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Published: Saturday, 4/26/2014 - Updated: 3 months ago

Jacob Close; 1919-2014: Military man honored for life of service

Former commandant served in the Pacific

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
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Jacob “Jack” Close, a retired commandant of the Army Reserve School in Toledo and an executive of a leading Toledo construction firm, died Tuesday in ProMedica Flower Hospital. He was 94.

He had leukemia, his daughter, Gale, said. In February, Colonel Close traveled to Dayton and donned his uniform to conduct the re-enlistment ceremony for his granddaughter, Air Force Staff Sgt. Carol Walker. A video news report prepared by Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and posted to YouTube shows Colonel Close standing erect and in a strong voice administering the oath in the National Museum of the U.S Air Force. Granddaughter and grandfather exchange salutes to close the ceremony.

Colonel Close, in the video report, said he had two reasons for agreeing to take part in the ceremony: His granddaughter asked. “And I feel that the oath that is taken by the military is among the strongest if not the very strongest oath that people can take,” he said in the video.

He was a former grand marshal of Sylvania’s Memorial Day Parade.

He retired from the Army Reserve in 1972 as commandant of the 2087th Army Reserve School in Toledo. For years afterward, he — in dress uniform — and his wife attended the annual military ball in Toledo.

His service began as an Army enlistee before the United States entered World War II. He attended Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as an officer. With the 37th Infantry Division, he served in the Pacific Theater, including battles at Bougainville and on Luzon in the Philippines. He had a Bronze Star with two Oak Leaf Clusters. He was grazed by a sniper’s bullet and received a Purple Heart.

When his grandchildren started asking questions about the war, “he decided, ‘Maybe I should write all of that down,’” his daughter said. His wife saved all the letters he sent her, which he read for the first time in more than 60 years.

“It reminded him of where he was at what time and how he felt about things,” his daughter said.

The book, including photos from his collection, was published about two years ago as Memoirs Of A Groundpounder.

In civilian life, he was a 32-year employee of the former A. Bentley & Sons Co., which built such Toledo landmarks as the Nicholas Building downtown. He started as a timekeeper and advanced through the ranks. When Thomas Bentley, whose great-grandfather founded the firm, brought in the company’s first mainframe computer, Colonel Close attended an IBM school to learn all about it.

In 1976, he was elected a company director and appointed a vice president of administration and treasurer. He retired in 1982, the year the company voluntarily liquidated. He was brought back as a consultant to help with that process, his daughter said.

“He was well respected and kind and people gravitated to him,” his daughter said.

He was born May 6, 1919, to Dora and Max Close. He was a 1936 graduate of Scott High School.

Surviving are his wife, Elizabeth “Betty” Close, whom he married March 28, 1942; son, Kenneth, a retired Army lieutenant colonel; daughter, Gale Mentzer; sister, Rose Weiss, and five grandchildren.

Services will be at 11 a.m. today in Fairgreen Presbyterian Church, where he was an elder for many years. Arrangements are by the Robert H. Wick/​Wisniewski Funeral Home.

The family suggests tributes to Army Emergency Relief Fund, Alexandria, Va., or aerhq.org.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.



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