Emma Jacobs celebrates an artistic life of 90 years

By Marj Frew

Friends and family of Emma Jacobs gathered at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Martin on Saturday, July 27, to help her celebrate her 90th birthday. 

Emma is best known for her artistic talent, which she has used generously throughout her life. Emma Heese was born July 25, 1929, in Colome, S.D., to Steve and Anna Heese, and moved to the Martin area in the 1930’s with her five siblings, Elenore, Norman, Edna, Lloyd, Mary and Ramona. She attended school at Tuthill, Martin Grade School, and graduated from Bennett County High School. 

Young Emma met her future husband, Leland Jacobs, at a dance in Martin, shortly after he was discharged from the U.S. Army. The couple was married at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church on September 21, 1947, and lived in rural Martin for many years.

Emma and Leland moved to Martin in 2004, and Leland passed away in 2016.

Emma’s family includes her daughter, Carol Solon, who lives in rural Kadoka; son, Jack Jacobs, of Torrington, Wyoming; and daughter, Laurie Hacker, of O’Neill, Nebraska.

Emma’s artistic talent has been a God-given gift her entire life. Her daughters visited about growing up in their rural home. According to Carol, “Dad was an excellent farmer. They worked very hard. Mom loved baking and decorating cakes. She made all kids of wedding cakes, from the time I was a freshman in high school.”

Laurie added, “Mother painted, she always loved art when she was in school. It wasn’t until we were all gone from home when she started painting. My goal was to bring some of her paintings to the party, but we just didn’t have time.”

“She loved all kinds of crafts, but later in life just enjoyed oil painting. She has done quilts for all her kids, and most of the grandkids. She just went from one art medium to the other, it seemed like.”

“You should stop and see her paintings. You would enjoy them,” Laurie suggested.

That’s all the invitation I needed to visit later in the evening at Emma’s home, which resembles a professional art gallery.

Emma doesn’t do a lot of painting any more, due to arthritis, but she enjoys drawing pictures at the request of her visiting granddaughters, and helping other artists in the Martin area.

On the walls of her home Emma pointed out projects that she had made. She remarked that she liked to paint on anything that was sitting still. She painted on saws, and on spoons, ostrich eggs, and any surface which would hold paint. She even has a miniature painting on a peacock feather.

Emma told a little story, “Someone once told me, ‘You paint on everything, don’t you?’ and I said, ‘Anything that sits still.’ He turned to my husband and said ‘Don’t stop moving, Leland!’”

Floral paintings are a specialty for Emma, as she has an artistic touch that brings the canvas to life. Emma had no formal training, but taught herself the techniques needed.

Each painting and project had a story behind it, along with when it was painted, and who it was for. She had her favorite brushes and knew just what each would do. Emma explained, “You’ve got to have expensive good brushes to work with oil paint. And you have to take care of them!” 

Emma has been a good steward of her talent, and has blessed her friends and family with the fruits of her work throughout the years. If you’re lucky, she just might put your name on the back of one of her projects!

502 Second Avenue, Martin, SD 57551 • 605-685-6866 • booster@gwtc.net