Old School All the Way

Barbara Jacobs

She's just retired after 50, count 'em, 50 years. That’s how long Barbara Jacobs gave her all to the Academy as she ran the mailroom, and the mail throughout the campus, all the while connecting with everyone, cadets, faculty, and staff. Much like her predecessors from days of yore, she would deliver in any kind of weather, often to the amazement of those who would watch her, head bowed against the elements, pushing her trusted cart to make sure that needed deliveries and pick ups were always made.

With the exception of a couple of short hospitalizations, Jacobs showed up to work every day focused almost solely on helping the cadets here at the Academy. Her title, Clerk V of the Mail Distribution Center, didn’t begin to describe the extent of what Jacobs did, nor her commitment to it. “She’s the epitome of the word ‘worker,’” says her friend and fellow AFSCME member Maria Cullen, who nominated Jacobs for a Never Quit Service Award in 2018. “She has a work ethic that’s a rarity today. She was energized and happy every single day at work.”

She was a one-person hub of the student mail room, chatting with cadets while ensuring all their mail and parcels were handled correctly, often providing – at her own expense – the tape, staples or stamps that cadets occasionally forgot. For many of the cadets, some of whom come from as far away as Panama and China, Jacobs had, for the past half century, been both cheerleader and friend. “They loved her. She knew almost all of them,” says Cullen, who works in the International Programs Office. “You heard them thanking her all the time."

Barbara Jacobs credits her tough Scottish-Yankee upbringing for her stamina. For her, the cross campus treks were just part of the job.“I had a paper route when I was a kid...and you just did what was expected of you. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s the expression that’s not my job. I like to think of us all as team players...we’re all paddling in the same direction.”

Barbara Jacobs was on board for generations of graduates as they embarked on careers as deck officers; captains, marine, environmental, and facilities engineers, among many, many others. But before they went out into the world to become leaders in the industries the Academy serves...as students they relied on Jacobs as that welcome constant in their lives.