Jacob Close, Sylvania, Ohio, passed away Tuesday, April 22, 2014, at the age of 94. He was born May 6, 1919, in Toledo to the late Max and Dora Close, who immigrated from Russia in 1912. The fourth of six children, Jacob was a precocious child who started kindergarten at age 4 and excelled in academics. He grew up in the Roaring '20s, helping out around his father's shoe repair shop, playing in neighborhood football games, and roller skating the streets of Toledo. His family worked hard six days a week, but always made time for Sunday dinners and occasional picnics and trips to the zoo.
Jacob was a cheerleader at Scott High School, and graduated in 1936. After graduation, he worked as a grocery store manager. In 1941, he joined the U.S. Army and served as an infantryman in the 37th Infantry Division, or "Buckeye Division" of Ohio's National Guard. Jacob began his military career as an enlisted man, and was commissioned as an officer through Officer Candidate School.
During World War II he deployed to the Pacific Theater and fought in the battle for Bougainville in the Northern Solomon Islands, and in several battles on Luzon during the liberation of the Philippines. In combat his exceptional valor and leadership earned him the Bronze Star with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Purple Heart, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Combat Infantryman Badge. He remained in U.S. Army Reserve Forces after the war, retiring as a Colonel in 1972. During that time he served in several capacities at the 2087th Toledo U.S. Army Reserve School, eventually becoming the school's Commander.
After the war, Jacob was employed at A. Bentley & Sons construction company as a time-keeper. Over the next 32 years he worked his way up to Treasurer and Vice-President, and was instrumental in the company's conversion to the use of computers in the late 1960s. After retiring in 1982, he enjoyed photography, teaching his pet parrot to talk, attending Toledo Rocket football and basketball games, and playing golf with family and friends.
Surviving is his beloved wife, Elizabeth "Betty" Jane (Houston) of 72 years (married March 28, 1942). Also surviving are children, Kenneth Robert, Sylvania, OH and Gale Ann Mentzer, Toledo, OH; as well daughter-in-law, Patricia (Masterson) Close and son-in-law, Charles "Brett" Mentzer. Surviving grandchildren, who brought joy to his life, include Michelle (Close) Murphy and her husband Brian, Sylvania, OH, Donna Close, Toledo, Air Force Staff Sergeant Carol (Close) Walker and her husband, Matthew, Dayton, OH, Samuel Mentzer, North Canton, OH and Simon Mentzer, Herndon, VA. His lone surviving sibling is his younger sister, Rose (Close) Weiss, Northridge, CA. Preceding him in death were his daughter, Patti Jane (Grant); son, Donald Allen, and grandson, Peter Michael Mentzer.
Jacob was an active member of Fairgreen Presbyterian Church where he served several years as an elder. He and Betty loved to travel and made several trips across the country as well as internationally. Most of all, he enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren to whom he was an inspiration for hard work, determination, keeping a sense of humor, and maintaining high moral standards. In 1999, he published his military memoirs, dedicated to his grandchildren, Memoirs of a Groundpounder, in which he chronicled his World War II experiences.
To celebrate his life, consider donations to the Army Emergency Relief Fund
Viewing will be held at the Robert H. Wick/ Wisniewski Funeral Home, 2426 N. Reynolds Road, Toledo, Ohio on Friday, April 25, from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Funeral services will be held at Fairgreen Church, 3220 Laskey Road, Toledo, Ohio 43613, at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 26.
To leave a special message for Jacob's family, please visit
Published in Toledo Blade on Apr. 24, 2014
Wisniewski Funeral Home
2426 N Reynolds Rd Toledo, OH 43615