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Jacobs Jr. and wife honored as Philanthropists of the Year
Gainesville media pioneer and spouse recognized at Community Foundation banquet
John W. Jacobs Jr. and wife Martha Jacobs, right, greet Amanda Griffin Tuesday morning during the North Georgia Community Foundation annual Philanthropist of the Year luncheon at the First Baptist Church banquet hall. The couple were being honored at the annual event.

Local media giant John W. Jacobs Jr. and his wife, Martha, were honored Tuesday as 2010 Philanthropists of the Year.

The recognition took place in a banquet sponsored by the Gainesville-based North Georgia Community Foundation in the banquet hall at First Baptist Church on Green Street.

Jim Mathis Jr., the foundation's president and CEO, presented the couple, married since 1958, with a glass tree, an emblem depicted in the group's logo.

"We are here to honor them, as well as what they have done, in and around the community," said John Burd, former president of Brenau University.

John Jacobs serves on Brenau's board of trustees. The school's mass communications and business building is named after him.

"When I first learned of the recognition (concerning philanthropy), I told Martha ... that evidently the committee did not look at our bank account," he told the nearly 300 people attending the event.

"We want to thank everyone who made the nomination ... and to all of those who are here for us today," Jacobs said, standing with Martha.

Jacobs was among a group that founded WDUN radio. He also brought cable television, then just a conduit for receiving out-of-town broadcast stations, to Gainesville.

He eventually acquired WGGA, the city's oldest radio station, and serves as chairman in the family-run business, Jacobs Media.

Photos of the Jacobses flashed on two screens in the church's vast banquet room during the program, which began with a lunch of chicken and vegetables.

Don Pirkle, the foundation's investment chairman, spoke to the audience about philanthropy. The foundation, founded in 1985, has recognized area charitable residents since 2005.

Helen Ray, a foundation board member, talked about the romance and marriage of the couple, pulling passages from John Jacobs' book, "The Longer You Live."

"What a privilege ... and a pleasure it is to be part of this celebration with you," she said.

"What an honor it's been to be your friend at Grace (Episcopal) Church, at Brenau, in the community. ... Thank you for all that you have done for all of us and for your wonderful family."