St. Louis Cremation

Thomas W. Jacobsen

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Thomas W. Jacobsen, 81, died peacefully on Sunday, January 15th in his home, with family by his side.

Tom loved baseball, jazz, and archaeology, though not necessarily in that order. He turned two of those loves into vocations to which he made serious contributions and received significant recognition. The third, baseball, remained simply a lifelong tortured passion about which he just knew too much. Add to his list of loves a complicated and growing family that he cherished and supported unconditionally, a commitment to big and little D democratic principles, and a desire to laugh, and you have a rough outline of a life lived fully, adventurously, and intentionally.

Born on March 18, 1935 in Mankato, Minnesota, Tom was raised and educated in Minnesota. After earning a BA in political science from St. Olaf College and an MA in classics from the University of Minnesota, Tom eventually moved to Philadelphia where he received his Ph.D in classical archaeology from the University of Pennsylvania. It was here that he also cemented his lifelong passion for the Philadelphia Phillies, begun in his youth.  

Tom spent his career in higher education, including 26 years on the faculty of Indiana University (Bloomington) where he was a beloved mentor, friend, and colleague to many. He devoted his scholarly efforts to the study of prehistoric archaeology in Greece and the Aegean Basin. To that end, he worked in Greece for some 35 years, including 25 years as director of the excavations at the important site of Franchthi Cave. He authored dozens of publications on this work and served as general editor of the multi-volume series Excavations at Franchthi Cave, Greece.

Upon his retirement from Indiana University in 1992, Tom moved to New Orleans where he lived for a quarter century and developed a second career as a jazz writer. He had been devoted to jazz music since his teenage years when he played the clarinet and saxophone, and listened to the broadcasts of the New Orleans Jazz Club over the powerful Crescent City radio station WWL. While living in New Orleans he became deeply involved in the local music scene, devoted to the music and musicians of his adopted home. He published extensively on New Orleans jazz, having authored three books on the subject and serving as columnist and contributor to numerous periodicals.

Tom and his wife Sharyn moved to St. Louis in September, 2014 to be near family as his health declined. He was a generous and loving husband, father, grandfather, and friend whose support and love were unwavering. He had a wonderful sense of humor and could always make us laugh. He kept his wry wit, wisdom, and humor to the end. He will be missed tremendously.

Tom was predeceased by his parents, Effie and Maurice Jacobsen, and his first wife, Kathryn (Katie) Jacobsen. He is survived by his wife of 20 years, Sharyn Jacobsen, her daughter, Deborah, and their grandson Diego; his son, Mark Jacobsen (Teri) and grandchildren, Kate and Sarah; daughter Kirsten Jacobsen (Rick), and grandchildren Sam, and Eliza; his son Chuck Freeland (Cheri) and grandchildren Brett, Matthew, and Heather.

There will not be a public service in St. Louis, though a memorial service is being planned in New Orleans at a date later this spring. Memorial donations may be made to the Southern Poverty Law Center, The New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic, or Habitat for Humanity.




  1. John Shoup on January 19, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    RIP Sir Thomas

    First Nat, now you. Sad for jazz…

  2. Russ Tarby on January 19, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    Tom was a tireless chronicler of New Orleans jazz, which he followed religiously for more than 60 years. We’ll all miss his expert analysis of the forces that affect Crescent City styles and the sheer joy that he brought to the music.

  3. Eddie Bayard on January 21, 2017 at 10:16 am

    Tom was a very good friend of mine and a great writer always interested in jazz musicians and their careers .He has written about many of our local musicians here in New Orleans and around the world.
    He will be missed by many.
    Tom recently published his 3rd book on New Orleans Jazz musicians and I am proud to have been included in all 3 books.
    Eddie Bayard/musician

  4. Letita Lovette on January 21, 2017 at 10:32 am

    My thoughts and prayers are with the Jacobsen family during this very difficult time. May you find comfort in your loving memories of him and God’s promise at John 5:28,29 which says that we have the hope of seeing our love ones again.

  5. David Hansen on January 21, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    My condolences to Tom’s family and friends. Tom was a gentleman and true jazz aficionado. My encounters with Tom were always enjoyable. We’ll miss you Tom.

  6. John C. Lavezzi on January 22, 2017 at 3:49 pm

    The world of Aegean prehistory has lost one of its greats. Tom and I first crossed paths more than 45 years ago in Athens, where he was a strong and vibrant presence at the ASCSA. He was a gracious host in Nauplion where after an intense session studying Franchthi pottery I nearly fainted on him. He shall be missed but remembered.

  7. John Doheny on January 23, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    God bless you and keep you Tom. You were not just a good friend to jazz, you were so much more. You were there for me in my darkest hours. I’ll never forget that.

    Much love,
    John Doheny

  8. Antigone Laskarides on January 23, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    On behalf of the simple people of Southern Argolida-Greece I would like to express our deepest sympathy and our great gratitude for all the years he dedicated to reveal our History. He will never be forgotten.

  9. Dave Eater on February 26, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    From all Tom’s friends at, our deepest sympathies at his passing. Tom was a voice of reason and wisdom to his fellow Phillies fans, who we will all miss greatly. Know that all you you, his family and friends, are in our thoughts and prayers.

  10. David Wren on March 29, 2017 at 8:49 am

    I am so sorry to hear of Tom’s passing. All those bowling and golf games in the eighties and nineties, all those jokes…

    My condolences to Sharyn and the entire family.


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