to be beyond his actual years. I am so grieved to hear of his untimely death. You have honored him so well in this story; my awe for him has only increased, and so has my sadness. This is not the way it is supposed to be. You have my prayers.
Posted by Cheryl Krusen on 20th August 2018
Nancy, Artie and family, it is such a devastating loss. I embrace and hug you and give you my love. I read through your tribute, and I felt Jacob's soul in your expressions. He is at peace and he is with his Lord. "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Rev.21:4
Posted by Cristobal Krusen on 20th August 2018
Dear Nancy and Artie, I am terribly saddened by your loss. My heart also goes out to his father, Terry, whom I have not met. At such a time as this, we can only draw comfort from the love of the Eternal God and the love of family and friends. My firstborn son, Daniel, was also born in 1983. He struggles with mental illness. Loving him, and helping him as best I can, has taught me a great deal about loving God and helping others. I wish I had met Jacob in person; I'm sure I would have learned a lot from him. May his light continue to shine in the hearts of family and friends, and may we all embrace the hope of the resurrection. I weep with you.
Posted by Tim And Janeen Brule on 20th August 2018
Jacob accomplished so many things in so little time. He touched so many lives and left memories that will be with us all. Thanks for sharing his amazing journeys. You are in our thoughts and prayers and Jacob is the brightest star in the sky watching over you now.
Posted by John Bushman on 20th August 2018
Wow, so much knowledge and wisdom for someone so young, as we get older we can only hope to leave a mighty legacy as Jacob.
Posted by Susan Brule on 20th August 2018
Our hearts break for the breaking hearts of wakeless love and loss. Our steps hesitate in the confusing steps of forward. How do we position our palms or fill the cradle of our arms? Best my children listen to your life... and better us, smile at your 'eye-browed spirit' and the brain that 'wouldn't quit'. You are loved , not forgotten, as you are wise to already know. See you in heaven and through earth.
Posted by Ruben Rivera on 20th August 2018
Oh, Nancy. Reading the memorial of your son, my heart weeps at so catastrophic a loss of one so dear. The more I read about him, the more I wish I knew him as a close friend because he sounds like my kind of guy -- from his passion for justice, his love of animals, sarcastic humor... I pray that God will bind your hearts with all you need to live the rest of this life without Jacob because of all he was and ever will be to you.
Posted by Dawn Braithwaite on 20th August 2018
I so clearly remember the time in the early 2000s when Jacob was earning his Bachelor’s degree at the University of Nebraska. Mom Nancy was earning her PhD in Communication Studies and sister Jessi and brother Aaron were students here too. All ultimately earned their graduate degrees in different places, teaching in various parts of the discipline. Jacob was just as described in these pages—smart, loved to argue, witty, and passionate. These seem to be the qualities that stuck with him and grew. In the Department of Communication Studies at Nebraska we were proud of this family and I loved seeing Jake, Nancy, Jessi, and Aaron together at some conferences. I got together with Nancy, Artie, and Leah Bryant last March and Nancy told me all about what Jacob was doing in China and was so proud of him. The deep love and pride of his family is unaltered—but we mourn a life cut way too short in our human understanding and planning. My heart goes out to his family and many friends. Rest in Perfect Peace, dear Jake. -Dawn O. Braithwaite, Willa Cather Professor and Department Chair, Department of Communication Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Posted by Zhengyan Guo on 21st August 2018
Jacob has a gentlest, kindest, purest and most generous heart. Kids in language training centers here are usually easy to change places for all kinds of reasons, but all Jacob’s students had been waiting for his coming back for 7 months. The most impressive sentence by him he shared with us not long ago was, “Men often speak and say nothing. Women eternally sing, even when silent.” It made every woman in the center happily smile. We love you❤️. We miss you❤️. We will remember you forever and ever.
Posted by Roberta Pogalz on 20th August 2018
May God wrap you in HIS arms and give you strength. Matthew 5:4 “blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” Bob and I are keeping you in our prayers
Posted by Jori Anna Gibson on 20th August 2018
Your love pours through your words, and I am honored to hear his story. Hugs to you both (& to his siblings) as you carry his memory. May his passions fuel you-- as you work with students, learn new things, or tend to the animals. May you always carry him in your hearts. All my love to you and Artie. Xo
Posted by Diane Bouldin on 20th August 2018
Remembering Jacobs huge smile. There was always a spark in eyes, never knew what he was up to. He will truly be missed.
Posted by Allen Carmichael on 20th August 2018
When I first moved to Kasson, Jacob stood out right away as one of the smartest, wittiest, and most knowledgeable people I'd ever met. He was so unique, and was always good for a great conversation/debate. I also remember what a great actor he was, his performance in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' stands out. I'm very sad to learn of his passing, RIP to a true original.
Posted by Betsy Lambert on 20th August 2018
I don’t have much to provide, but remember hanging out here and there in junior high. I remember even at such a young age his wit and intelligence is beyond his years and that he felt things on a different level. I’m grateful to have these fees find memories of him. Love and prayers sent to family and close friends and anyone else who has been affected by this.
Posted by Jennifer Rooker on 20th August 2018
Jacob clearly experienced more in his short life than most people do in their lifetimes. Jacob was a romantic at heart and his enthusiasm, passion, and fearlessness to dream showed us what a life fully lived looks like. Love you Jacob........ Jen and Dale

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