Distinguished Citizen Award

Mary Virginia Jacobs, 74, and Claud Jacobs, 76, pose outside the Club at the Colony Creek golf course. They are the recipients of the Distinguished Citizen Award from the South Texas Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

When he thinks of the spirit of volunteerism, Victoria resident David McLarry sees a couple whose philanthropy spans 50 years.

Claud and Mary Virginia Jacobs were named 2018 Distinguished Citizen Award recipients by the Boy Scouts of America South Texas Council and will be honored Oct. 18 with a reception and dinner.

“They are just great people. They have seen this as an opportunity not to put the spotlight on them, but as an opportunity to motivate others to follow their lead,” said McLarry, who is committee chairman for the Distinguished Citizen Award reception and dinner. “They haven’t just stopped with one event or one cause, they’ve been active either visibly or behind the scenes in those kinds of activities.”

The Jacobses, who have been married for 54 years, have two children and two grandchildren and have been involved in community service and charitable efforts in the Victoria and Yoakum communities.

“We are honored, but a little overwhelmed,” said Mary Virginia Jacobs. “It’s because we know there are umpteen people in Victoria who give up their time and their money to different organization.”

The award, in its 18th biennial cycle, is a fundraising opportunity for the South Texas Council of the Boy Scouts that recognizes people who have made a positive impact on the community for their service, McLarry said.

The Jacobses’ vision is their standout quality, McLarry said. Examples include their work with the Bluebonnet Youth Ranch and the University of Houston-Victoria.

Claud Jacobs is one of the original founders of Bluebonnet Youth Ranch, McLarry said.

“They recognized the need for neglected children and started small, but had vision to see that grow into what it is today, which has impacted many, many lives,” he said. “Claud and Mary Virginia have been the backbone for fundraising for that organization through the annual gold tournament and charity concert.”

The Jacobses also support higher education, said University of Houston-Victoria Athletics Director Ashley Walyuchow, who has known them for about 20 years.

“I can’t think of a more deserving couple for this award with everything they’ve done and continue to do,” Walyuchow said about how they support UHV and Victoria College. “He gives his heart, his time and charitable support to the things he believes in that will help better this community.”

The Jacobses established the first baseball and golf scholarships at the university. The Claud Jacobs Invitational, a golf tournament, helps raise money to send the golf teams to the PGA Minority Championship, Walyuchow said.

It is not about the accolades and recognition for the couple, Walyuchow said.

“My sense is they believe it’s their civic duty to help make Victoria better,” he said. “Higher education, nursing and athletics are near and dear to their hearts.”

The couple are well respected by all who know them, UHV president Bob Glenn said in a written statement.

“It also is clear that Claud and Mary Virginia love the University of Houston-Victoria and have gone above and beyond to not only show their support, but also rally support for this institution,” Glenn said. “We are extremely grateful to have them as part of our UHV family.”

Claud Jacobs, who is a partner at Lodestone Financial Services, founded the Bluebonnet Youth Ranch, a nonprofit organization that serves as a long-term, residential home for dependent, abused and neglected children, with other Yoakum businessmen 50 years ago.

A major fundraiser for the facility is the annual Pro-Am Celebrity Golf Tournament, which is in its 37th year, Jacobs said.

Before the tournament began, it started as an event where people would donate money for Jacobs to walk half-mile laps, he said. He walked 35 miles over 24 hours. The following year, the golf tournament began with seven pros and 21 amateurs at a 9-hole golf course in Yoakum. Now, the tournament takes place over two days and has 380 players and celebrities.

Jacobs was born and raised in Yoakum. His father, who owned a drug store and worked from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., told him to help neighbors in the community when he was 10.

“You get out of life what you put in it,” Jacobs said, recalling what his father taught him. “The more you get involved, the more you get back.”

At the age of 12, his mother died, he said.

“So many people took interest in me and half raised me,” he said. “That’s when I saw for the first time volunteerism in a small community.”

At age 6, Mary Virginia Jacobs walked with her mother at the March for Dimes in their community, she said, which was her first volunteer experience. She has since continued to volunteer.

She volunteered at Christ’s Kitchen, but a back surgery forced Jacobs to look for other ways to help the community, she said. She searched for other places to volunteer and ended up at the Food Bank of the Golden Crescent, where she has helped with the backpack program.

Jacobs has a vocation and teaching background in nursing in the Victoria and Yoakum community, McLarry said.

“She has real heart for that profession,” he said.

The couple said the hallmark of a distinguished citizen is someone who encourages volunteerism.

“What would happen in a community if everyone volunteered one hour a week to something? Cities would be absolutely incredible,” Claud Jacobs said. “There’s always a cause.”

Gabriella Canales reports on education for the Victoria Advocate. She may be reached at gcanales@vicad.com or 361-580-6578.

Education reporter

Gabriella Canales graduated from the University of Houston-Victoria with a B.A. in English in 2016. Feel free to contact her with ideas because she is eager to tell stories.