The Presbyterian Home for Children memorialized one of its former presidents on Sept. 18 by naming its courtyard after Rev. Dr. Allen C. Jacobs.
Jacobs was president of the Home from 1950 to 1971 and was an enduring example of compassion to children in the name of Christ. He shepherded a number of new programs and renovations at the Presbyterian Home during his 20 years as president, and he also authored a book on the 100 year history of the Home from its founding in 1864 to 1964.
“It’s fitting that the courtyard in front of Weatherly Hall will carry the name of Rev. Dr. Jacobs,” said Doug Marshall, current president and CEO of the Home. “This courtyard is the heart of our campus, and Dr. Jacobs was the heart of the Home for 20 years.” The Rev. Leeann Scarbrough of First Presbyterian Church of Talladega and director of spiritual life for the Home led the dedication of Jacobs Courtyard.
In 1971 Jacobs had just announced his retirement from the Home to be the fourth president of Thornwell Orphanage in Clinton, S.C. He died suddenly and unexpectedly in Talladega at the age of 52 before he could fill the South Carolina post.
The Thornwell position had special meaning to Jacobs because he was raised in that institution from the age of 10. One of eight children, Jacobs and several of his siblings entered the Thornwell Orphanage in 1928 after their father died. He graduated from Thornwell High School in 1938 and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C. in 1942. He then entered the Army and served in the European Theater until the end of World War II.
After his discharge from the Army, Jacobs entered Columbia Theological Seminary, graduating with a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1948. Immediately thereafter he accepted a call from the James Island Presbyterian Church in Charleston, where he served until he was called to the Presbyterian Home for Children in 1950. Presbyterian College conferred upon Jacobs the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity in 1958.
He was active in the Talladega Chamber of Commerce, Citizens Hospital Board, Boy Scouts of America, Alabama Department of Mental Health and the Presbyterian Church.
His son, Allen C. (Cleve) Jacobs Jr., was well known in Talladega and loved by its residents. Passing away in 2019, Cleve was the owner with his wife Patti of Brannon’s Printing Company.
Marshall announced that a sequel to the Jacobs book on the Home’s history is in the works. Marshall said he is working with renowned author Tom Ward and distinguished journalist and Home director of communications Cindy Fisher to write a book that tells the Home’s history from when Jacobs’ book ends in 1965 to 2021.
Ward, president of Churchill Press, authored “Alabama: The Bicentennial” for the Alabama Department of Archives in addition to “The Grove” and “I Died and Went to Mississippi.” Fisher is CEO of Kingfisher Media LLC, publisher of the Selma Sun newspaper, and former editor of the Birmingham Business Journal.
The dedication of the courtyard was part of the Home’s annual alumni day celebration. Current residents and alumni were treated to food cooked over an open fire at a chuck wagon, horse buggy rides, a large trailer of farm animals to learn about and music by bluegrass band Valley Road.