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April 24, 2009

Bernie Jacobson dies

The ferry and passenger vessel industry has lost an iconic figure. Bernie Jacobson, 75, of IBJ Associates, died April 22nd after a brave three-year bout with brain cancer.

His son, Michael Jacobson, remembers him as "an avid Bostonian, international traveler, and jazz aficionado, Bernie had an amazing sense of humor, never saw a hat he wouldn't wear, a trail he wouldn't hike, or a bamboo he wouldn't transplant."

After a distinguished career as a U.S. Coast Guard officer, Mr. Jacobson became a transportation management consultant specializing in ferry operations and water transportation.

His insights were all the more valuable because he brought to them the practical experience gained as General Manager of the North Ferry Company, operating a fleet of four ferries carrying vehicles and passengers in a year-round service to an island community on the east end of Long Island, N.Y. During his 12-year tenure, he managed finance, operations, engineering, marketing, personnel, security, and planning functions for the fleet that carried over one million people in 2000.

He graduated from Newark's Weequahic High School, earned a BS in Engineering from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, and an M.S. in Management from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif.

As an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard, Mr. Jacobson held a number of planning positions. As Chief, Plans and Evaluation Staff, Office of Marine Environment and Systems, he coordinated planning programming and budgeting for Port Safety and Security, Marine Environmental Protection, Aids to Navigation, and Bridge Administration. He developed operating plans and conducted investment studies for new ships, aircraft, and boats. Mr. Jacobson was also assigned as Transportation Economist to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Transportation for Policy, Plans, and International Affairs where he carried out a three-year economic study of inland barge transportation. He also served for four years as Assistant Professor of Operations Research and Economics at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

One of his highest honors was serving on the Transportation Research and Marine Boards of the National Academies, bringing his expertise and diverse experiences as regulator, operator, and consultant.

Prior to forming IBJ Associates, he was a senior consultant at Temple, Barker, & Sloane (later Mercer Management and now Oliver Wyman) and prior to that a senior associate in Booz, Allen & Hamilton's Ports and Maritime Group.

We at Marine Log were fortunate in having his advice and guidance on planning our long running series of FERRIES conferences at which he was a familiar and respected figure.

He was predeceased by his daughter Karin Elizabeth Jacobson and his step-daughter Becky Layne Roberts. He is survived by his devoted wife, Jeanne Sillay Jacobson of Boston; sister, Sybil Brody of Great Neck, N.Y.; son Michael Jacobson (Cara Berman) of Seattle; step-sons Scott Roberts (Kym Chaffin) of Charleston, W.Va., and Lee Roberts (Janet Olson) of Maplewood, NJ; daughter-in-law Lisa Milliken of Bend, Ore.; and grandchildren Dylan, Morgan, Emily, and Benjamin.

Donations in his name may be made to: Brain Tumor Center, Tufts Medical Center, Box 231, Boston, MA 02111. Memorial at 2 pm, April 25th at First Parish, 23 Dedham Ave., Needham, MA; interment at a later date in Arlington National Cemetery. Arrangements by the Bell-O'Dea Funeral Home in Brookline, MA

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