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Helen G. Jacob, longtime advocate for women veterans

May 16, 1918– March 2, 2015

Helen G. Jacob, a World War II sergeant and longtime powerful advocate for America’s women veterans, died Monday in Veterans Affairs Medical Center following a short illness. She was 96.

Mrs. Jacob was born in Buffalo, attending St. Mark’s School and Mount St. Joseph Academy. She served with the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, later renamed the Women’s Army Corps, in the United States and Europe from 1943 to 1945.

Mrs. Jacob spent most of her career in secretarial roles, working for The Buffalo Evening News, Curtis Wright, Keeshin Motor Express, the U.S. Navy and the Veterans Administration. From 1993 to 1999, she also was a consultant for the VA Medical Center in Buffalo.

But it was in her strong support for the welfare and recognition of women veterans that she made her mark.

Congressman Jack Quinn included Mrs. Jacob on his Veterans Advisory Committee and in 2004, he paid tribute to her in Congress, putting into the record a statement that said, in part, “Helen has been a shining example of advocacy and commitment to America’s veterans, both in Western New York and throughout the Nation. ... In 1996, the Buffalo VA Medical Center opened its Women’s Ambulatory Care Unit ... to address the growing needs of our female veterans. Helen was instrumental in this project. When we dedicated that wing, we recognized those tremendous efforts and named it accordingly. I would invite every Member to visit the Helen G. Jacob Women’s Wellness Center in Buffalo, New York.”

Mrs. Jacob also was on the Medical Center’s Women Veterans Advisory Committee, the advisory board of the New York State Department of Veterans Affairs Task Force on the Batavia Nursing Home and St. Mary’s School for the Deaf board of directors.

She received the Legionnaire of the Year award from Legionnaires of New York State in 1991, the Found Woman Award from Women’s Focus of Western New York, the Every Woman Opportunity Centers Award and the J.C. Penney Golden Rule Award for Community Service, among other honors.

In 1981, she became the first woman commander of the American Legion of Erie County and she was cofounder of ERIECO Women’s Post 1586. She also held top administrative positions with the legion on state and national levels.

Mrs. Jacob was a eucharistic minister for St. Mark’s Catholic Church, a member of its Ladies of Charity and former president of the Parish Council.

She belonged to and held leadership posts in many local social organizations, including Kiwanis of North Buffalo, the Women’s Overseas Service League and the Variety Club of Buffalo.

Mrs. Jacob married William H. Jacob in 1950; he died in 1975. Survivors include a son, H. William; a daughter, Patricia E. Somogye; a sister, Mary Alice Schwab; six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in St. Mark’s Catholic Church, 201 Woodward Ave.

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