Robin Elizabeth (Forrest) Jacobson, mother, wife, storyteller, genealogist, historian, media maven, volunteer extraordinaire, world traveler, extrovert, inveterate note-taker, and lover of life, died peacefully at home with her family present on Tuesday evening, August 2, 2022. She succumbed to ovarian cancer, which was diagnosed only 15 months earlier. She was 72.
The family members who love and remember Robin are her husband, Barry, her daughter, Liza (Jonathan) Dyer, stepdaughter, Laurel Jacobson (Scott Wilcox), stepsons Sam (Katy) Jacobson and Ben Jacobson (Christina Malach), granddaughter, Emily Jacobson, step-grandson, Nick Taylor, grandsons, Jack Dyer and Max Jacobson, and brothers, Tony (Debbie) Forrest and Peter (Mary Jo) Forrest.
Born in Wenatchee, Washington, on May 31, 1950, to Robert and Helen Jean (Preston) Forrest, Robin was the eldest of three, with two younger brothers. During her childhood, she lived in Moses Lake, Washington, Sacramento, California, and Spokane, Washington – where she graduated from Marycliff High School, an all-girls Catholic school. She received her bachelor’s degree from The University of Washington, Seattle, majoring in communications. She moved from Seattle to Portland, Oregon in 1979, and with her family to San Juan Island in 1998.
Until her retirement in 2012, Robin’s job history was eclectic: fashion designer, model, copywriter for the Seattle Mariners broadcasts, television producer (for which she won Emmys – regional and as part of a team, she would explain), radio promotions director, gift shop owner, town volunteer coordinator, Master Gardener coordinator, Whale Museum Education Curator, and San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau Communications and Stewardship Manager.
She met her husband on January 21, 1983, at an “ambush” dinner at the home of a mutual friend. Before their meeting, Robin’s friend guaranteed her that Barry would be “the man she would marry.” After three dates, each worse than the previous, both came to their senses and had a memorable Valentine’s Day dinner. From that day forward, they were never apart. Barry thought she was a little crazy to want to marry a guy with shared custody of three small children, but she knew she wasn’t. And for that, he thanked his lucky stars. They were married in Beaverton, Oregon, on February 25, 1984.
Robin knew exactly who she was and had a strong sense of justice. Once, as a teenager, she was fired from a job for refusing to date an internationally famed celebrity. And again, at a radio station, she was fired for what she believed was a capricious and unfair reason. In true Robin fashion, she not only remained in her office, but she returned to work as usual the next day. And neither she nor her boss spoke of the incident again.
Life and people fascinated Robin, and she loved them both. People responded to her, and she had many close friends who resonated with her warmth. She was fiercely loyal to her friends and those she loved. When talking with her, you knew you had 100% of her attention. She was a wordsmith, both on paper and in conversation. Since she was “in PR,” if she thought you’d made a bad decision, you’d know about it in such a polite way.
She loved humor of all kinds – dark, dry, wry, ironic, or bizarre. Oh, and funny cat videos. But she couldn’t tell a joke – often forgetting that one couldn’t lead with the punchline nor leave it out at the end. Despite that, storytelling was one of Robin’s many passions. She loved hearing them and especially telling them. And woe to anyone who interrupted her narrative (“It’s all about the flow!”).
She also loved history, especially that of her adopted beloved San Juan Islands, and became a local historian of some repute. She was often asked to consult on projects by other historians of the islands. And despite a strong disbelief in the supernatural, she loved sharing ghost stories about those who were reputed to haunt the buildings in the San Juans. In fact, on a number of occasions, she led “Ghost Tours” of Friday Harbor, chronicling the spooky tales associated with many town locations.
She was also passionate about genealogy. In fact, she devoted much of her life to chasing down family lineages, including the pioneers of the San Juans, and speaking to groups about genealogy.
Robin’s fascination with genealogy was born when she tried to track down the truth behind one of her family’s legends. (Thankfully, she discovered her ancestor was NOT the famed Confederate general/founder of the original Klu Klux Klan.) But after that, she was hooked and became a voracious researcher – even getting thrown out of the LDS Genealogy Library in Salt Lake City for trying to stay beyond closing.
In addition to all of this, Robin was a collector of jewelry, fashionable clothing, black slacks, dreidels, tchotchkes, greeting cards for every occasion, and things of beauty. She was a fan of Broadway musicals (“Hamilton” – the video, 28 times(!), “Wicked” – live, six times), cats (especially her beloved “Taco”), doing the laundry, her husband’s cooking, and reading obituaries. In fact, she often bought the Sunday newspaper simply to read about the lives of those who had passed. Similarly, she was a haunter of graveyards, traveling to cemeteries all over Europe and North America.
Robin believed that one of her most essential missions was to care about and contribute to others. (“I gave as much as I could of my time, and it wasn’t enough.”) She volunteered with tireless energy in every community in which she lived. Notable service posts include the events committee at the University of Washington, volunteer mediator in Seattle, Pioneer Square organizing committee in Portland, security guard in the beer garden at the Robin Hood Festival in Sherwood, Oregon, President of the San Juan Schools Foundation, President of the San Juan Historical Museum Board of Trustees, head dorm counselor for teens at the Centrum Jazz Workshop and Festival in Port Townsend for almost 20 years, and Jill-of-all-trades for Soroptimist International of Friday Harbor.
Appropriately, the Orca whale she “adopted” through the Whale Museum is Hy’shqa – meaning “Blessing” or “Thank you” in the Samish language.
A celebration of Robin’s life will be planned for the future. At her request, those who would like to make memorial donations should consider The San Juan Historical Museum and Soroptimist International of Friday Harbor. To share memories of Robin please visit: www.evanschapel.com/obituary/robin-jacobson