Molly B. Jacobs, 77, active in many civic organizations

September 20, 2006|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,sun reporter

Molly B. Jacobs, who had been active in cultural, educational and charitable organizations for more than four decades, died of heart failure Monday at the Brightwood nursing home in Lutherville. The longtime Stevenson resident was 77.

She was born Molly Carter Bruce in Baltimore, the daughter of Albert Cabell Bruce, an industrialist, and Helen Eccleston Whitridge Bruce.

She was a great-granddaughter of Oden Bowie, who was Maryland's governor from 1869 to 1872 and a founder of the Preakness Stakes.

Raised on Charlcote Road in Guilford, she was a 1947 graduate of St. Timothy's School and earned a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Vassar College in 1951.

She worked briefly as a clothing buyer for Hutzler's department store before her 1953 marriage to Bradford McElderry Jacobs, a reporter and foreign correspondent who became editorial page editor of The Evening Sun. He died in 1997.

Mrs. Jacobs had served on the board of Union Memorial Hospital for 30 years. In 1961, she had been a founder of the women's board of the Peabody Institute and was its president from 1966 to 1975.

She was a trustee of the Peabody Institute from 1968 to 1976, and of the Peabody Conservatory of Music from 1976 until the late 1990s.

"No one was more visible than Molly Jacobs at Peabody. She knew the staff and the students and when she walked down the hall, everyone knew who she was," Elizabeth Schaaf, Peabody Institute archivist and curator, said yesterday.

"The women's board just didn't sit around drinking tea; they rolled up their sleeves and went to work. They helped establish the Candlelight Concert Series which brought major figures from the world of music to Peabody," she said.

"She helped get the Peabody Archives on its feet, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year. If something needed to be taken care of, from the restoration of a painting or helping a student, she did it," Ms. Schaaf said.

She had been a trustee of the Baltimore Museum of Art, and in 1985 was named to the board of St. Mary's College of Maryland by then-Gov. Harry R. Hughes.

Mrs. Jacobs had been a trustee of the Maryland Historical Society, chair of the Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage, and president of Chapter 1, Colonial Dames of America.

She had been a trustee of the House of Ruth, a member of the Maryland Committee on Physical Fitness and vice president of the Maryland Committee on Day Care for Children.

"She was always working for the welfare of people," said her sister, Helen B. Thomas of Phoenix, Baltimore County.

Dorothy C. Pearre, a childhood friend, described Mrs. Jacobs as "always vivacious and a good leader."

"She was a great supporter of so many Baltimore institutions and was very proud of her Bruce lineage, but I think one of her favorite things was serving on the board of Stratford, the Virginia boyhood home of Robert E. Lee, for so many years," said Thomas D. Washburne, a Baltimore attorney.

Mr. Washburne recalled her as a person who had a "wonderful personality yet wasn't afraid to speak her mind."

"Brad always called her the `Dollar Girl,' because she raised so much money. Some have a gift for it, and some don't, but she did and always worked very hard," said longtime friend Mary Kennedy "Bobbie" Rasin.

"She always considered her two greatest achievements in life serving as captain of the Spiders, the St. Tim's basketball team, and being related to Robert the Bruce, who was a member of one of the great clans of Scotland," said a daughter, Sally H. Jacobs, a Boston Globe reporter who lives in Belmont, Mass.

Robert the Bruce was king of Scotland from 1306 to 1329, and Mrs. Jacobs covered several pieces of furniture in her Hillside Road home in the Robert the Bruce tartan. She also collected books on the monarch who led his native land during the wars of Scottish independence.

Mrs. Jacobs was an avid tennis player until suffering a stroke in 1977. She enjoyed vacationing in York Harbor, Maine, writing short stories and entertaining at dinner parties where she was known for serving pots de creme, a French pudding.

She was a member of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 232 St. Thomas Lane, Owings Mills, where a memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday.

Also surviving are another daughter, Molly Bruce "Brucie" Jacobs, a former Baltimore lawyer and author, of West Stockbridge, Mass. Her book, Secret Girl, about her sister Anne Jacobs, who died in 2002, was published this year. There are also three surviving grandchildren.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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