A fitting farewell for ‘Jaco’

The hearse carrying Phil Jacobson AGM travels through a guard of honour at St. Augustines Church. 18 September 2014 Photo Gemima Harvey/ Coffs Coast Advocate
The funeral of Phil Jacobson APM in Coffs Harbour today. Gemima Harvey/Coffs Coast Advoca

IN the measure of the man, a large crowd today celebrated the life of Phil Jacobson in Coffs Harbour.

Family and friends were joined by retired, former and serving police officers, who paid their final respects to the dedicated family man, decorated former police officer, surf club stalwart and revered Sawtell community leader.

In testament to the life Phil lived, and the generosity he shared throughout his 59-years, there was standing room only at Coffs Harbour's St Augustine's Catholic Church.

Phil is survived by his partner Suze, and was the loving father and father-in-law of Louise and Nifty, Mark and Amy, Kurt and Amy, Alicia and Ben, Bianka and Rebecca and Ronnie.

His children remembered an extraordinary man, who as a young father and sole parent served as a police officer while raising five children, then aged between 27 months and 13, following the sudden death of their mother Annette.

"Your memories will live on forever," the family wrote in tribute to the beloved 'Pa' to six grandchildren.

A mile long police guard stood in honour of the man, many knew affectionately as 'Jaco.'

"As police officers we are aware that incidents occur or matters arise that simply do not make sense or cannot be explained. The death of our esteemed former colleague, our mate, Phil Jacobson APM is one of those events," Coffs Clarence Local Area Commander Mark Holahan said.

"His loss is devastating to his immediate family, his communities that he served so selflessly, his friends and his police family. It is hard to understand why a good man is taken from us so early.

The late Phil Jacobson.

Phil served as a police officer for 41 years and he arrived on the Coffs Coast in 1983 from Cobar.

"His experience, knowledge and personality endeared him to all his colleagues," Supt. Holahan said.

"His well developed sense of community saw him involved in many and varied interests including developing young people in rugby league and surf life saving.

"He carried this into the workplace and was able to coach and mentor many young police, probably hundreds in this command.

"He was an officer with a great deal of commonsense, loyal and trustworthy.

"Apart from his family, policing was his love.

"His overall ability was recognised in 2009 when he was awarded the Australian Police Medal for distinguished service in the Queen's birthday honours list. For Phil this was a humbling experience.

"Not often is a Senior Constable awarded this award.

"For me as his Commander it was a well deserved honour, rightfully awarded to a more than worthy recipient.

"Phil's presence in the workplace was reassuring, what we saw was what we got and how we miss it and him since his retirement.

"Rising to meet personal tragedy, passing on his life experiences to others and his engagement with his community, a police officer of the calibre of Phil cannot be replaced.

"His passing is a great loss to many. Quite simply it hurts. It is not fair. His life though, is an example.

"The people he has touched, the lives he has changed the difference he has made, that is his legacy.

"Good bye old mate. Thank you for being all that you were for your community."

Many fonds memories were shared of Phil's time as a tireless servant for the Sawtell Surf Life Saving Club, the Sawtell Golf Club, Apex and the Sawtell Panthers Rugby League club.

Public recognition of his community service came in 2012 when he was named 'Sawtellian of the Year.'

Great mate Jason Breton, who served with Phil for a decade at the Coffs Harbour Police Station, remembered a man who always put others before himself.

"It's strange in a way, but now that Phil is gone he is a better man, but then again we always knew that," Jason said.

"He was an authority on policing, a man who was above title, there was no demarcation of rank when it came to Jaco, he was the man everyone looked up too for advice in policing and in life.

"Not too many senior constables have ever won the Australian Police Service Medal, but Jaco set the example.

"He was an exceptional police officer and an exceptional person.

"Even the crooks couldn't help but like him, that's what sort of bloke Jaco was, a true gentleman in every sense of the word," he said.

Phil Jacobson was laid to rest this afternoon at the Coffs Harbour Lawn Cemetery at Karangi.