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Hundreds gather to honor late San Diego philanthropist Joan Jacobs

A Celebration of Life was held for the late Joan Jacobs today. KPBS Reporter Melissa Mae shares what people said about the beloved matriarch of the Jacobs family.

Joan Jacobs was a champion for the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park. The day after Mother’s Day, hundreds of community members gathered at the venue to celebrate the Jacobs family matriarch's life. She died on May 6 at the age of 91.

Granddaughter Jess Jacobs told the gathered crowd her grandmother’s passion for the arts influenced her to pursue a career as an artist.

"I learned to see the world through Joan’s eyes. Which meant seeing an understanding through the lens of art and culture," Jess said.  


Along with the Rady Shell, the Jacobs family had donated millions of dollars to San Diego nonprofits including the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the La Jolla Playhouse and San Diego Symphony. The Playhouse and Symphony are each dedicating their 2024-25 seasons to Jacobs.

San Diego Padres Executive Vice President Tom Seidler attended the celebration of of life. He said the Jacobs family are tremendous leaders in the San Diego community.

"They just set a high bar for how to lead in San Diego and give back to the community and so we’ve been fortunate to try to follow their lead and help make San Diego the best version of itself," Seidler said.