Richard Neil Jacobson was born to fly. His first flight was to the hospital for his own birth that snowy January in 1948. Richard, 67, took his last flight to heaven on April 9 at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., surrounded by his children.
Richard grew up a farm kid in Wolford, ND. He graduated from NDSU in 1970 with his USAF ROTC Commission. He was also a member of the SAE fraternity. After graduation he attended USAF Pilot Training and earned his wings at Williams AFB in Ariz. He was assigned to fly C-130’s in the Vietnam War. He flew over 400 combat hours and was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Air Medals and an Oak Leaf Cluster.
After his service in the Air Force, he began his life-long career flying passenger jets for Braniff Airways and Northwest Airlines. He traveled the world and always brought along his humor and his North Dakota roots. First Class passengers were offered his cinnamon-sugar lefse bites on Christmas Eve and he would announce to the children on board there was something on the radar that looked like a sled with reindeer. Richard retired from Northwest in 2001 as Captain on the 747-400, the airlines largest plane.
Over the years Richard lived in lots of different places: Grand Forks, N.D.; Minneapolis, Nisswa, Burnsville and Park Rapids, Minn.; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Wickenburg and Peoria, Ariz. Most recently, he split his time between Big Sand Lake in Park Rapids and Peoria. He loved fast cars, good food and wine, sharing stories, participating in his communities, cooking, photography and his children; Andrea Jacobson (Jacob Wolff), Jennifer Rath (Jason) and Skipp Jacobson (Oliwa) and especially his grandchildren (Ginger and Odin Jacobson and Hunter and Greta Rath).
Rich was diagnosed in 2005 with Agent Orange-related Lymphoma. He underwent a born marrow transplant in 2007. Even with a very compromised immune system, he lived each day to the fullest and overcame continued health challenges. In late March he succumbed to staph pneumonia and multiple organ failure. Love for and from his kids and grandkids lit up his last difficult years.
Richard will be greatly missed by his siblings; Ardis Jacobson, Mary Jane Haugen and Burton (Marlene) Jacobson. Richard was preceded in death by his parents G.O. and Mary Jacobson.
A celebration of Richard’s life will be held May 23, at 10:00 a.m. at Calvary Lutheran Church in Park Rapids, 9:00 a.m. visitation. Final interment will be at Punchbowl National Cemetery in Honolulu, Hawaii at 10:30 a.m. on July 10. Memorials can be made to the Big Sand Charitable Lake Fund or donor’s choice.
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