Lexington businessman-philanthropist Don Jacobs, Sr dies


Donald Lee Jacobs, 81, husband of Catherine “Cathy” Jacobs, died peacefully at his home in Lexington, KY, Wednesday morning, April 15, 2015, with his wife and dog by his side.

Born and raised in Bennettsville, SC, the son of the late Johnny and Bessie Jacobs, he was a longtime leader in the Lexington business and philanthropic community, his legacy is felt throughout central Kentucky.

The middle of five siblings, Don worked alongside his family in their general store, to receiving an honorary doctorate in humanities from the University of Kentucky, the story of his life and career truly embody the American dream.

In 1952 when Jacobs was 18, he was drafted into the U. S. Army along with many of his high school classmates. Following basic training, he applied for and was accepted to the Army’s leadership school in Fort Lee, Virginia, where he graduated second in his class. “This was truly one of the best things that ever happened to me,” he recalled. There he learned that discipline, written policies and procedures, and effective communication, were critical foundation principles for successful training programs. He applied these principals throughout his business career.

After completing his military service, his interest in automobiles led him to join a new car sales force in Nashville, Tennessee. His selling career flourished to the point that he became the leading new car salesman in the U. S. for two years running. His confidence growing, Jacobs applied to General Motors to acquire his own dealership and was offered an Oldsmobile franchise in Lexington.

Along with his automotive dealerships he cofounded the highly successful, Military Installment Loan and Education Services, beneficial to young servicemen throughout the armed services.

In 1970, he moved to Lexington, Kentucky, and founded Don Jacobs Oldsmobile, Inc., well known as “Ol’ Don Jacobs”. As his business grew and succeeded, his community involvement did also. A southern gentleman who took seriously his responsibility to share his success with his community. Don Jacobs was, along with his wife Cathy, one of Lexington’s leading philanthropists. He generously supported the University of KY, establishing the Jacobs Health Education Center at the A. B. Chandler Hospital’s new Pavilion A, UK College of Medicine, the Markey Cancer Center, the Gatton College of Business and Economics, the Lexington Hope Center, established The Don Jacobs Personal Finance, Legal and Civic Responsibilities, and provided decades of critical support to other local charities including Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital.

Determined, dedicated and driven, he was also humble, sensitive to the needs of others and insightful. His unpretentious personality often hid from the casual observer the determination for success he had for any venture or project he pursued. These same characteristics he successfully used with his friends on the golf course, as well as the backgammon and poker table.

An avid golfer, he was a member of the Lexington Country Club and Idle Hour Country Club here and Quail Creek Country Club, Royal Poinciana Golf Club and Country Club of Naples in Naples, FL. He was also a member of the Keeneland Club and the Lexington Kiwanis Club.

Besides his wife, Cathy, he is survived by three children; Lisa Miller, Lexington, Lee Ann Jacobs, Ft. Myers, FL and Donald Lee Jacobs, Jr., Bal Harbour, FL; a sister, Merlin Usher, Wallace, SC; 7 grandchildren, 2 great-grandchildren, 5 nieces, Wanda Usher, Sharon Caston, Kathy Jones, Christy Kollitz and Linda Quick; 3 nephews, Jody, John and Tracy Jacobs. He was preceded in death by a son, Brian Dudley Jacobs.

Services 11 am Sat. at Immanuel Baptist Church with burial in the Lexington Cemetery. Visitation will be at the church from 4-8 pm Fri.
Memorials are suggested to the Hope Center, 360 W. Loudon Ave., Lexington 40508.
Milward-Broadway is in charge of arrangements.

Categories: Local News, News

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