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Jane F. Jacobs, 99, real estate broker, founded local chapter of UNICEF

Feb. 10, 1919 – Feb. 11, 2018

When her youngest child left for college, Jane Jacobs, at age 50, began what would become a long career as a realtor at a time when the field was dominated by men.

“My daughter used to tell me, ‘Mom, you’re always on the phone, you should do something with that,’” she told Buffalo Business First in 2001.

That prompted her to accept a job offer from a neighbor and family friend, George Matthews, who was a real estate agent. Her first sale was a home on Elmwood Avenue. She worked with the Matthews agency for about 15 years, until it closed.

Then she went to Gurney Becker & Bourne, one of the area’s leading real estate firms, where she worked until about 10 years ago.

Mrs. Jacobs died Feb. 11, a day after her 99th birthday, in Canterbury Woods, Amherst, where she had been a resident for several years.

Born in Columbus, Ohio, the former Jane Friedman came to Buffalo with her parents as a toddler and attended Park School and School 56. After graduating from Lafayette High School in 1936, she attended the University of Buffalo.

She was married in 1940 to Armand L. Jacobs, who became president of his family’s business, the Iroquois Bag Co., a manufacturer of burlap and cotton bags for the milling industry. While raising her four children, she became involved in several volunteer efforts.

Serving as a board member of the Buffalo Council on World Affairs, Mrs. Jacobs established the Western New York chapter of UNICEF, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund. In conjunction with the Council on World Affairs, she inaugurated the Halloween Trick or Treat for UNICEF fund drive, in which youngsters collected donations door-to-door instead of candy.

She hosted UNICEF’s celebrity spokesman, Danny Kaye, on a weekend visit here in the 1950s.

“She was incredibly involved in helping people, especially children,” her son John said.

She was also active in Temple Beth Zion, where she was secretary for the Sunday school, and with Working for Downtown and Friends of the Buffalo Psychiatric Center. She also was a member of the Camp Lakeland Association as well as a member of the Buffalo Section of the National Council of Jewish Women.

While working at Gurney, Becker & Bourne, Mrs. Jacobs specialized in residential listings in North Buffalo and the Delaware District, finding homes for professionals who were newly transferred to the city. She earned numerous sales awards and was a mentor to many younger associates.

Her husband died in 2001.

Survivors include a daughter, Nancy Jacobs Fischer; three sons, Robert, Richard and John; four grandchildren and two great-grandsons.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 25 in Temple Beth Zion, 805 Delaware Ave.

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