When Jason Jacobe started playing soccer at age 5, his coach quickly moved him up a level to compete with the bigger kids.

“He was determined to do his best,” his mother, Diana Jacobe, said in a phone interview. “He was very competitive. He wanted to be first at everything.”

That fiery spirit led Mr. Jacobe to achieve greatness throughout his young life. He was a tremendous, three-sport athlete and valedictorian of Windham High School’s Class of 2002. He played soccer at the University of Maine and was a successful engineer.

One day while playing horseshoes in his backyard, Mr. Jacobe noticed himself struggling to grip the horseshoe and control his toss.

On Feb 22, 2016, he received the life-shattering diagnosis: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – ALS – or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Mr. Jacobe died on Sept. 6 at home in Sugar Hill, Georgia, with his family by his side. He was 34.

He was remembered by his family last week as strong, resilient and physically fit. He loved his family, friends and all things sports.

His mother reflected on the day he called to share the news of his diagnosis.

“I was devastated. I broke down after,” she said. “I was mad and angry and started praying for a cure. I’ve cried every day since.”

Mr. Jacobe, who grew up in Windham, was an academic standout at Windham High. He was a varsity athlete in soccer, basketball, and track and field.

Chad Pulkkinen, Mr. Jacobe’s childhood friend, said he was an incredible teammate and friend.

“He set the bar for me,” said Pulkkinen, now the boys’ varsity basketball coach at Windham High. “Alongside him, we competed together so I got to see his work ethic every day. He pushed me to become a better player and student.”

Mr. Jacobe went on to play soccer for the University of Maine and earned a degree in mechanical engineering in 2007.

He worked for Woodard & Curran, where he earned his professional engineering license. He moved to Georgia in 2008, and continued working for Woodard & Curran, which has an office there.

He was the husband of Elizabeth Jacobe, of Sugar Hill. She said they met through mutual friends on a trip to Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, in 2011. They dated long distance until she moved to Georgia in 2014. She said they talked every day.

“Jason knew exactly who he was,” she said. “He was very happy with who he was. He always strove to be the best he could be. He was decisive. He knew what he wanted and he didn’t care what people thought.”

Mr. Jacobe was diagnosed with ALS two months before their wedding day. The couple married on April 22, 2016. Only a few in his immediate family knew of his diagnosis.

“He made us promise not to tell anyone,” his mother said. “He didn’t want sympathy. He wanted it to be a day of happiness. He didn’t want anyone feeling sorry for him.”

Mr. Jacobe dug in and fought the disease with the same fire and grit he had when competing. He and his wife educated themselves and got involved with the Walk to Defeat ALS in Atlanta. With Mr. Jacobe’s blessing, she started a blog.

“Jason and I decided early on that awareness is important,” his wife said.

Mr. Jacobe participated in the 2016 ALS walk and completed the 3-mile route with the aid of a leg brace. The JJ Journey team raised just under $20,200 for the cause.

“He wanted to make sure he did the entire walk, no matter how difficult it was,” his wife said.

For the 2017 walk, his wife pushed him in a wheelchair. The team raised more than $57,000.

Mr. Jacobe was present for the birth of his daughter, Annalise, who was born this past June 7.

He died two days before this year’s ALS walk. His wife and family walked in his honor. The team raised $8,410.

“Even throughout ALS, I talked to Jason,” his wife said. “He was my person. He was that person I could be 100 percent me. He would listen to me complain, vent, and he never judged me for any of that. He just knew me 100 percent.”

In addition to his mother, wife and daughter, Mr. Jacobe is survived by his father, Jude Jacobe, and a sister, Jennifer LaRose.

A celebration of his life will be held at 3 p.m. Friday in the Windham Town Hall Gym, 8 School Road, in Windham.

Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: MelanieCreamer

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