Franklin Countys First News

Dr. Bertram H. Jacobs (1942-2011)

Bert Jacobs

In his role as professor, Bert Jacobs stood at the front of the classroom for almost 40 years. But he made an even bigger difference in people’s lives through his role as teacher.

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Aug. 24, 1942, Bert was the only son of Robert and Edith (Schwartz) Jacobs. His father worked long hours in the bar and restaurant he owned; his mother, a volunteer and steadfast advocate for children, urged him to focus his energy on education.

BOSTON, Mass. - A sponge for knowledge, Bert received a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Cincinnati in 1965. He continued his education there, earning a master’s and finally a doctorate in Educational Psychology in 1973.

In 1972 he and his family moved to Maine for an opportunity at the University of Maine at Farmington. He went from an instructor to a tenured faculty member in just five years and served as full professor from 1980 until his leukemia-related death, July 6, 2011.

Bert’s legacy is as much in lives he helped to change as in the thousands of students he taught. Whether advocating for a student during a difficult time, helping one navigate the healthcare system, or spending countless hours on the phone counseling someone he cared about, Bert worked tirelessly on behalf of others. Many UMF graduates thank him for their career trajectory, especially for his role in counseling them about graduate school.

As a teacher, Bert aimed to challenge students’ reality. He wasn’t afraid to insult people’s egocentric behavior to help them learn and grow as people. He risked making enemies for their benefit. His lessons were always infused with a dose of humor, whether people knew it or not.

In his role as professor, Bert helped to build the psychology program at UMF. A small department when he arrived, it became one of the most popular majors largely due to his leadership. In the classroom, his candid and sometimes controversial lessons pushed students to look at the world in a new, often uncomfortable way.

Lacking the ability to turn down a request to serve the university he cared deeply about, he acted as chairman of the department for a total of 24 years. Beginning in 2008, Bert served as faculty liaison to the University of Maine Board of Trustees. His advocacy focused on the student-centric approach to teaching that UMF provided.

Bert volunteered at many healthcare organizations including the American Hospital Association, and he was a member and chair of the board of Franklin Memorial Hospital in the 1980s. His experience with hospital administration gave him the knowledge to help countless colleagues, friends, students, and their families gain access to the best medical care available.

As a licensed clinical psychologist, Bert helped many people during times of need. He worked with veterans as a captain in the U.S. Army Reserves and with children during their parents’ divorces as a guardian ad litem. His research focused on victims of sexual abuse and treatment of offenders, and he testified as an expert witness in cases of abuse.

In his younger years, Bert enjoyed playing poker and competitive table tennis. In his quest for knowledge, he studied philosophers from Aristotle to Zeno. He developed a special love for dogs, often opening his home to rescued animals. The rebel in him enjoyed driving fast cars and speeding on motorcycles with loaded pistols (which he never intended to use) strapped to the hip.

One of the courses he developed that affected many lives was Death and Dying, which he taught for more than 30 years.  He aimed to help students learn to negotiate these most difficult topics.  Perhaps more importantly, his teachings about impermanence helped many people enhance their own lives – which, in turn, defined his own.

Bert was predeceased by his parents, who, along with his wife, he helped to care for at home for many years prior to their deaths. He is survived by his devoted wife, Kathleen Deul-Jacobs, with whom he spent the last 20 years, and four children and two grandchildren: Dr. Lou Jacobs, his wife, Ana, and their daughter, Anca; Ruth Jacobs, her husband, Craig Jackson, and their son, Anton; Dr. Max Jacobs and Thomas Deul.

Family and friends are invited to call at the Wiles Remembrance Center, 137 Farmington Falls Rd.,. (Rtes. 2 & 27) Farmington on Saturday afternoon from 2-4 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. until the time of the service at 1 p.m. Committal services will follow at Lakeview Cemetery, Wilton. In lieu of flowers, remembrance gifts may be given to an education fund for Bert’s beloved grandchildren: Bertram Jacobs Memorial Education Fund, c/o Key Bank, P.O. Box 829, Wilton, ME, 04294. Condolences and tributes may be shared with his family on his memorial wall at

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18 Responses »

  1. God bless this wonderful caring and giving man he was so rich with love for his fellow man,
    He will truly be missed by so many lives he touched and shaped with his determination to help
    others, They say if a man is a parent and if he be judged in his life,If for anything else by the
    offspring he brought up into this world then I know as many of us do. He was a remarkable success
    as a Father Husband friend and Teacher and a great Human being GOD BLESS HIS Wonderful
    Soul for all eternity, And may great Blessings remain among his FAMILY..

    Condolences Chuck Self (with great Admiration)

  2. Oh, Bert, I miss you already!

    For 21 years I was a Probation/Parole Officer in Farmington. Bert was our "go to guy". He counseled sex offenders, alcoholics, and the mentally ill, often without asking for payment. I loved his wisdom, his humor and his love of humanity.

    To his family I can only say that I liked this man a lot. He was a good man and he did well. Who could have a better legacy?

  3. What a great guy Bert was! Heaven will have a little more laughter up there. My sympathies to his family...

  4. Over 20 years ago I encountered Bert in the Death and Dying class and I have used some of his lessons and stories in my career teaching. To his family: I wish you peace as you mourn your losses and joy in knowing he made a profound impact on people privileged enough to be in his presence.

  5. We love you so much, Bert.

  6. My condolences to Bert's family. I had Bert as a professor MANY years ago and enjoyed his classes. I also knew him professionally and found him to be wise, down-to-earth and caring. I did not realize he had been ill and for that, I am sorry. Good-bye, Bert, and thank you for being the person you were!

  7. One of the best professors I ever had. A good teacher keeps your attention, he did that and then some!

  8. I had many of Bert's classes while attending UMF. I like his classes so much that I often took them a second time. He was an individual who you could talk to and get great advice from. He will be missed. My whole family had taken his classes at one time or another. My condolences go out to his family. He is one of the greatest person's that influenced my life.

  9. Bert Jacobs, you were one of the many reasons that I decided to become a psychology major and to help children. I've always kept your stories and lectures in my memory and you were one of the greatest, most thoughtful and caring people that I have ever known. Thank you for all of the help that you have given me, I'll miss you terribly. ♥

  10. Bert was always one of my favorite instructors, my advisor, and someone you could just talk to. He lessons were purposeful and real. His thoughts and insight are something I will carry with me as my career grows. I remember one time we were emailing back and forth, and Bert says, "This Bert, Bert thing is getting confusing."

    I was discussing with him once about a friend who had a benign brain tumor. He was quick to help and provided with me information to get this individual the best treatment possible.

    When I found out that Bert had passed due to his complications with leukemia, it hit me hard. Knowing that such a great person with the same name as mine had to battle the same disease as I was tough to comprehend. And to know that the man who taught me so much about living and life has passed is truly sad.

    Bert was great man. He will be missed. My heart goes out to all of those who were truly blessed to know this man. My deepest condolences to his family and friends.

  11. Bert was a friend of mine. I'm very sorry he has passed on. He was a good guy.

  12. I had Bert as a professor many years ago and he touched me deeply. He helped me through a troubling time and was absolutely wonderful. At first, I was a bit startled at his teaching manners and humor, but I grew to love him dearly and he quickly became one of my very favorites. I remember taking Psychology and the Law and he would show us a graphic picture or detail some horrific crime and then sit back and watch, seemingly enjoyinh the shock value, the reactions of us students and I found myself following that example and doing the same, interested in how others process such information, and learninga great deal. I am saddened to hear this news and wish his family and loved ones the best and hope they know how many people he touched and helped and inspired to be better and dig deeper.

  13. I never had Bert in any classes, but I experienced Bert from a business level. Blunt, "tell-it-like-it-is" Bert. If you couldn't take it, that was your problem, not his. Non-nonsense, for sure. He will be greatly missed.

  14. I have known Bert for over 50 years. We have tried several times through the years to remember where we first met. We finally decided it might have been at the Jewish Community Center. We were both into playing poker and they had poker games there. There we many times we played all night poker games and he would usually have very little money. But with his seemingly forceful personality, he would be able to scare and bluff most of the players and pretty much take over the game. I just stayed out of the way as we would never play against each other.

    We also took many trips on Friday nights to Dayton, which is a city about 50 miles north of Cincinnati, to play table tennis as Cincinnati did not have a very good club. Bert had to really work at it to become competitive, but like most things in his life, he read and practiced and became reasonably skilled.

    Bert was always there for me and anyone else who was fortunate enough to know him. He spent his life acquiring knowledge and whenever I had a problem, I would call him. he was never too busy to do whatever he could to help. He was also that way with countless students and the teachers he worked with. Often he would just listen as I would vent about things that were bothering me. I remember several times he and Kathleen took students into their home for a while when they needed help. He also helped several teachers find the proper medical treatment that they would have never gotten and is some instances probably saved their lives. He even drove some of them to Boston where the doctors were.

    I have never met and probably never will a more generous, compassionate, dependable, caring person. The world has lost a gem and I have lost my irreplaceable best friend!! But the memories and his spirit will remain with me forever.

  15. Thanks Bert.

  16. Reading of Berts passing made me realize how great an impact this one man had on so many lives, on my life. That he taught each of us to also go into the world and make a difference. He did this, I believe, by teaching us that each of us is unique and could therefore make that difference. If I can make an ounce of an impact on the world that Bert made in my life I believe I will have passed it on. To his family and close friends that is an incredible legacy.

  17. Condolences to the Jacobs Family. He was an inspiring Professor and a wonderful mentor.

  18. Dr. Jacobs was truly an amazing man, friend, mentor, and professor. I met him while a student at UMF many years ago and like many others, I was set back a bit when I first encountered his teaching style in the classroom. By the begginning of the next semester I was back in the classroom wanting to see and hear more from him. I am thankful that during my last two years at UMF I had him as a professor almost each semester. Our relationship grew into a friendship that helped changed my life path. His support and guidance helped me see clearly the gifts and skills I had to offer to society. He assisted me with graduate school, helping me choose wisely the path that I would take. While I am deeply saddened to hear of his passing, it is clear to me that his legacy will carry on through each individual, student, friend, and family member that he had influence on. My deepest sympathy is extended to his family.