Real estate executive Donald Jacobson was among the first to respond when press agent Charlie Cinnamon asked pal Elizabeth Taylor to host a $2,500 a person fundraiser in Miami for the American Foundation for AIDS Research (AMfar). The 1988 event raised $2.5 million in one night.
A decade later, Jacobson and his wife, Lola, along with South Beach Wine & Food Festival founder Lee Brian Schrager, brought R&B star Patti LaBelle to Miami to help raise $325,000 for Health Crisis Network, a Miami-Dade AIDS service organization now known as Care Resource.
Few charitable opportunities escaped Jacobson, the president of South Florida’s Jacobson Toccin Properties. The philanthropist died at 92 in Bal Harbour on Friday, one day after Cinnamon died at 94 in Coconut Grove.
Schrager, a friend to both, reminisced on Monday.
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“Donald was married for 68 years to one of my closest and dearest friends, Lola. He was one of the most generous men I have ever met in my life, had a nice word for everyone and treated everyone the same — did not care about your status or position,” he said.
“Whatever his Queen Lola wanted to support, DJ was the first to write a check, and did not care about his name in the paper or up in lights,” Schrager said. “When I did the first AMfar event with Charlie and Liz back in the late ’80s, Donald and Lola were one of the first to sign up — and the same when I asked them to host the Health Crisis Network event. Class act and all-around great mensch.”
There’s a saying that goes, ‘Everybody dies, not everybody truly lives.’ Well, my grandfather truly lived and knew how to live the best.
Granddaughter Marisa Toccin Lucas’ eulogy at Donald Jacobson’s service
Along the way, the Boston-born Jacobson, a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division during World War II who was awarded the Purple Heart, served as a founder and society member at Mount Sinai Medical Center, a founder at Baptist Health South Florida and supporter of its Miami Cancer Institute. He also supported the Jackson Memorial Foundation and the University of Miami’s Diabetes Research Institute and Project Newborn at Holtz Children’s Hospital at Jackson.
“Donald Jacobson and his family have been strong supporters of the University of Miami Health System neonatal program and the Project Newborn neonatal intensive care unit at Holtz Children’s Hospital at Jackson Memorial Health System for more than 40 years,” said Eduardo Bancalari, director of neonatology at the University of Miami Health System. “Donald’s generosity changed our community, helping us to heal hundreds, if not thousands, of the most vulnerable newborns who now live healthy lives with their families, and supported research to prevent prematurity, shorten hospital stays and find cures for neonatal diseases. Project Newborn will forever be indebted to Donald Jacobson.”
Don was a wonderful and generous individual. He and his wife Lola were great supporters of Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute. They truly appreciated the vision of bringing world class cardiovascular care to our South Florida community.
Dr. Barry T. Katzen, founder and chief medical executive, Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute
Joshua Rednik, president and CEO of the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation, added: “All of us at the Diabetes Research Institute and Foundation mourn the passing of Donald Jacobson, who was a longtime supporter of the organization and one of the community’s most generous philanthropists. Donald leaves an indelible mark on the philanthropic world and will be deeply missed by his family, friends and all who knew him.”
Granddaughter Marisa Toccin Lucas believes that lifetime of giving will be how her sports-loving grandfather is remembered. “I am most proud of the legacy he leaves behind, the countless organizations he supported and even more amazingly the people he has quietly helped.”
Jacobson is survived by his wife Lola; children Ferne Toccin and Peter Jacobson; and seven grandchildren. Services were held.