Family and friends of Joel (Jake) Leon Jakabosky were stunned when a short struggle with an aggressive MRSA infection resulted in his death on June 5, 2019. He was 75.
Jake was born in Portland, OR, on November 19, 1943, to Ione May (Genseroski) and Leon Joseph Jakabosky. At about 5 years old his family moved to the tiny town of Molalla, OR. In Molalla, Jake and his siblings could roam freely in the woods and fields around the town. He learned to closely observe the natural world around him and began fishing, hunting, watching birds and taking pictures.
Jake went to college at Oregon State University in Corvallis, OR, graduating in Range Management. He worked for Weyerhauser for several years, then jumped at the chance to hire on with the Bureau of Land Management. He spent the rest of his career with the BLM in Winnemucca, NV; Roseberg, OR; and finally in Spokane, WA. He was most proud of the work he did in the Spokane office, where as Hazardous Materials Specialist he was responsible for the cleanup of several toxic mine sites in north-central and eastern Washington. He retired in 2006.
Jake’s love for the natural world was part and parcel of who he was and it defined him throughout his life. An avid hunter and fisherman, he also loved birding, wildflowers, photography, and gardening. Jake’s idea of bliss was to stand knee-deep in a lonely bend of a river, coaxing the fish to bite with just the right cast of just the right fly.
In 1969, he married his first wife, Susan, and soon his much-loved son and daughter were born. After their divorce and his move to Spokane, he married again, but that relationship faltered, too. He finally found lasting love and companionship when he married Gwen Berry, on October 8, 2005. They moved to High Prairie at the end of 2006.
Jake was a quiet and kind man, with a strength and persistence that carried him far in life. Though many of Jake’s pursuits were solitary, he liked people and they liked him. With his quiet warmth and personal interest, he developed friendships wherever he went. He was always available to help or work with friends and to help out at community fundraisers and events. He volunteered as a firefighter/first responder with the High Prairie Fire District for almost 12 years and wrote a quarterly “Fire Lines” column for The High Prairian newsletter. In March 2019 he was named High Prairie’s Firefighter of the Year.
Gardening was always a big part of Jake’s life. After gardening at home for a while, he put all his attention on the local cooperative garden, the Garden of Weedin. Jake delighted in having his own little orchard at home where he could pick a peach or an apple and eat it right there under the tree; and he loved to share the bounty with friends.
An active birder, he inspired many who knew him to take an interest in birds and birding. He was seldom seen out and about without binoculars or his camera, or both. He liked traveling, and Jake and Gwen towed their trailer through explorations of California and the Southwest, all over Oregon and much of Washington. He fell in love with the red rock country of southeast Utah.
Jake is remembered with great love by his wife, Gwen Berry; son Aaron Jakabosky (Annie) and daughter April Brown (Erik); brothers Dale Jakabosky (Nancy) and Bob Jakabosky (Lanie); granddaughter Valerie Jakabosky; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his mother and father, and his sister Janis Herbison.
A memorial service will be held on Sunday, July 14, at 1 p.m., at the High Prairie Community Center at 701 Struck Road, outside of Lyle, WA.