Western Mass broadcast legend dead: Rollie Jacobs, longtime WWLP-TV sports presenter, sporting director, deceased at 86
wwlp ed trap tom colton rollie jacobs ed kennedy
The WWLP Press Team in 1964: From left to right, Ed Hatch, Tom Colton, Rollie Jacobs and Ed Kennedy. The photo is from the book “How We Survived in UHF Television: A Broadcasting Memoir, 1953-1984”, by William Lowell Putnam and Kitty Broman Putnam. Rollie Jacobs, WWLP’s first sports presenter who retired as the station’s sports director in 1984, died at a Holyoke nursing home on Wednesday. He was 86 years old.
SPRING FIELD – Rollie jacobs, the legendary former Channel 22 sports presenter and longtime voice of Riverside Park Speedway, died Wednesday night at Loomis House, a continuing care retirement community in Holyoke. He was 86 years old.
To generations of viewers in this region, “Rollie Jacobs has shone a spotlight on the best and brightest in the world of sports,” Scott Coen, a local sports journalist and television personality, wrote in a recent tribute to Jacobs50 years of hosting the Western Mass Tee Party, an annual event marking the start of the local golf season.
Jacobs retired as sporting director for WWLP-TV / 22News in 1984, but that didn’t slow the longtime avid golfer, who continued to stay involved in his community.
A representative for Loomis said 22News that Jacobs passed away peacefully with members of his family by his side. One of Jacobs’ children, Patricia Voyer, told the TV station his father had had multiple health issues in recent years and had moved to a community retirement facility in Loomis with his wife, Eleanor last month. “Ellie” Jacobs.
Rollie Jacobs was WWLP’s first sports presenter and eventually became the news station’s sports director, a position he held until his retirement in 1984.
Voyer said the sport saved his father from a difficult childhood. “It was her passion,” she told 22News. “He loved having the opportunity to be active in the community by doing something he loved.”
Jacobs was also known as the track announcer for the former Riverside Park Speedway in Agawam, a role he held for more than three decades.
Just two months ago, Jacobs again hosted the annual Tee Party event, where he welcomed Country Club of Greenfield golf professional Kevin Piecuch as the 2014 winner.
Piecuch, like so many other locals, said he grew up watching Jacobs on TV. “Rollie was the first local celebrity for many of us here at Western Mass,” he said, adding that Jacobs “played such a big role” in the local golf community.
“He’s almost like Dick Clark,” Piecuch said. “No matter how many years seem to go by, you can always count on Rollie’s presence.”
Funeral arrangements are private, but Jacobs’ family are planning a public memorial next month at the Firtion Adams Funeral Home in Westfield. Details have yet to be announced.
The family also establishes a Rollie Jacobs Memorial Scholarship Fund. Details are expected to be released at a later date.