Former Glenwood Springs resident Mary Jo Jacobs passed away on Sept. 1, at the age of 83.
She was born in Tulsa, Okla., but spent much of her childhood in Artesia, N.M. Mary Jo graduated from Park College in Parkville, Mo., and from the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Mary Jo practiced medicine in Montana, New Mexico and Oklahoma before moving to Glenwood Springs with her family in 1971. She established her Family Practice in Eagle and Glenwood Springs, where she became well known not only as a caring physician but also as a friend to all of her patients. She was the epitome of a rural physician, on call 24 hours a day seven days a week and often made house calls to see patients unable to make it in to the office. Yet she kept up to date on “big city” medicine and the national issues regarding health care. She earned the love and respect of the many lives she touched during her years of practice and was formally recognized in the late 1970s with the “9Who Care” award from Channel 9 News in Denver.
At the age of 59, Mary Jo returned to school at the University of California, Berkeley, where she received her Master’s degrees in Public Health and Policy. She had the opportunity to join forces with Colo. State Representative Pat Schroeder and Calif. State Representative Pete Stark where she helped draft legislation on public health policy. After spending a year in Washington, D.C., and completing her degrees, Mary Jo returned to Colorado where she practiced medicine for the Colorado Permanente Medical Group in Denver until retirement at age 76.
In addition to her private medical practice, Mary Jo served as the Garfield County Public Health Commissioner, was Chair of the President’s committee on National Mine Health and Safety, participated on Governor Lamms’ Board of Health and took part in both the Denver and Colorado Medical Society activities.
Upon “retirement,” Mary Jo moved to Mesquite, Nev., where she became known as an avid rock collector, poker player and outdoor adventurer. Mary Jo could often be found in the desert with friends and her dog, Domino, viewing the Indian petroglyphs, searching for turquoise or exploring any dirt road she saw.
In addition to the importance to Mary Jo of her profession and friends were her loving family, including her four children, Nancy Van Devander (Glenwood Springs), Patty Van Devander (Denver), Chuck (Beth) Van Devander (Missouri City, Texas) and Don (Kathy) Van Devander (Carbondale); and her five grandchildren, Chad, Emma, Reece, Cooper and Roie.
A memorial service will be held at the First United Methodist Church in Glenwood Springs at 2 p.m. Sept. 14 followed by a short reception. A remembrance will also be held in the Virgin River Casino, River Room, in Mesquite, Nev., on Sept. 21 at 10 a.m.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Mary Jo Jacobs MD Memorial Scholarship Fund, in care of Alpine Bank of Glenwood Springs, 2200 Grand Ave., Glenwood Springs, CO 81601.