Jacob Smith Memorial Service

Jacob Bert Smith (July 31, 1978 - June 10, 2017)

His fortune read: “You will step on the soil of many countries in your lifetime”. For all of us who knew him, that was certainly true. We just didn’t count on him completing those earthly travels so soon at the age of 38. On June 10, 2017 in Seattle, Washington, surrounded by his loved ones, he left for his last trip, but this time to his true heavenly home. Jacob did not lose his battle to cancer. As in every other trial in his life, Jacob fought valiantly with every breath to hold on to what he loved so dearly. He chose not to focus on his illness and impending death, but to be grateful for his full and fantastic life.

Jacob was a passionate man who fiercely stood up for the things he believed in. He was fun-loving, and especially loved being silly with his precious niece and nephew. He also appreciated the finer things in life, as in good wine, art, music, drama, and great restaurants. Most of all he cherished his family and friends, but he also loved to travel, read history books, immerse himself in politics and sports alike, and share his deep and abiding faith. He was proud to be a member of Gethsemane Lutheran Church.

Jacob was born on July 31, 1978 in Midland, Michigan to his parents Peggy Decker Smith and Richard Smith. He graduated from Midland High School, Albion College, and Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy at New School University in New York City, majoring in Political Science, Spanish, and Nonprofit Management.

The highlight of Jacob’s life was the years he spent serving in the Peace Corps. He served from June of 2001 until July of 2003. While there, Jacob had the best years of his life. “I am the happiest I have ever been”, he wrote. He lived in Ivancea for 11 weeks while in training, then moved to Balti to live with his host family for the remainder of his time. In the words of his country director, “Jacob was an exemplary volunteer….a Goodwill Ambassador and has helped to change stereotypes about the United States with his daily interactions and conversations with Moldovans.” He formed deep and forever lasting relationships with his fellow Peace Corps volunteers as well as the citizens of Moldova. He maintained contact with his beloved host family and friends right up until his death.

In his career life, Jacob chose to work for non-profit organizations. He served as Philanthropy Advisor, Major Gifts Officer, Regional Development Manager, and Director of Development in numerous NGOs aiding children around the world. But, it wasn’t just his “work”, it was his passion to help children in need. He continued to foster children even after he moved on to other organizations. He hoped one day to go back and serve in his beloved Moldova, but time ran out.

Jacob will be greatly missed by those surviving him: his mother, his beloved sister Rachael Tencza (Scot), adored niece Stella and nephew Lukas, precious grandmother Freda Somers, loving aunts: Sally, Judy, Donna, Joyce, Carol, and Diane, many dear cousins, his host parents Eugenia and Pavel Bolocan, and his chosen family Ernest Loevinsohn, Kathleen Guy, and Maia McFadden. In addition to family, Jacob will be deeply missed by many dear friends.

Jacob was predeceased by his father Richard, his grandmother Shirley Decker, grandfathers Burton Decker and James Bert Smith, his uncle Burt Decker, and cousins Steven Kindy and Jennifer Ryan.

In Jacob’s memory, please consider fostering a child or doing something else to help children, or giving a gift to Dream Foundation or Meredith’s Miracles Cancer Foundation.

As part of the celebration the gathered community enjoyed cherry pie, which was Jacob’s favorite birthday treat made lovingly by his Gram.



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