June 15, 2018
Mort Jacobs, professor emeritus of English, died July 5, 2017, at age 87. He taught at Lewis & Clark from 1964 until 1984.
Jacobs earned his AB in English from Cornell University in 1950 and his PhD in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1963. His academic interests and teaching were wide-ranging. He taught courses in medieval literature, which included some of his favorite authors and works. He also taught the history of the English language and introduced many students to comparative linguistics and folklore studies. Out in the field, he collected folktales from inmates at the Oregon State Penitentiary, where he later volunteered as a literature instructor. He was an early champion of Anglophone writers of the colonial possessions and of the postcolonial world, including many from the Caribbean islands, Canada, and India.
Mort—he was always “Mort”—often recalled his two overseas study programs as memorable teaching experiences, and he remained in touch with students from both. In 1969, he led a group to Israel, where a kibbutz stay and visits to archaeological sites were balanced by conversations with Israeli and Arab scholars, writers, and leading politicians. In 1976, he led a group to Quebec, where they were hosted at a Francophone community college in Montreal.
As an undergraduate, Jacobs had deejayed for his college radio station. To fulfill a desire to return to the airwaves, he hosted The Concert Hall, a late-night classical music show on KOIN-FM radio, from 1975 to 1977.
Jacobs is survived by his son, Dan Jacobs, of Denver; his daughter, Ann Gilbert, of Lake Oswego; and four grandchildren. His wife, Dee, died in 2009.