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Jacob Russell (Jake) Wahlberg

Obituary
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Jacob Russell (Jake) Wahlberg If you've ever spent time in Downtown Arcata, you probably saw Jake pedaling around on his bike. A creature of habit, it was his custom to spend the mid-day in town, weather permitting, visiting Hensel's, Northtown Books, and the Co-op. Jake was born to Russell and Della Meyer Wahlberg on his grandparents' farm in Spring Valley, MN in the winter of 1932 and spent his childhood summers helping his beloved grandfather work the farm with horse-drawn plows, wagons and sleighs. He felt fortunate to have experienced simple farm life before electricity. He graduated from high school in Rice Lake, WI and in the early fifties joined the Army and served in Germany where he learned to appreciate good beer, fresh bread and fresher girls. After the Army, he studied engineering at the University of Minnesota, before his marriage to his first wife, Betty. Together they had daughter Debra Kay, and lived in Minneapolis where Jake worked several jobs, finally as a draftsman. Fed up with the bitter cold, he loaded up his family and left for sunny California. His Midwestern co-workers warned that only kooks and loonies lived out there; and Jake discovered he was one of that sort. He worked in southern California as a designer/ draftsman, ending up in Santa Barbara where he fell in love with volleyball and could be found at the beach nets at noon with his co-workers. This sparked him years later to work for Parks and Recreation in Arcata, heading up the volleyball program for 28 years and playing well into his seventies. In 1968, he took a job in Albuquerque, NM where he met Jaffa Dugan. They became fast friends -- sharing political, social and philosophical views, as well as the same birthday! Their romance came later and lasted over 43 years! In 1970, they were married in tie-dye velvet by friends and attended by Jaffa's young daughters - Danya (8) and Melea (5). They moved to Sonoma in 1971 to experience communal living with their friends, the Solems. During this time, he worked for Sabastiani Winery, and they made frequent trips to Arcata to visit the Thonson Clan. In 1972 they moved up for good and parked their converted school bus in Bill & Sally's backyard. A mid-Western guy with a strong work ethic, Jake was rarely idle. He was an eager and quick learner and found great satisfaction in building a small cabin adjacent to the bus, all for less than $500.00! Did we mention that he was thrifty? Nothing ever went to waste in Jake's domain. He gained more skills working with Ben Fairless and Alex Stillman restoring a house moved by the freeway expansion. In 1974, John Bennett taught him the art of making gold crowns and a new career was born. He worked for John for eight years, and then did odd jobs helping friends with their building projects before returning to drafting at the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District. When that job ended a few years later, he went back to the dental lab, working for Tom Lewis for six years and then for Russ Davis for seventeen. He enjoyed commuting on his bike to a job he loved. The office staff was very dear to him and became his workday family. He retired in 2009 at age 76. Jake was a very capable and creative cook. Potlucks were his favorite because of the variety he could experience in one sitting. He was an outdoor guy and preferred any task outside. He particularly liked his time in Hawaii with Peter Brant playing "Robinson Crusoe". Reading was one of his passions and he could be found most lunch times on the deck with fork in one hand and book in the other, soaking up what bit of warmth the day had to offer. Jake was also a crooner. Blessed with a gifted voice and wide range, he sang melodies of various genres: he could even yodel to the delight of his family. His favorite motto was "excess in moderation", except when it came to collecting; he could not throw away anything he deemed usable. Jake's keen and curious mind shaped his view of the world. Mostly self-educated through his avid reading, he disliked politics, war, religion, violence and social injustice. He embraced nature, fitness, humor, learning, good company, sunshine, sports, family and travel. He and Jaffa felt fortunate to have visited Costa Rica, Italy, Greece, Mexico, Sicily, Nicaragua and, most recently, France. He liked learning the history and customs of different cultures. In mid-November, he celebrated his 80th birthday at a surprise party attended by a host of friends. He enjoyed every moment! A few days later, we learned he had severe coronary artery disease and on December 1, 2012, he passed from this plane surrounded by the love of his family. He leaves behind: his wife, Jaffa, his daughters, Debra, Danya, and Melea, his granddaughters Kathlyn and Kailani, his sister, Karen and husband, Bill Dushek, his brother, Layton and numerous nieces and nephews all of whom brought him joy. His gentle, affectionate manner and easy smile will be missed. Jake's family would like to thank his Doctors and the staff of St. Joseph's ICU and PCU all of whom so capably and compassionately looked after us all. Memorial contributions can be made to his favorite thrift stores, Angels of Hope, Hospice Shop or to Arcata House Partnership. A celebration of Jake's life will be held at 2pm on June 9th at Fieldbrook Winery. Please sign the guest book at www.Times-Standard.com, click obits.

Published in Eureka Times-Standard from Mar. 3 to Mar. 6, 2013
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