Elderly golf fan who died at US Open lost wife days earlier

TOWN OF ERIN - They had to be at Erin Hills on a glorious golf Sunday, celebrating two beautiful lives, a 68-year marriage and a passion for the game.

"He loved golf," Patti Loftin said of her father as she sat on a clubhouse patio, while in the distance the crowd roared. "He loved my mom. He loved his family."

On Tuesday, Lucille Jacobs, 88, of Wauwatosa, in faltering health after complications from a broken hip, passed away surrounded by her family.

On Friday, Lucille's husband, Marshall (Chick) Jacobs, 94, and her son, Bill, went to the U.S. Open. It wasn't easy. Marshall shot his last game of golf two years ago on Father's Day and had been in poor health after suffering a broken hip in January.

But he wasn't going to miss this tournament. He had made plans to see it back in 2010 when Erin Hills was awarded the championship, telling his son, "I hope I'm still alive when this thing is here."

Perched at the 6th green, father and son saw the game's great players go by during the second round.

"We spent three hours of bliss out there," Bill Jacobs said.

His dad was thrilled when Steve Stricker of Madison blasted out of the sand trap to within a few feet of the cup to save par.

At around 1:20 p.m., Marshall Jacobs became unresponsive and his pulse grew weak. Bill Jacobs hugged his father as emergency personnel were called to the green. Medics were prepared to administer treatment but there was a Do Not Resuscitate directive.

Marshall Jacobs died.

It was national news.

But it was also a family story.

"He got to see his favorite golfer (Stricker) make that last putt," Bill Jacobs said Sunday. "Jesus came down and said, 'Hey, Marshall, I'm going to bring you up and reunite you with your wife. Because obviously, you didn't want to spend any more time here."

He grew up in Delavan and she grew up on a farm near Richland Center. They met at the University of Wisconsin. He was a World War II veteran going to school on the GI Bill. She worked as a bank teller.

Everyone called him Chick, the nickname he received as a little boy.

He served in the U.S. Army again during the Korean War, receiving a Silver Star and a Purple Heart.

"He was head of this unit, he took them into battle and he did not leave until his men were all safe," Loftin said.

He was an engineer for 36 years at ACDelco and worked on guidance systems used in the Apollo program that lifted astronauts to the moon.

Lucille Jacobs was a homemaker, an excellent seamstress and bridge player. She was involved in scouting and church groups, and was even a "Goldwater Girl" in Barry Goldwater's 1964 run for president.

"She learned to love to golf," Loftin said. "She became a serious golfer because of my father. She did not want to be a golf widow."

Marshall Jacobs picked up golf as a caddie. For years, he had he played with a group of friends that nicknamed themselves, "The Hacker Brothers."

He was a longtime marshal at the Greater Milwaukee Open. In the basement of his home, he set up a little practice area for putting and also bounced chip shots off a board. When his grandkids were born, he built them a large sandbox. It doubled as a practice area for sand wedge shots.

He was a good golfer, single digit handicapper in his prime, and even once outdrove the pro at the old Tumblebrook Country Club.

Golf was more than a game for the couple. It was a big social thing. They played in couples leagues and they traveled the country, hitting courses in Texas, South Carolina and Florida.

"They said the most beautiful places on earth were golf courses," Loftin said.

Into their early 80s, you could find them on a course together, pulling their carts. They read golf magazines and were avid watchers of the Golf Channel.

At the end, it was golf that got Marshall Jacobs through his final days. He was so excited to go to the U.S. Open. He looked at the course map, planning where he might sit. Always a dapper dresser, he wanted to look just right, and made sure to wear his best golf shirt.

Bill Jacobs pulls out his cellphone and shows two photos of his father taken at the course. His father was beaming.

"It's like a shock, with a smile on it," Loftin said of the last few days.

The family was grateful to Erin Hills officials and the United States Golf Association for their concern and the help they provided.

When they heard that Stricker was their dad's favorite golfer, an official got Stricker to sign a player's credential. The family said it wants to frame the credential in time for Friday's joint funeral at Schmidt & Bartelt, 10121 W. North Ave., in Wauwatosa.

Loftin looked out over the course and remarked about how sacred it all looked. Before leaving, she promised herself that she would walk to the sixth green.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


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