In Memoriam: John P. Jacobus


by Sandy Perle

John P. Jacobus (75), of Bowie, Maryland, suffered a fall and complications leading to his death on 7 August 2023.

I was saddened and disheartened to hear of John's passing. I had known John for 30+ years, going back to the early days on the Radsafe Listserver, where John continually provided technical assistance and commentary on radiological topics supporting the industry that he truly loved. More recently, John's comments could be found on the AMSRO (Academic and Medical RSO) listserver, always to the point, providing pertinent information based on his superior knowledge of the entire industry, be it power reactor, medical physics, instrumentation and detection, and regulatory interpretations, just to name a few specialties.

I was scheduled to give a presentation at the recent 68th Health Physics Society (HPS) Annual Meeting being held in National Harbor, Maryland, on 25 July 2023. On the night of the 24th I received an email from John stating that he was in the hospital and would not be attending due to a fall that day while walking his dog, a freak accident. He apologized for not being able to attend and see me and converse since we hadn't seen each other in person since the last meeting we both attended together, the Bethesda, Maryland, midyear meeting in January–February 2020. I told John not to worry, that I was presenting virtually and that we would get together another time, and that he should focus on his recovery. He wrote back on the 26th saying that he was planning on going home that day. As Facebook friends, John posted nearly every day his favorite comic strip, Shoe Comics, which he posted up until the 26th.

During our initial days on Radsafe, John and I seemed to be antagonistic towards each other. Years later, I can't remember why—probably due to our intense personalities, our strong wills, our being outgoing, and taking on serious topics for discussion, probably more of a debate than anything else. When John and I met in person, at National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements and/or HPS meetings, we became the closest of friends and, as mentioned above, continued to communicate at meetings and via email as well as social media. John was funny, had a keen wit and great sense of humor, and was gregarious and always willing to help others.

After I retired from Mirion Technologies in early 2014, I was asked to consult with the company on a new technology and dosimeter and was asked to initiate an advisory board. Having been in the industry since 1970 and an HPS member since 1973, I knew a lot of the best in the Society. The board was made up of six PhDs and John. I asked John to sit on the board again based on his vast technical knowledge but, more importantly, his practical working knowledge in the industry. John knew how to make things happen—not just write about it, but develop and implement, which is essential when developing a new product that meets both the manufacturer's expectations as well the end-customer's expectations. The bottom line—if you want to be successful in any endeavor, get John involved!

John began his career in health physics as a commissioned officer in the US Navy after receiving master of science degrees from Pennsylvania State University in 1973 and in 1976. During his naval career, he served on submarine repair ships based in Charleston, South Carolina, and in Guam when deployments were made to Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean and to the Philippines. Other assignments included the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, and as the radiation safety officer for both the Naval Hospital in Charleston, South Carolina, and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Following retirement as a lieutenant commander in 1994, John worked as the junior medical physicist at a private hospital in Dallas, Texas. He joined the staff of the currently named Division of Radiation Safety at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, in 1995.

After 21 years, he retired at the end of April 2016. For over 10 years, John was the topic editor for the Medical and Dental Patient Issues area of the Ask the Experts feature on the HPS website. In 2000, he was certified by the American Board of Health Physics and maintains his certification. He was selected a fellow of the HPS in 2004 and is an emeritus member of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine.

John is survived by his wife of 53 years, Patty, and their three children, Lisa, Paul and Julie, and grandchildren Karter and Winter.

An active person, John loved chess, murder mysteries, gardens, and animals, especially his dog Molly. He was a 100-gallon blood donor and he and his wife rescued ferrets for many years.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to Humane Rescue Alliance 71 Oglethorpe St. NW, Washington, DC 20011 or ALSAC/St. Jude Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, Tennessee 38105

I will surely miss John's wit and good nature. God speed my friend.