The Belt family lost a cherished member Jan. 9.
Former Signalman Charlie Jacob passed away, leaving behind cherished loved ones, great memories and a legacy of excellence as a railroader.
The Belt has always been busy but never busier than when Jacob began his 40-year career in 1965, following in the footsteps of his father, a plumber for the Belt. Ready to settle down after serving in the Army during the Vietnam War, he married his wife, Luana, the same year.
“He was a dedicated and hard worker,” his daughter Lisa Jacob-Leicht remembers.
To support his young family, he worked a second job at a laundromat in addition to putting in a lot of overtime at the Belt.
Like many railroaders, his co-workers became an extended family. Members of that family regard Jacob as an exceptionally kind man who touched the hearts of many. Employees fondly recall him taking care of a stray dog that wandered onto BRC property, often stopping at local convenience store before work for dog food. He ensured that the canine he dubbed “Roy” stayed warm in the winter. Jacob was the only human Roy trusted.
His daughter said that he frequently looked after animals in need.
“He gained the trust of a feral cat and later adopted her into his home and heart,” she said.
It wasn’t just animals who knew his generosity. Jacob volunteered at an area food pantry.
Jacob, who called Oak Forest home for the last quarter-century of his life, graduated from Kelly High School and was awarded a scholarship for winning the Petersen Bowling Classic. He became an avid fisherman who loved his summer home on Crooked Lake in Michigan.
Jacob-Leicht said one of the things her father enjoyed most was seeing his railroad buddies at functions. She added how he was proud of being a veteran.
“He had a heart of gold and was willing to help any person or animal in need,” Jacob-Leicht said. “He always had a smile on his face and a sweet disposition.”
In addition to his daughter and wife of 55 years, he leaves behind sons Charlie Jr. and Anthony, a former Belt switchman, as well as seven grandchildren, and one great grandchild.