Our beloved father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Charles Leonard Jacobson, 95, of Great Falls, MT peacefully passed into God’s arms Monday, April 22, 2019. A Funeral Service will be held this Friday, April 26th at 1:00 PM in the Rose Room Chapel at Croxford Funeral Home.
Charles was born in Butte, MT on October 3, 1923, the 3rd and youngest son of Leonard and Minnie Jacobson, and the first to be born in a hospital and not on the family ranch between Wolf Creek and Craig. His youngest years were spent in the care of both of his grandmothers (one Norwegian and one German) who resided at the home place for long stretches. As a consequence of both of them speaking to him in their native tongues, he did not really know or speak much English until he got to grade school. One of his earliest memories (when he was about 4) on that ranch was accompanying his brothers to the barn on the hill where the grain was stored to watch his brothers fill a cloth sack full of grain for a neighbor’s stock. He was wearing a set of bib overalls, and as his older brothers were filling up the sack, a mouse ran across the grain and then right up his leg inside his pants. He remembers being so startled that he couldn’t speak and when he did it was in German, and his brothers became quite amused with his dancing and shouting ability at such a young and tender age.
Charles attended school in Wolf Creek through the sixth grade, under the tutelage of Robert Funk, who was also his scoutmaster. He was in the school harmonica band (a mandatory responsibility) which played at many social events in Wolf Creek and the surrounding area. From 7th grade on, he rode the bus (a 1929 Ford Model T Station wagon which his brother Marvin drove) to Cascade from where he graduated valedictorian of his High School Class of ’42. The summer of ’42, Charles ran the family farm (900 acres) with a team of horses, no tractor and used the income to help pay for 2 semesters of college in Missoula along with the valedictorian scholarship that he was granted. With WWII happening, and his two brothers already in the service, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. He trained in California and then Georgia, learning to shoot the big cannons of that war, and then was sent overseas to France and then into Germany. As the war wound down, he was put in charge of a group of POWs in a camp 45 miles outside of Paris. He also delivered mail to other GI’s since he had previous experience helping his mother, Minnie in her duties as Postmistress of Wolf Creek. The remainder of his duties at this time were related to processing and getting our GI’s back home. After he returned from overseas in 1946, Charles then returned to Missoula in pursuit of a degree in Law. He graduated in 1950 from Missoula and served as a law clerk for the Montana State Supreme Court for a year or so and then went on to practice law in Libby, MT with a fellow classmate, Cy Crocker. It was in Libby that he first met and then courted his wife to be, Joy Danielson, who was a schoolteacher of Home Economics. They were married in 1954 and moved to Conrad, MT to begin their life together and to start and raise a family of 2 sons and 3 daughters. It was said that Conrad was their choice of residence because it had sidewalks (compared with Chester, Shelby and Cut Bank). His first law office was at the top of a long, long staircase on the second floor of the old PCA building, right next to Harry Yunck, Dentist. Charles practiced the law in several northcentral counties, including Glacier, Toole, Pondera and Teton and was even asked to be the city attorney in Cut Bank for a while in the early ’60’s. Charles felt that everyone was guaranteed equal protection under the law, and if some local family had fallen on hard times, fees were collected in eggs or chickens or half hogs or even just written off. He was affectionately dubbed “Columbo” by many of the law officers and court officials that knew him from the long overcoat that he wore and slightly rumpled hair, as well as a nod towards his abilities as a criminal attorney. As one may imagine, travel on those two-lane highways around northcentral Montana made for some interesting trips in the winter. Charles had a lifelong affinity for books and the written word, and he accumulated a lot of law books (as was the custom in those days). In these days, computers have erased the need for such things. Pity. Charles then moved his office to the ground level in the old Gamble Store, and what is now called the Conrad Port Authority. Charles belonged to the Masonic Lodge serving as both the Worshipful Master of the lodge in Conrad, as well as being selected by the local chapter of the Eastern Star to be their Worthy Patron. He was also a member of the York Rite. This story would not be complete without mentioning that during his practice of law, Charles was court appointed and involved in helping another attorney, Barney Reagan, out of Cut Bank, in the defense of the case of Duncan McKenzie, for which there was a lot of notoriety in those days, and ill will, even to the point of death threats against his family. Despite these threats, Charles fulfilled his duty to the law and his client. Suffice it to say that though these times were tough in many ways, Charles did not shirk his duty. He was recognized and given an award by the Cascade County Bar Association in recognition of his commitment to the law and to the high standards that he exhibited.
In the year 2000, Charles received his 50-year pin from the Montana State Bar Association. This was also the year that he and Joy moved to Great Falls. From this base of operations, many further trips were made to the cabin at Monarch, where there was always an ongoing or new project to be worked on. Many hours were spent at this refuge, and it became a focal point for numerous family activities.
Charles is preceded in death by his loving wife, Joy; parents Leonard and Minnie; brothers, Marvin, James; sister, Jeanette; and son-in-law, Gary Ketterling.
Charles is survived by five children, Dan Jacobson (Debbie Hamma), Lou Joi Poelman (Stan) of Great Falls, Meralee (Ed) Street of New Caney, TX, Charlise Ketterling of Vancouver, WA, Jake “Marc” Jacobson (Debylee Gunderson) of Helena, grandchildren; Jillian Jacobson, Cedric Jacobson, Brenna Bushaw, Bailey Bushaw, Edward Street, James Street, Meghan Street, Tracy Philbin, Dino Bott, Katie Ketterling Thornberg, Clint Finlayson and Cameron Jacobson as well as many great grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
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