INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Former U.S. Rep. Andy Jacobs Jr. drove a 1979 Oldsmobile Omega long after the disco era had ended and he once rejected a color television for his office, saying, “I know of no good reason to view Tip O’Neill in living color,” those who knew him recalled Friday.
Family and friends, including many Indiana lawmakers who worked with or came up under Jacobs, remembered the longtime Democratic congressman for his integrity, humility and his frugality during at a memorial service in the Statehouse Rotunda.
“God bless you, Andy Jacobs. Your principled leadership and personal kindness, your service to the public of Indiana and America every day will be missed,” Gov. Mike Pence said of Jacobs, who died last week at age 81.
Before the service, mourners filed past the flag-draped casket of the former Marine, who had fought in the Korean War.
Jacobs represented Indianapolis in Congress from 1965-73 and again from 1975-97. The Democratic lawmaker had a hand in crafting the 1965 Voting Rights Act and opposed the Vietnam War.
With his third wife, Kim Jacobs, seated in the front row, the couple’s two sons, Steven and Andy Jacobs, regaled well-wishers with stories of their father’s frugality at home. Former congressional staffers, meanwhile, talked about how he brought his penny-pinching ways to Capitol Hill.
Jacobs turned down many congressional pay raises, and Pence recalled the time when Jacobs rejected the color television for his Capitol office.
Andy Jacobs spoke of his father picking him and his brother up from school in the old 1979 Oldsmobile Omega he drove around.
“My brother and I are probably among the few members of our generation who understand this gesture,” he said, motioning to roll down the window. He noted that his father kept a hedge trimmer in the back of the car, and whenever he’d see a sign obscured by branches, he would stop to trim them.
Many of Indiana’s top Republicans attended the funeral, including Pence, former Gov. Mitch Daniels, House Speaker Brian Bosma, Senate President Pro Tem David Long and others. Elder statesmen of Indiana politics, including former U.S. Sen. Birch Bayh and former Indianapolis Mayor William Hudnut, had their condolences read in their absence.
But the rotunda was mostly packed with Democrats, including many who had either worked for Jacobs or been mentored by him.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Andre Carson, whose grandmother worked in Jacobs’ district office and who later won the Indianapolis seat after Jacobs retired, recalled growing up around Jacobs, whom he called his “Obi-Wan Kenobi.”
“If I can be a quarter of the man Andy Jacobs was to me, I think I’ll be ok,” Carson said.