302-478-7100 Wilmington & Hockessin, DE

Dr. Emmett Smith Jacobs

Dr. Emmett Smith Jacobs of Wilmington, DE and recently of Maris Grove, Glen Mills, PA passed away peacefully in his sleep on December 21, 2018 at the age of 92.

He was born March 17, 1926 in Selma, NC to Emma Smith and Charles Jacobs. Charles Jacobs ancestors were from the eight million German immigrants that came to the American Midwest between 1820and 1870. Emma Smith’s family were of the 200 founding families of Virginia including some descent from the real Pocahontas.  Emmett grew up in Chapel Hill, NC and Lynchburg, VA where his father was head of regional railroad that later became part of Southern Railway. Emmett worked summers on railroad jobs, played sports, and became an Eagle Scout.   He enlisted in the Army Air Force at 18 and received his pilot wings at Brooks Field, San Antonio. He was in further training as a B24 pilot in Pennsacola, FL for additional bombardier and navigation capabilities when WWII ended.  He obtained a release and hitchhiked to the Dean’s office of University of NC where he asked to immediately start college the very week that Japan  formally signed surrender.  He graduated in 1949 as a chemist and went to work for Allied Chem and Die in Petersburg, VA   where he met Ann Buck, a school teacher whom he married in 1952.  They moved to Bethlehem, PA where he taught chemistry and completed his Ph.D. in chemistry at Lehigh University.  He also did post-doctoral work in chemistry at M.I.T.  While at Lehigh he and Ann had their son, Allen, whom they were proud to say was born in Bethlehem. They moved to Wilmington, DE in 1957 where Emmett began work for DuPont at Chambers Works where he became a director in the Petroleum Laboratory and in 1982 went to the Experimental station. He retired in 1985 and continued as a consultant to DuPont for several years.

Emmett loved playing sports and was a varsity athlete on the UNC championship tennis team where he played alongside future pros. He continued playing tennis at the DuPont Country Club. He was a varsity athlete in graduate school for Lehigh in wrestling- when they were a perennial contender for the national title. Gardening was a lifelong passion and he took all the botanical and horticulture classes and Longwood Gardens and Mt Cuba. He enjoyed guiding at Mt Cuba and teaching about the plants. His home garden was on Wilmington Garden Day several years and illustrated in Better Homes and Gardens in 2004. He ultimately lectured and taught seminars on Horticulture.  He was a family man and enjoyed summer vacations at Avalon, NJ.    But he also enjoyed entertaining with his wife and having many garden parties showing off his garden.

Emmett was active in church and charities.  At Concord Presbyterian, he actively served on Session, Deacons and Trustees.  He was instrumental in planning and fundraising for the Brandywine YMCA.  As a member at Westminster Presbyterian Church , he and minister Jim Bennett started the Saturday Breakfast program of feeding the homeless or needy a sit-down served meal which he ran for over 20 years coordinating the meals and volunteers including many from church and schools serving over 200 regularly and as many as 300 each Saturday.

He is survived by his wife Ann of 66 years of marriage, his daughter Jean Jacobs Custin(with husband Robert), son Emmett Allen Jacobs(with wife Alena), and grandchildren Alexander Buck Jacobs, Virginia Leigh Jacobs, Oleksii Emmett Jacobs and Andrew Emmett Jacobs.  He was predeceased by his twin brother, William Jacobs, and brother Charles Jacobs.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Westminster Presbyterian Church or Willow Tree Hospice.

Funeral Services

A memorial service will be held at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1502 West 13th Street, Wilmington, DE on Saturday, January 12 at 11:00 am followed by a reception at church.


    Jane Jones writes,
    Deepest sympathy to the family of Emmett Smith Jacobs.
    01/05/2019 11:28 pm
    Jim Conte writes,
    Dear Jean and Family Sorry I was not able to attend Emmett's services yesterday. Went to the doctors due to severe flu like symptoms and felt it better to stay away rather than spread the misery. Best regards to all. Jim Conte
    01/13/2019 01:57 pm

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