(WWLP) – Longtime Former WWLP-TV Sports Director and western Massachusetts broadcast legend Rollie Jacobs passed away in Holyoke Wednesday night.
A registered nurse at Loomis Retirement community told 22News that Rollie died with many family members by his bedside. “It was very peaceful,” said nurse Samuel Njenga.
Rollie’s eldest daughter, Patricia Voyer confirmed to 22News that her father had had multiple health issues the last couple of years, and moved in to Loomis Retirement Community in mid-June to be with Ellie, his wife of 62 years. Eleanor had fallen on the ice and had a stroke last January, according to Voyer.
“Mom and dad were like one,” Voyer said.
Even though he started three years after 22News went on the air in 1953, Rollie Jacobs was 22News’ first sports caster, and subsequently the News Operation’s Sports Director, a position he held until his retirement in 1984.
Voyer told 22News that her dad had had a rough childhood and felt like sports saved him. “It was his passion,” said Voyer. “He had a passion for people, especially kids. He loved that he had the opportunity to be active in the community doing something he loved.
Rollie was an avid golfer. His passion for sports casting was evident in his reporting on high school and college hockey. Rollie was the track announcer at the old Riverside Park Speedway in Agawam for 35 years.
This reporter can confirm that Rolland “Rollie” Jacobs was universally well-liked and trusted by everyone he worked with and came in contact with. He was a true gentleman. One of his former co-workers, Erica Broman described Rollie as “a true prince in every sense of that word.”
Funeral arrangements will be private, but Patricia Voyer said there will be a memorial held in August at Firtion Adams Funeral home in Westfield.
The family is establishing a Rollie Jacobs Memorial Scholarship Fund. She told 22News she will urge people to donate to that scholarship fund in lieu of flowers. Details on the August memorial and scholarship fund will be released at a later time.
Rollie Jacobs was 86 years old.