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Living life to the fullest

Roger Jacobsen is reflected in his heart-shaped shadow box that features his medals from his time spent in Vietnam.

Roger Jacobsen was truly one of a kind.

Many of you knew him as your neighborhood postal carrier for a number of years, always greeting you with a smile and a kind word or two.

Others were familiar with Roger because of his passionate involvement with the West Fargo VFW.

While on vacation last week I was saddened to learn of Roger's passing.

When I last saw him a few months ago at the West Fargo VFW, I never dreamed that he would be that close to succumbing to an illness that he fought so voraciously to conquer, attacking it with the same gutsy determination he employed while serving his country in the U.S. Army four decades ago in Vietnam.

Two words instantly come into mind when I think of the man - humility and courage. Humble in the way he carried on in his everyday life, always willing to give, never seeking anything in return; and courageous in the face of adversity, always searching for the positive aspect of every hand dealt him.

Approximately seven years ago Roger retired from a lengthy career with the postal service so he could enjoy a life he shared with his longtime companion Lulu.

But any enjoyment was to be short-lived because of serious health issues leading to a diagnosis of ALS a/k/a Lou Gehrig's disease.

How appropriate that the man who had earned a purple heart and two bronze stars for his courage and valor during his tour of duty in Vietnam, would 'call it a day' just two days shy of Veterans Day, a time when his passing would be celebrated with more significance than ever.

Roger was a man of few words, but his familiar laugh spoke volumes. He always had a smile on his face and a kindhearted wisecrack or two to share.

That huge grin was indeed his signature trademark - it was always there, no matter what the occasion, no matter what the mood, no matter how he actually felt.

He was also very serious about his 'veteran' connection.

Consequently, he seemed to be in his element more than anyplace else when at the West Fargo VFW. He loved the club and its people, he loved the camaraderie, and he seemed to thrive on that sense of belonging he shared on almost a daily basis with fellow veterans.

In an interview published four years ago in our paper in advance of Memorial Day and the annual West Fargo VFW celebration, Roger spoke openly about being an active member of the group and the valuable role such organizations play in preserving ties that bind for generations to come.

"Just being in a club like the West Fargo VFW that has the support we do, and being able to honor those who have passed on is a great privilege," he said proudly. "Keeping memories alive for families that have lost children, husbands or fathers is a good thing to do and it is something the survivors will never forget."

Who would have thought those words would so quickly apply to his own loved ones left behind?

Roger may be gone, but he is not likely to be soon forgotten. His legacy will live on forever through his good works, his good deeds, and perhaps more than anything his infectious laugh, the memory of which will continue to resonate through the hearts and minds of family and friends as a lasting reminder of the man who left them way too soon.