Written by Joe Scotchie Friday, 20 May 2011 00:00
Famed Photographer, Dies
One of the great patriots of modern-day Roslyn has passed away.
On Wednesday, May 11, Raymond Jacobs, a longtime resident of Roslyn Heights, passed away at age 92.
Jacobs was known throughout the Roslyn area as a prolific photographer, a man who kept the old Roslyn alive for future generations through a large portfolio of vivid photos of local landmarks and establishments.
For many years, Jacobs had his own photography shop, Roslyn Heights Studio, where his photography chronicled the history of Roslyn and its people. He was also an active member of the Roslyn Landmark Society. Indeed, it is impossible to go anywhere in Roslyn and not see examples of his work. Recently, for instance, The Roslyn News published an article on a change of ownership at The Pizza Pub, a longtime establishment on Warner Avenue in Roslyn Heights. The walls of this popular eatery were full of Jacobs’s photography, including schools, churches, grocery stores, Little League teams, firehouses, a flood that hit Roslyn in 1933, plus such long-lost establishments as the Rendezvous Hotel, and even a photo of The Roslyn News, circa 1906, when it occupied a building across from The Clock Tower.
Jacobs’s photography was included in a recent book on Roslyn, Roslyn Restored by Ellen Russell, a tribute to Roger and Peggy Gerry, which was published in 2004. He attended a gala Roslyn High School reunion, one held in 2000, where he upheld the banner for the Roslyn High School Class of 1937. Last year, Myrna Sloam, longtime director of the Bryant Library Bryant Room Archives, publicly thanked Ray for all the valuable work he had done to keep Roslyn’s history alive.
“No thank you would be complete without acknowledging the continued support of…Ray Jacobs,” Ms. Sloam wrote in the winter of 2010. “Through the years, Ray has generously contributed innumerable photos and provided valuable information to the Bryant Library’s Local History Collection. His most recent donations were photos of the former Bull’s Head Hotel on Northern Boulevard.”
According to local author and historian, Howard Kroplick, Ray loved old cars and he frequently visited the Waterfront at Roslyn to inspect the latest models. Ray’s love of cars may have been inherited from his father who was once employed by Clarence Mackay as a chauffeur at the Harbor Hill estates. One of Ray’s favorite cars was the legendary Black Beast, the famed racing car from the popular races that took place on Long Island at the turn of the century. The Black Beast, Ray joked, was a vehicle “older than me!” In 2009, at the Vanderbilt Centennial Celebration, Ray became the oldest person to ever give the “thumbs up” in the car.
“Ray was always one of the first to participate in events celebrating Roslyn’s history,” Kroplick correctly noted. Kroplick also gave some history on the Jacobs family, noting that Ray’s father built one of the first service stations in Roslyn, an establishment that was later upgraded by Ray himself.
After his death, numerous local residents responded by posting fond memories of Ray on Kroplick’s website.
“Ray will long be remembered through his photos,” noted another longtime Roslynite, Guy Frost. “I hope the Bryant Library was the recipient of these [photos].”
“Ray and I shared an interest in Panoramic Photography,” added Bob Lang. “Over the last 25 years we got together often to take photos and just have fun. Ray always had those wonderful stories to tell and you never left him without a smile. He was just a great guy!”
“I was saddened to learn of Ray Jacobs’s death,” wrote Jack B. “He was a wonderful gentleman. I met him at his studio a few years ago to ask him of any details he remembered of a photograph he had taken about 50 years ago. At that time he talked about disposing of his collection of wonderful historic cameras. He was a giant in the field.”
“I knew Ray for many years,” recalled Orin F. “I used to bring to his Roslyn Heights Studio, my old books and magazines and he would make blow up photos of the vintage mansion photos for my collection. He would always tell me stories of his travels in the world, with photos, and his life as a boy.”
Also commenting on his passing was former Roslyn mayor, Janet Galante.
“Having known Ray Jacobs for over 20 years, I always found him to be a vibrant, lively, informative member of the Roslyn community. His stories were always filled with the living history of Roslyn, all told with a great passion.”
The graveside service took place last Sunday at Mt. Ararat Cemetery, Farmingdale. Jacobs is survived by his daughter, Barbara and grandchildren, Andrew and Dierdre.