Remembering Carol Jacobson (PhD, ’97)

Obituary graciously provided by Dr. Jacobson's family

Carol Jacobson of Oakland, CA, passed away on July 17, 2021, aged 64, at home with family from ovarian cancer. Gone to God, and survived here on her favorite planet by nieces and nephew (Janet, Todd, Kristin, Karin Jacobson), godson (Nate Pearson), dear friends (Lu and John Pearson, Erin Horne, Janie Blakely), brother (Mark Jacobson), colleagues around the world, and generations of divinity and theology students. Preceded in death by parents Carroll “Kip” and MaryLou Jacobson and brothers David and Peter Jacobson. A memorial service will be held at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary this fall, where Carol was a professor since 1999. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to PLTS online at or mailed to Resurrection Lutheran Church, 397 Euclid Ave, Oakland, CA 94610.

A professor at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary since 1999, Carol retired as Associate Professor of Practical Theology on June 1, 2021. Within a week of her retirement she was diagnosed with metastatic ovarian cancer. The depth of her faith, which provided the foundation of her life, granted her strength and peace in the face of her terminal diagnosis. She chose to spend the last weeks of her life at home with her family and friends and with supportive hospice care.

Carol was born into a family of strong Lutheran faith and education in Minnesota, the youngest and most-welcomed only daughter with three older brothers, David, Mark and Peter. While her mother, MaryLou, was pregnant with her, her father—himself a Carroll—was certain it would be a boy, and he wanted to name the baby Carl. Everyone was thrilled when the expected Carl became the beautiful Carol, his direct namesake.

When Carol was 12, Kip was transferred to San Rafael, California, and Carol was proud to be part of the Bay Area for the rest of her life. She spent her college years at Whitworth University in Spokane, WA, earning a BA in music. After her graduation, she took a position as a youth organizer at her church in Spokane. This early ministry helped fuel her decision to move back to the Bay Area to study at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California.

After earning her doctorate in Systematic Theology from the Graduate Theological Union in affiliation with Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in 1997, Carol accepted a faculty position there. Teaching future pastors combined her love of theology, working with young people, and promoting global education with field work in Rwanda and South Africa. The strong, faithful connections she developed with her colleagues and her students was one of her favorite parts of being a professor. She loved engaging in deep conversation, making music together in chapel, and being a listening ear for students.

Carol joined the congregation of Resurrection Lutheran Church in Oakland in the 1990s, and became involved in local and international community work through her church. She loved that Resurrection has a large number of congregants from Rwanda and Tanzania, places she had traveled to, and she was invigorated by the history, politics, and theology of Christian Africa.

We mourn the untimely loss of Carol to cancer.