Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

John Jacoby, Ex-Chiefof Newark Airport, Dies

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

John Jacoby, Ex-Chiefof Newark Airport, Dies

Article excerpt

"I was in an amazing place, this Himalayan kingdom, in a time machine," John Jacoby said of Nepal, where he spent two years teaching science as a Peace Corps volunteer. "They were using ploughs that were the same technology as when the Buddha walked the Earth."

The experience stuck with Mr. Jacoby through three decades working for the Port Authority. Upon retiring as general manager of Newark Liberty International Airport in 2011, the Ridgewood resident returned to the Peace Corps -- as country director for South Africa. He and his wife, Carolyn, relocated to Pretoria.

The second career lasted just two years. Mr. Jacoby came home in late 2013 to be treated for pancreatic cancer. He died on April 8 at age 66.

Before he took ill, Mr. Jacoby was informed his next posting would be country director in Nepal, said Dick Day, Peace Corps regional director for Africa.

The prospect thrilled Mr. Jacoby. His stint in Nepal -- he joined the Peace Corps in 1970 out of Boston University -- was transformative. He lived without running water and electricity in a mud house with a thatched roof, in a remote village near the border with India. He taught in the village school. He became fluent in the Nepali language.

"The Peace Corps was a seminal part of who he was," Carolyn Jacoby said. Mr. Jacoby himself told The Record in 2011 -- the 50th anniversary of the Corps -- that his experience in Nepal influenced every facet of his life and career.

Mr. Jacoby "embodied the ideals of the Peace Corps and brought great compassion and a real commitment to understanding across cultures," Day said. "He was an extraordinary leader and manager for one of our most difficult posts in the world."

Mr. Jacoby oversaw 150 volunteers in South Africa and medical, safety and security operations for the southern Africa region. His Port Authority executive background helped him "breathe new life and vitality into one of our most complex programs," Day said, adding:

"Airports are like little United Nations now, in how diverse they are, and I remember John telling me about his great joy in interacting with the diverse cultures within Newark Airport. …

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