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Remembering Irwin Jacobs

Despite that I spent the better part of three days interviewing and shadowing Irwin Jacobs for a Powerboat magazine feature in the early 2000s, I didn’t really know him. For an extended weekend at his home-base in Minneapolis, I asked Jacobs, then the head of Genmar Holdings, LLC—the parent company of Wellcraft, Ranger, Scarab, Hatteras Yachts, Glastron, Larson, Lund and more—a whole lot of questions and followed him around. But knowing a person takes much more than that.

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From his devout belief in a bass-fishing circuit to his utter contempt for personal watercraft, the former Genmar Holdings head was a larger-than-life marine industry figure. Photo courtesy/copyright Jeff Helmkamp/Helmkamp Photos.

Jacobs died horrifically and tragically last week. He reportedly took his own life after killing his wife, Alexandra, of many years. Mrs. Jacobs reportedly had significant health issues and the crime has been labeled a murder-suicide involving firearms. Mr. Jacobs was 77 years old.

A heavy-hitter on Wall Street in the 1980s who became of the wealthiest men in the country—from 1986 to 1988 he was on the Forbes 400 Richest Americans list and at one time he was a minority owner of the Minnesota Vikings NFL franchise—Jacobs towered over me. And I’m six feet tall. That, plus his widespread reputation for having a short fuse and not a whole lot of use for reporters, made me nervous.

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