Gabriel H.L. Jacobs


Gabriel Jacobs, educator, author, artist, sailor and enthusiastic life-long learner, died at his home on Shaw Island on July 25th, 2022. He is survived by his wife, Deborah, four children from his first marriage- Jonathan, Seth, Jennifer Lehmann and Susan Churchill, as well as six grandchildren. Jessica Alexander was a cherished niece. These people influenced by Gabriel have grown up to be nurses, farmers, teachers, musicians and computer wizards.

Gabriel was born in Brooklyn, New York, where in his parents’ bathtub, he began his life-long love affair with boats. His father, Arthur, taught him the basics of photography and composition. His mother, Ruth, introduced him to techniques for leading a charmed life.

Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont, encouraged Gabriel to consider the possibility of becoming a teacher. His graduate work in education was done at Harvard and Heed.

After a distinguished career as a teacher, principal, author of a pioneering book about journal writing for children and educators, When Children Think (1970) and starting the first French Immersion program in the country at Four Corners Elementary School, in Montgomery County, Maryland, Gabriel settled on Shaw Island, Washington in his retirement.

Sailing, rowing, water color painting, photography, volunteering in the Shaw library, teaching small groups of islanders conversational French, participating in the French Conversation group on San Juan Island, writing novels and letters to the editor were some of the satisfactions he delighted in.

For several years he spent months at a time on a houseboat on the canals of France painting small churches and landscapes and sharing tremendous amounts of good will with the friends he made there.

Gabriel loved the sound of air bubbles mixing with the water as his sail boat moved through the water, Handel’s Messiah, all things Bach and the dreadful noise of his Burmese cat’s meow. Gabriel spoke to those he loved best in a mixture of English, French and Yiddish. Gabriel’s vibrancy made the world more dazzling.

If you wish to honor Gabriel’s memory, please make a donation to Hospice Northwest. Their assistance was of enormous help during Gabriel’s final illness.