MARBLEHEAD — Longtime Selectman Judy Jacobi, an advocate for the interest of seniors, town nonprofits and the preservation of the town's historic Abbot Hall and Fort Sewall, has died.
She was 81, according to town records.
"The Board of Selectmen is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Judy Jacobi, a fellow Selectman who served the Town of Marblehead faithfully for over two decades," read a statement from the board on Monday shared by Town Administrator Jason Silva.
Jacobi won her 21st election to the Board of Selectmen, whose members are elected to one-year terms, one month ago.
“I will always be grateful for the opportunity given to me to work with Judy as she served on the Board of Selectmen," Silva said. "Needless to say, we are all heartbroken by her sudden passing. What I admired most about Judy is that she always, no matter how difficult the situation, found an opportunity to say something positive and always treated everyone with respect and kindness. Her love for the Town of Marblehead was contagious."
Jacobi was first elected to the Board of Selectmen in 2000. She had also served as chairman of the Friends of the Council on Aging and as liaison to the Council on Aging Board.
"She always went above and beyond to make sure that the Council on Aging was well represented on the Board of Selectmen and that our seniors were receiving the resources, programming, and facilities they require," the statement read.
Former Selectman Harry Christensen said Jacobi gave her all to the town. The news of her death, he said, "has shaken the town of Marblehead to great depths."
"If they could put a female face on the Spirit of '76, she would be one of the drummers," Christensen said of the iconic painting that hangs in the Selectmen's Room in Abbot Hall.
Jackie Belf-Becker, chairperson of the Board of Selectmen, said word of Jacobi's death came as a shock to her.
"I'm just devastated," she said.
"Her legacy was how much she cared about the town, the people in it, her friends," Belf-Becker said. "She will be sorely missed by many people and she was loved by all."
Serving on both the Fort Sewall Oversight Committee and the Abbot Hall Building Committee, Jacobi also worked to secure funding for the renovation of historic Abbot Hall and Fort Sewall.
"These projects would not have come to fruition without her fundraising tenacity, leadership, and love and appreciation for the history of Marblehead," selectmen said. "Her genuine kindness, deep concern for helping residents in need, and infectious, positive spirit made her an effective advocate for many causes in Town."
Jacobi also served and gave to town nonprofits such as the Female Humane Society, Anchor to Windward, the Old Marblehead Improvement Association, the League of Women Voters and Care Dimension, formerly Hospice of the North Shore.
Three years ago, Jacobi received the Marblehead Chamber of Commerce's Ray Moulton Person of the Year for her years of involvement with the business organization and the town.
"Judy’s background as a teacher often served as an important backdrop for many of her decisions on the Board of Selectmen starting many of her statements or comments with 'as a former teacher….'”
Selectmen said Jacobi was also someone residents turned when they were in need of help.
"While Judy would often refer to her days in New Jersey, we all know that Judy was a true Marbleheader through and through," the statement added. "There is nobody who has cared more for the Town of Marblehead. The only thing Judy loved more than Marblehead was her family and her husband, Gene. After Gene’s passing in 2015, their godson and nephew, Robert Martina said about Judy and Gene, “His first love was Judy; his second love was Marblehead.” We’re quite sure Judy felt the same way."
"She’ll be missed by all who knew her but her memory will live on through all of her good works and deeds," Silva said.