Marion Jacobs: A take charge lover of life and people

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By Clara Beard | LB Indy, with contributions from residents

One could describe Laguna Beach’s residents as a multi-layered quilt comprised of diverse and unique people. Many of these are gifted individuals who have made noteworthy accomplishments in their professional lives and kindly share their talents to help make our town a better place to live. 

Marion Jacobs. Photo courtesy of James Vaughn

Marion Jacobs was one of those people. 

Rather than grieve her recent passing in December 2023, her loved ones have chosen to celebrate her achievements and the extraordinary connections she made with so many locally.

Marion Kramer Jacobs was a clinical psychologist and university professor. Well respected by her peers for serving 19 years as coordinator of UCLA’s Psychology Clinic and co-director of the California Self-Help Center at UCLA, her private practice in Laguna Beach enabled her to help countless people successfully handle change. 

She believed life is not for squandering mental ‘dress rehearsals,’ and now is the time to move forward. Her contributions to many local groups and organizations enabled Jacobs to reach even larger numbers of residents and leave Laguna Beach better for having her live here.

Originally from New York, Jacobs arrived in Laguna Beach in 1991. She enthusiastically joined the Temple Hills Community Association, where she lived and became an active member of Laguna Canyon Conservancy to support the preservation of open space. 

When the devastating 1993 fire swept through town, and hundreds of residents lost their homes and all their belongings, Jacobs immediately stepped up to offer counseling to victims. She was able to help them manage the anxiety and shock such an unexpected life challenge brings.

Jacobs then volunteered to serve on the Laguna Community Clinic Board of Directors for many years. 

Marion Jacobs in her garden. Photo courtesy of James Vaughn

Doctor Tom Bent called Jacobs a respected colleague and dear friend. 

“We met when she joined the board of Laguna Beach Community Clinic, where her insights and participation energized everyone,” Bent said. “During that time, she and I wrote a major grant for the Clinic focusing on a holistic approach to pain management. We presented our project and findings at a national meeting in Chicago and at the annual California Academy of Family Physicians conference.”

Bent went on to say that Jacobs accepted patient referrals to her private practice, charging little or no fees to LBCC patients. She brought comfort and support to the mutual patients and enhanced their lives.

“Marion enhanced my life as well,” Bent said. “Through our work at the Clinic, we became great friends. Always honest and direct, she was also kind, warm, and wickedly funny. After every meeting with Marion, whether professional or social, I always felt smarter, a bit more informed, and valued. She brought out the best in everyone she knew. I miss her terribly and am grateful for the time we had together.”

Jacobs was also a stalwart supporter of women’s issues and a contributing member of the Woman’s Club of Laguna Beach, American Association of University Women-Laguna Beach (AAUW) and the Laguna Seniors at the Susi Q. Her many donated seminars, presentations and guidance on subjects like meditation and choosing action over inaction to have a better life will be sorely missed.

“In addition to all the weighty and very important positions she held, she loved the fun in life,” remembers Madeleine Peterson, vice president of the AAUW and the Laguna Greenbelt. “She was an official ‘Skipper’ for the Oasis Sailing Club in Corona del Mar. Marion loved being out on the water and had sailed many of the seas and oceans of the world and had many wild stories to tell. To me, whether it was sailing or walking the trails at Top of the World with our dogs, she was a wonderful mentor and friend.”

With her fun-loving nature and wry sense of humor, Jacobs was always on the go to participate in some adventure, be it travel, exercise, sailing, or the arts, and included performing in a couple of the Lagunatics productions with the No Square Theater group. 

That experience gave Jacobs a title for a book she was writing: “Take Charge Living-How to Recast Your Role in Life…In Six Acts.”

“My relationship with Marion was purely personal. We met through dogs and then enjoyed sharing food and wine together with our husbands. I admired Marion for her self-discipline and never-ending drive for enrichment and knowledge. I strive to follow her with baby steps,” friend Kathy Wilman said.

It was crushing news to those who knew and loved Jacobs when, late last year, she shared that pancreatic cancer had struck her. She lived only three months after learning the diagnosis before it took this truly caring and generous Lagunatic from her friends, family and community. 

Those who knew Jacobs said she lived a life she fully controlled and had given as much as she could to those around her. 

“I remember her tireless work on the concept of Healthy Laguna, examining all the elements that make up a healthy village or town, the medical, psychological and spiritual elements to our sense of well-being,” friend Pamela Horowitz Lawrence said.

Former Laguna Beach Mayor and Councilmember Toni Iseman interacted with Jacobs both personally and professionally. Iseman said Jacobs followed her commitment to her values, drawing on all of her intellectual and emotional resources to enhance the lives of the clients and projects she served.

Sincere sympathies are sent to her life partner, James Vaughn and all her family and friends.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Condolences first off to all of Marion’s friends and family.
    Marion is sorely missed. She had a heart of gold; sharp wit and intelligent mind, and was always willing to help those she knew. But that didn’t keep her from expressing her views or observations. If she disagreed with you about something, she let you know, but in ways that weren’t divisive or hurtful: Marion was just plain honest. I haven’t seen Marion for seven years after my move, but we kept in touch and I never felt our friendship faded.

  2. Thanks for your eulogy celebrating Dr. Marion Jacobs. Marion actually arrived in Laguna around 1973 and had a home at the end of Glenneyre. She was my dearest friend for 50 years. We were colleagues at UC Irvine pioneering programs to help
    Viet Nam Vets facing insurmountable challenges financially and, too often, psychologically, to gain a university education. Marion taught a cadre of young staff, like me, the many ways psychology, especially client centered therapy, can be a powerful tool to help those in need. We often sailed with Marion and her dog on her slick 42′-foot Kalik to Catalina or along Laguna. So nice of you to remind Laguna of such a wonderful unique person and a gift for our community.

  3. Mike: Thanks so much for adding to the celebration of Marion’s life by adding your voice and potent memories. So many of us who haven ‘t met each other are united in mourning the loss of this special woman who touched our lives with her brilliance and passion for living life fully.

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