The man instrumental in the creation of Lorain County’s Emergency Management Agency and 911 phone system as well as the county’s solid waste and recycling program died Sunday.
Former County Commissioner Herbert Jacoby, 84, died of complications from heart disease, according to his son, James Jacoby. Herbert Jacoby served from 1985-96.
Jacoby worked from 1964-84 in the County Auditor’s Office where he became chief appraiser. Besides the recycling and 911 programs, Jacoby helped get the county’s first 0.5 percentage point sales tax passed which generated $6.9 million annually paying for the Lorain County Jail expansion.
Voters approved the tax in 1995 after five tries allowing the jail to expand from 168 beds to 376 beds in 1998, according to Sheriff Phil Stammitti who took office in 2000. Stammitti said Jacoby, who was his campaign manager when Stammitti first ran for office, was “instrumental” in getting the jail expansion tax passed.
In reluctantly seeking a third term, Jacoby told The Chronicle-Telegram in 1992 that he supported more money for the expansion and law enforcement. But he said he was beleaguered by the bad economy — the nation was in a recession — and fighting with then-Commissioner Mary Jo Vasi. Vasi didn’t return a call Monday.
“There are days when it’s tough to come in here and it’s not fun,” Jacoby said. “But I cannot just abandon the county at this time.”
James Jacoby said his father ran as a reformer who promised to be the county’s first full-time commissioner.
“He was the one who bucked the trend about the corrupt politicians,” Jacoby said. “He wanted to be an honest, straightforward, hardworking politician.”
Former Commissioner George Koury, who served with Jacoby from 1985-90, said Jacoby’s 20 years in the auditor’s office gave him an extensive knowledge of the county which he benefited from as a commissioner. Koury described Jacoby as hardworking, principled and tough.
“If it was for the best interests of the county, Herb was right there,” Koury said. “No matter how difficult it might have been.”
Former Commissioner Betty Blair served with Jacoby from 1991-96 and worked on his first election campaign. Blair, who said she considered Jacoby a mentor, said he loved the county and its residents.
“That showed in what he did,” she said. “He had a vision.”
Jacoby was known for his humor — he often began speeches by cracking a joke to lighten the mood — and his love for Frank Sinatra whose recordings could be heard blaring from the auditor’s office when Jacoby worked Saturdays.
“He would play them rather loudly and it was quite entertaining,” said County Auditor Mark Stewart who worked with Jacoby in the 1970s and 1980s.
Jacoby was also a huge boxing fan who emceed matches in his hometown of Lorain and attended title fights in Atlantic City, Las Vegas and Philadelphia. Colleagues said Jacoby and his wife, Mary, were inseparable — they married in 1949 — and he was devoted to his six children.
“His moral values and ethics that that he passed on to his children were priceless,” James Jacoby said.
Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or firstname.lastname@example.org.