Dedication stirs memories, stories of Jake

Old friends gathered Saturday with family members to dedicate a 7.4-acre Minden wetland and wildlife sanctuary in memory of Lawrence E. Jacobsen, Carson Valley native and Nevada's longest-serving legislator.

Guests included Sen. Bernice Mathews, D-Washoe County, and retired Republican legislator Virgil Getto of Fallon.

"I have the fondest memories of Jake," said Getto, who served with Jacobsen for decades. "He was so important in my life. He was the most down-to-earth, honest person I ever met."

Getto told a story of traveling with Jacobsen to a meeting in New Orleans.

"We had almost identical pants," Getto said. "I left early in the morning before he did and I took a pair of pants I thought were mine and packed them in my suitcase.

"When I got home, I realized they were Jake's. Being the practical person he was, he only had the one pair with him. There he was with no pants in New Orleans on a Sunday morning."

Mathews spoke emotionally of how Jacobsen welcomed her when she was elected to the Legislature in 1995.

"Of all those legislators, it was Sen. Jake " the Republican " who took me under his wing. Friends we became, and a better friend you couldn't have," she said.

She thanked Jacobsen's wife Betty, their children and grandchildren for the invitation to speak.

"It's my honor to be here to say a few words," Mathews said. "This Valley reminds me of Jake " peaceful and quiet. I appreciate this community turning out this way."

Mathews, who said she was the only Democrat ever to dine at the Republican Jacobsens' home in Minden, cleared up an story for which Jacobsen took heat for several years.

"By me, you can tell he didn't care what color you were," she said. "A number of years ago, Jake was asked why there were no black folks in Northern Nevada. Jake said it was because it was too cold. But it wasn't Jake who said that first, it was (Sen.) Joe Neal and Jake got the rap. Joe Neal confessed that to me after Jake passed."

Neal, who is black, tried to set the record straight in 2003 when Jacobsen was inducted into the legislative Hall of Fame.

Neal said Jacobsen posed that question to him many years ago while he was driving Neal to the airport during a snowstorm. And Neal said it was because the climate was too cold.

"A few years later, a delegation from Nigeria was visiting the Legislature," Neal said. "Jake was asked the same question and he gave them my answer. Of course, my answer was just between us, but when Jake made this statement, he was ribbed about his answer for many, many years. It was not Jake, he got the answer from me," Neal said in 2003.

Nearly 80 people attended the dedication, hosted by the Town of Minden.

"This is the essence of a very special person who called Minden his home," said Bob Hadfield, town board member.

"He didn't waste words, he didn't brag, he didn't take credit. All he did was care about ordinary, everyday people. Jake will be looking down on this beautiful facility as it grows and prospers.

"He is not gone," Hadfield said. "He will live here. This is his place. This is his spirit."

Members of the Wild Cards barbershop quartet entertained the guests, in honor of Jacobsen's years as a barbershopper.

The recreation area, Jake's Wetland and Wildlife Meadow, is adjacent to the Winhaven subdivision on Lucerne Street at the end of the Martin Slough.

The project was built with $950,000 of Nevada's Question 1 funds dedicated to conservation.

Jacobsen, who served in the Nevada Legislature for 40 years, died in July 2006 at age 85 at his Minden home.


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