|EDWARD “BUD” JACOBSON
March 18, 1922 – March 4, 2005
One of the founding members of the Phoenix Bonsai Society.
Edward “Bud” Jacobson led an elegant and purposeful life, always striving for improvement, always seeking out those moving forward. He distinguished himself in both his professional life, as an honored partner with the prestigious firm of Snell & Wilmer, and in his private life, as Arizona’s most tireless champion of the arts. With his passing on March 4th–a date that rings like a command–Arizona lost one of its genuine heroes, and many lost a cherished friend.
Bud was born in Chicago, Illinois on March 18, 1922, the son of professional parents. His father, Lewis, was an attorney and his mother, Pearl, was a judge, violinist and painter. He joined a sister, Shirley. Childhood bouts of rheumatic fever led his family to send him West, where the air was dry and there was the promise of recovery. He improved enough to return home and graduated from high school in Chicago, then attended Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1942 with Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa honors. After attending the Harvard Graduate School of Business, he moved to Tucson to study law at the University of Arizona. He graduated in the Honor Society in 1946 and began his career as the first law clerk to the Arizona Supreme Court.
He was only three years out of law school when Arizona first recognized the promise and potential of this adopted son. In 1949, while he was an Assistant Attorney General, he was named Young Man of the Year for Arizona. Twenty-five years later, he was named Man of the Year by the Phoenix Advertising Club. Bud joined Snell & Wilmer in 1950, actively practicing law for the next 40 years, then continuing “Of Counsel” from 1990 to present. He was going into the office daily until illness struck last December. He was a detailed, meticulous, dot every “i” and cross every “t” attorney, and his legacy reveals his reach into many areas of Arizona life. On behalf of the State Medical Association, Bud wrote the Medical Practice Act and the Professional Corporation Act. In 1990, the Association honored him with its President’s Award for Distinguished Service.
On behalf of the Indian Trader’s Association, he won a United States Supreme Court decision prohibiting 24 states from taxing trading post sales on reservations. On behalf of the Airline Association, he secured legislation which halved the tax on interstate carriers. On behalf of the Arizona Broadcasters Association, he was instrumental in the repeal of the state sales tax on advertising. The Broadcasters honored him with its Award for Outstanding Service in 1982. But his hours at the law firm were only the start.
He devoted himself to community service in general and the arts in particular for his entire adult life. The list of his community commitments is enormous. He has been President of both the Phoenix Art Museum and the Heard Museum and was a member of various committees of both institutions at the time of his death. For more than 20 years he served as Chairman of the Civic Center Management Board; was Chairman of the Central Avenue Design Committee in 1989; was a Board member of the Arizona Commission on the Arts from 1979 to 1988; Chaired the Phoenix Airport Arts Committee for Terminal 3; and Chaired the Governor’s Arizona Highways Advisory Committee that reorganized the legendary magazine. He helped create the Phoenix Arts Commission and the One Percent for the Arts law. He served on the Boards of Compas VI, VII and VIII and was instrumental in helping pass the nation’s largest bond issue for cultural development-Phoenix’ $100 million bond issue in 1989. In 1985, he authored a book and organized the first major exhibition of his collection of “turned wood bowls” — escalating it from a craft hobby to a fully-recognized new art form. The exhibit traveled worldwide to major museums and was eventually gifted to the Arizona State University’s Nelson Gallery, where Bud was an honorary member of the Advisory Board.
In 1987, he married his two great loves, by bringing major art influences into his law firm. He assembled the first and perhaps the largest and best collection of Arizona photographers on behalf of Snell & Wilmer. The collection has since been the subject of a major catalog by the University of Arizona’s Center for Creative Photography. Up until his death, his firm still looked to him to collect and display art in its various offices. It seems appropo that Bud is one of the few Arizonans to have received Distinguished Achievement Awards from two different ASU Colleges. In 1976, he was honored by the ASU College of Law; in 1982, by the ASU College of Fine Arts. In addition, in 1985, he was recognized with the ASU Centennial Presidential Medallion and in 1995, the University awarded him an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. (The year before, his baccalaureate, Carleton College, also awarded him an Honorary Doctorate.) In 1983 he was recognized with Arizona’s most prestigious arts honor: the Governors Arts Award for Outstanding Individual Contributions to the Arts. He won the Visionary Award from the Valley Leadership Alumni Association in 1990.
His place in Arizona history was assured in 1993 when he was awarded the Historymaker Award by The Historical League of the Arizona Historical Society. And in 1995, his illustrious law career was recognized with the prestigious Walter E. Craig Award from the Arizona State Bar Foundation. Through all this, Bud never forgot the individual artists, and was instrumental in helping advance the careers of many, including his lifelong friends.
What is not usually found on such an impressive and distinguished biography is the fact that Bud Jacobson had a wonderful, impish sense of humor. That he kept meticulous notes in his precise, small handwriting. That he would arrive for his longstanding Sunday morning breakfast club at Katz’ Deli with gifts of articles that must be read, catalogues of art that must be seen and questions that must be answered. He is remembered as a man who attracted friends of all ages. Who liked tabasco sauce on his eggs and a good melon. Who grew and nurtured bonsai plants with the patience of a grandfather. Who was a neat man preferring cashmere and fine suits, yet insisted on wearing those god-awful bucket hats that belied his good taste. He was devoted to the Downtown YMCA and worked out regularly with the “Early Birds.” He cherished long-time friends and was always ready to make new ones. To borrow one of his favorite lines, he might have said of his own life: “I didn’t like it, I loved it.”
His life will be remembered at a Memorial Celebration scheduled for 5:30 p.m. April 10, at the Phoenix Art Museum. Bud is survived by his nephew, Joseph “Spike” Schonthal, of Chicago and niece, Ann Weiskirch, of Chicago and their five children; by his Phoenix cousin, Scott Jacobson, who is Executive Director of Valley Leadership; by three godchildren: Carlton “Perk” Clark of Tucson, Kathleen Mallery Buckstaff of Phoenix, and Ann Steiner Green of Eugene, Oregon, as well as a host of companions who embraced him into their family of friends.
Published in The Arizona Republic on 3/15/2005. Reprinted by permission. Paragraphs added by RJB for ease of reading.
I am proud to say that I had the honor of knowing Bud and some of his world beginning in 1995. I had just been elected president of the Phoenix Bonsai Society and had heard that an “Edward Jacobson, Atty” was a founding member of the club. When the club yearbook came out in September, on a lark I sent a copy to the person so listed in the white pages. Soon after, a kindly elderly gentleman showed up for one of our club meetings at the Valley Garden Center. When the meeting was over, he came forward from his seat in the back and introduced himself, thanking me for the yearbook. He once again became an active albeit mostly nominal member. I was beginning the interviews about that time which would first show up in the club newsletter and then as Designing Dwarfs in the Desert, up through the first 35 years of the Phoenix Bonsai Society (Bud is introduced on pp. 22-23). He also confirmed my choice of a celadon-like hue for the cover of that commemorative history.
Bud and I had occasion to talk a number of times. I was invited to see his modest tree collection in his 12th floor apartment. The Phoenix Towers on Central Avenue had opened in 1957 and Bud had been one of the first occupants. He was literally able to watch Phoenix grow over the years — his living room windows and arcadia door faced north and east. You were able to look down into the courtyard of the Heard Museum from his vantage point. I still remember the gorgeous and large turned-maple burl he had as a stand for a large glass coffee table, as well as numerous objet d’art and other artefacts. His baby grand piano served as a plant stand — I never did hear him play it or sing, though. He frequently sought out my opinions and thoughts on caring for his trees, their health or places to acquire new ones. He gifted me with a copy of the book to which he penned the Foreword, Arizona Photographers, The Snell & Wilmer Collection (Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, 1990).
He was invited to the various shows the club held, particularly Matsuri and the State Fair. Upon his arrival he and I would walk around the displays and he would comment favorably on the quality and styles of the bonsai. He was always a modest, self-deprecating person. And once, yes, I did accompany him to brunch at the International House of Pancakes, perhaps a half-mile north of his home — but I didn’t really think his hat was all that bad. My son Andrew also got to see his apartment once. After I moved up to Kingman, AZ in 2002 I e-mailed with Bud a few times (he preferred talking to using the computer), but not as much as I would have liked. We miss you, and honor your memory and the life you shared with all of us, Mr. J.
| From the April 2005 issue of Woodezine, the world’s leading monthly online magazine for furniture building, carving, turning, marquetry, scroll sawing and more: http://www.woodezine.com/04_2005/0405_news1.html .
Per pg. 13 of the March/April 2005 issue of AzMedicine:
Link to some of Bud’s Bonsai Trees
The Collectors of Wood Art bestowed on Bud their 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award.