Franklin Mayor Joe Collins joined the Franklin Noon Day Rotary in honoring lifelong Macon County resident and businessman J.C. Jacobs on Wednesday afternoon for Jacobs’ dedication and service to the Macon County community.
“Part of the vocational service this year is to honor business men and women who have contributed to our town and community while operating their business,” said Bill McGaha, Vocational Service Director for Rotary. “In thinking about the first business person to honor this Rotary year, a number of names came to mind and then I thought of a particular individual who has not only been a successful businessman, but whose philosophy of business and life certainly epitomizes not only the spirit of the Rotary 4 Way Test, but also the values such as a man's word being his bond and a handshake as good as a contract; taking care of your neighbor; and a full day's work for a good day's pay.”
The Rotary Club chose to honor J.C. Jacobs, who has been a member of the Rotary Club since 1947. James Cecil Jacobs is a native son of Macon County, born to Eugene and Bessie Baldwin Jacobs of the Iotla Community on Nov. 15, 1918, and will be celebrating his 94th birthday today. Jacobs is the eldest of seven children.
Jacobs grew up on a farm and in 1934, while still a high school student, he began working at a dry goods store on Main Street. “When he wasn't in school, he worked from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturdays for $1.00 a day,” said McGaha. “J.C. was planning on becoming a dentist so he went to Highlands to work in a drug store in 1939 after graduating high school. The pay was better so he could earn money for school.”
A banker vacationing in Highlands was impressed with Jacobs' work ethic and hired him to work at the Bank of Miami for the unheard of amount of $30 per week. When World War II began, Jacobs returned home to enter the service with his friends from Franklin. He served in the Army Air Corps for four and a half years. While working in Miami, and while serving in the military, Jacobs sent money home to help his family.
Trading in his chance to become a dentist to serve his country, after he returned home, Jacobs went to work for the Bank of Franklin. In 1946, Jacobs opened the first of his businesses and other ventures in Macon County.
Jacobs married Frankie Bumgarner in June 1949. “Frankie had come from her home in Whittier to help her older sister in the Bryant Furniture business and Bryant Funeral Home,” said McGaha. “Frankie met J.C. when he was working at the Bank of Franklin, and I have it on good authority, that she made so many trips to the bank to change a nickle into pennies, just so she could see J.C., that the folks along Main Street called their first born daughter Janet, Penny, when she was born.”
Along with Janet Green Jacobs, J.C. and Frankie have a daughter Nancy Jacobs Parris and a total of seven grandchildren and six greatgrandchildren.
“J.C. has meant many things to many people over the last nine decades, far too many relationships to cite,” said McGaha. “To some he has been a loved family member, to others a mentor, to some a business competitor, to others an employer; to some a church member and a leader, but I can assure you that the title that all can share is that he has always been a friend.”
“To honor J.C. with some memento is like trying to buy a Christmas present for the family member that has everything,” said McGaha. “So, the question becomes, what would they appreciate and it not end up in the next yard sale. Plaques, pictures, certificates and other things just didn't seem to get it.”
To recognize his 65-year membership to the Rotary Club of Franklin, Jacobs was presented a Rotary Pin with the year he joined, 1947, inscribed. Debbie Tallent, the newest Rotarian presented Jacobs with the pin.
With the selfless help of fellow Rotarians, McGaha was able to present Jacobs with the Paul Harris Fellow +3 pin.
On behalf of Franklin, Mayor Collins joined in honoring Jacobs by proclaiming Nov. 14-20, 2012, J.C. Jacobs Week.
Mayor Collins read the proclamation to honor the life and service of Jacobs. “Whereas, J.C. Jacobs was born in the Iotla Valley area on Nov. 15, 1918 and has been a life-long, contributing citizen of our Community; whereas, J.C. Jacobs volunteered for military serves during World War II, serving four and half years in the Army Air Corps in the North African Campaign and the European Theater of Operations;
Whereas, J.C. Jacobs has improved the lives of countless citizens and visitors to Franklin through his establishing and operating a number of high quality businesses including: a five and dime store; The Twins' Shop, established in 1946, People's Department Store, established in 1957, and Designer's Alley, established in 1997;
Whereas, J.C. Jacobs has further contributed to the development of the local area through a number of residential developments including Harrison Garden Apartments, Brookwood Heights, Carriage Court and The Meadows; whereas J.C. Jacobs has always been actively involved in supporting community serving as: President of the Chamber of Commerce; an Alderman on the Town Board; a member of the Macon County School Board; and, as a member of the Rotary Club of Franklin since 1947 and Club President for the 1967-1968 Rotary year;
Whereas J.C. Jacobs has been faithful, active member of First Baptist Church of Franklin since 1954 serving as the Chairman of Deacons and as Sunday School Teacher, Director and Superintendent. Additionally, he served on the General Board of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and as a regional Director of the North Carolina Baptist Men, including leading mission trips to Guatemala and Honduras.”
While Tartan Hall was full of Rotarians, they all stood to their feet to give Jacobs a standing ovation for his work and dedication to Macon County.
After being recognized, Jacobs took to the microphone to thank all those who have supported him over the years. “It is my sincere wish for each of you, that you could live to be 94,” said Jacobs. “It is so wonderful to live in a period where you can live to be almost 100 and be around to see and experience the progress and changes made each year. Franklin and Macon County as has been so so good to me and I am so thankful for that.”