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Geralyn "Gera" Jacobs


1952 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Geralyn "Gera" Jacobs Obituary
Geralyn "Gera" Jacobs

Geralyn (Gera) M. Jacobs, beloved wife, adored mother, and respected educator, died of cancer Wednesday morning, June 22, 2016 at Sanford Hospital in Sioux Falls. She was 64 years old. During the five months Gera knew she had cancer, she still truly lived her life to the fullest: being present with her family, traveling to national parks, and presenting at conferences all while undergoing chemotherapy treatments. Gera continued to be the epitome of grace and strength throughout this time.

Gera was born in Cincinnati, OH to the late Charlotte (Frigge) and Charles Hirt on January 18, 1952. She was the fourth of five children and looked back on her time growing up on Phillorett Drive with such happiness. In 1974, after being courted with enormous love, admiration, and determination, she married the greatest love of her life, Gerard (Jerry) Jacobs, in a joyful ceremony at the National Shrine of Saint Anthony. To this union were born their three blessings: their daughters. In 1988, Gera, Jerry, and girls moved to Vermillion, SD, where their life's work flourished: Jerry as a psychologist in disaster mental health, and Gera as a leading educator of young children. During Gera's 28 years in Vermillion, she was known first as one of the finest kindergarten teachers in town. After receiving her Doctorate of Education from USD in 1993 and serving as Professor of Early Childhood Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, she was then known as one of the finest educators of those teaching young children. In 2002 she was named the South Dakota Professor of the Year, and she received numerous awards for excellence in teaching and research. Her many colleagues and students can attest to the passion and dedication she brought to her field. Her graduates have taken to calling themselves "Gera's Girls."

Gera was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) in 2006, and was elected president of that organization with her term beginning in 2011. Together with her dear friend and colleague Kathy Crowley of Vermillion, she published three books in the early childhood education field. Countless children and families all across the nation have brighter futures because of the work Gera did.

Gera will be deeply missed by her devoted and loving spouse of 42 years, Gerard Jacobs of Vermillion; her daughter Meriah Jacobs-Frost and her husband Robert of Watertown, MN; her daughter Katie Jacobs and her partner, Jo Leavesley of Wellington, NZ; her daughter Bridget Jacobs and her wife Lindy Obach of Sioux Falls, SD; and her Grandson James Frost and Granddaughter Eleanna Frost of Watertown, MN. She will also be missed by her four siblings: Chuck Hirt of Slovakia, Bill (Ann) Hirt of Dayton, OH; Gina (Denny) Schmitt of Cambridge, WI; and Ed (Kathy) Hirt of Bloomington, IN, along with numerous nieces and nephews.

A celebration of life will be held at St. Agnes Church, 416 Walker St., Vermillion, SD beginning at 2:00 p.m. Monday, June 27, 2016 with an opportunity to remember Gera with family and friends, and a joyful funeral mass to follow at 3:30 p.m. Guests are invited to wear purple or their favorite colors. Father John Fischer will be the celebrant. In keeping with her lifetime commitment to education, Gera has donated her body to science. HansenFuneralHome.com.

In lieu of flowers, Gera requested that donations to be made to one of the following organizations that focuses on increasing the quality of life of children and families: NAEYC, 1313 L St. N.W. Suite 500, Washington, DC 20005; The Center for Children & Families, 505 Stanford Street, Vermillion, SD 57069; the USD Child Care Center, 414 E Clark St, Vermillion, SD 57069; or Water.org, 117 West 20th Street, Suite 203, Kansas City, MO 64108-1909.
Published in The Argus Leader on June 24, 2016
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