He received his B.A. from Grinnell College, his B.D. from University of Chicago, and his M.F.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. He taught at UCLA and Iowa Wesleyan before arriving in Macomb in 1969. He served as chair of the department from 1972 to 1978, and retired in 1994.
During his career at WIU, he taught a variety of classes, including Myths, Legends, and Literature; Modern British Literature; Great Books; Short Story; 20th Century British Literature; Literature of the Bible; and Introduction to Fiction. His dissertation was entitled “Psychology, Setting, and Impressionism in the Major Novels of Joseph Conrad,” and he went on to publish on a number of articles on Conrad, mythology, and modernism.
Former student Randy Hardin (BA 1992, MA 1995) recalls: “Yes, I took a mythology class from Jake. I was initially disappointed that we weren’t studying mythology, but mythology as applied to modern literature. However, the class introduced me to a number of great books I wouldn’t have touched otherwise (I am one of the few, the proud, the soldiers who have actually read Ulysses cover to cover). I loved the class – to this day I have a sharpened sense of how mythology is used in contemporary literature.”
His colleagues remember him for his warmth, energy, and playful sense of humor.