Remembering Ray Jacobs

Greg Fischer Editor-in-chief
Taken from a still of the late Donaldsonville Mayor Raymond "Ray" Jacobs at his seat on the council.

Last week the country honored fallen heroes who gave their life in the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. But in Donaldsonville the city also remembered the birth of a family member, a friend and a leader.

Mayor Raymond "Ray" Jacobs passed away on March 19, 2005. His obituary may be found online, but family members say it isn't enough to go by remembering him.

"He was the kindest person," friend LaTonya Anderson said. "Whenever he could lend a helping hand, he would."

A memoir credited to Selma T. Cash, a dear friend of Ray's, states that Ray expressed the love he had for his family and community though what he did for others. That "love is what love does." Cash also wrote that many public officials' families suffer because of the time dedicated to service, but that family always remained first for Ray.

Anderson even recalls a tough spell in her life when out-of-the-blue Ray showed up at her door with enough money to cover her bills for the month. This was when Mya Jacobs, Ray's granddaughter, was still a baby. Now Mya studies at Xavier in New Orleans.

The next thing that stands out about Ray is maybe the fact that people say he was smart. He is even remembered to have often challenged the city's attorneys. Ray is said to have had an extensive library at home, and he was an avid reader.

"He had this library of books in his house, and every book that was on the shelf he read," Anderson said.

He may have even had a reputation of being a tough politician. Mayor Leroy Sullivan recalls that Ray would have a packed house for city council meetings, unlike today when attendance is often low.

"Ray had a way of getting everyone involved," Sullivan said. "He would go around and hand out flyers and stuff to get people to the meetings. He had a way of getting people there."

Ray Jacobs was a Donaldsonville city councilman for nearly a decade before becoming the city's first full-time African American mayor. He was also the city's first full-time mayor. A lifelong resident of Donaldsonville, Ray died Saturday, March 19, 2005. He was buried in Ascension Catholic Cemetery.

This might sum it up well:

"Ray was unselfish. He used personal resources to help a lot of people here . . . Ray was no respecter of persons. He believed everyone had value, had rights, and had a right to be heard and taken seriously. He gave credence to everyone regardless if they were a professional, laborer, affluent, poor, high on their luck or fallen on hard times. In Ray's world there was no big I's and little 'yous.' In Ray's eyesight truly all men are created equal."

That was taken from Cash's memoir of Ray Jacobs. To friends and family, here's to Ray. Happy birthday.