Nassau County Legislator Judy Jacobs, known for her advocacy for health and quality-of-life initiatives, died in Manhasset Hospital on Sept. 13 at the age of 77. Jacobs had been battling myelodysplastic syndrome, a disease that causes a decrease in blood-cell production, since May. She suffered a fall in her Woodbury home due to her weakness from the disease and ultimately succumbed to the injuries.
Jacobs had a long and impactful career, with her activism predating her election to the legislature in 1995. Most believe she will be best remembered for her successful campaign against tobacco, which included banning smoking in all restaurants and workplaces across Nassau County. Jacobs had hoped to see the smoking age raised to 21 and see more extensive restrictions placed on the use of electronic cigarettes. Her reach to ban public smoking extended beyond Nassau County, as she met with officials from Suffolk County and New York City as well, in order to develop a regional policy. Suffolk officials also worked with Jacobs on Medicaid reform and public-safety issues around Long Island.
Jacobs had been a teacher in the Elmont school district before becoming legislator. Other accomplishments include her involvement with the Syosset Homeowners Against Pollution of the Environment and with the Residents Against Garbage Expansion. She also did her part to combat breast cancer, heart disease and Crohn’s and was a member of the League of Women Voters. But no matter how lengthy her list of accomplishments, it’s the appreciation she garners from those she’s worked with that’s most impressive.
“Northwell Health lost a great friend in Judy Jacobs,” said Northwell Health President and CEO Michael J. Dowling. “Judy was passionate about civil service, and community and civic activism. The 11-term Nassau County legislator worked tirelessly for the communities she served. For Northwell Health, she was a staple at local government and community meetings, fostering key relationships with elected officials at all levels of government, as well as civic leaders and other local constituents. She left an indelible mark on Northwell, Nassau County and Long Island.”
North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth added, “Judy Jacobs was an extraordinarily legislator and the kindest person I knew. She mentored me when I was first elected as a legislator. She has been and continues to be a role model to me. Judy always had the best interest of her residents at heart and knew how important it was to work in a bipartisan manner. I am just heartbroken over her passing.”
A Woodbury resident for more than 40 years, Jacobs leaves behind three children, nine grandchildren and an undeniable passion for health and sanitation.
“Dedicating my life to the people and communities of Nassau County over the past 20 years has been an extraordinary experience,” she told Anton Media Group in 2015. “Our communities are safer, healthier, and more vibrant than ever before, and I feel privileged to have partaken in the policymaking that has enabled our community to flourish.”