Prominent Twin Cities businessman Irwin Jacobs shot and killed his wife, Alexandra, before turning the gun on himself in a murder-suicide Wednesday at the couple’s Lake Minnetonka home, the Hennepin County medical examiner confirmed Friday.
The cause of death for each was listed as “multiple gunshot wounds,” according to the examiner’s report.
The pair were found dead Wednesday morning in their hilltop mansion overlooking Lake Minnetonka in Orono. The bodies were found in a bed, along with a gun. Both were 77.
Orono Police Chief Correy Farniok confirmed the manner of death but said investigators are still waiting on some forensic evidence before completing the investigation.
Family friends said in the first hours after learning of the deaths that they believed them to be a murder-suicide, but Friday’s confirmation ended speculation about the fate of the colorful, well-known businessman and his socially and philanthropically active wife.
Dennis Mathisen, a longtime family friend, said earlier this week that Alexandra Jacobs “had been in a wheelchair for the last year or so and had signs of dementia. Irwin was just distraught over her condition.”
A close friend described the couple as inseparable. “They were soul mates,” the friend said. “He adored her. She adored him.”
Married for 57 years, their love for one another was inspiring, an obituary notice released Friday stated.
“They were devoted parents and grandparents who prioritized and valued their family above all else,” the obituary said. “Their favorite times were sitting around a table with their loved ones. They adored their eight grandchildren and took great pleasure in watching them grow.”
Working alongside his father at a very young age, Irwin Jacobs had a hunger and a skill for making a deal. For much of his career, he was a nationally known investor who made a fortune as a corporate raider, buying and liquidating failing companies at a profit.
He was known by some as “Irv the Liquidator” and was a fierce competitor in the corporate world, according to the obituary. He saw the value in companies in ways that others could not and had an uncanny ability to negotiate, the statement said.
For more than 40 years, he owned J.R. Watkins Co., the Winona-based maker of soaps and other household products that are sold around the country. He grew his boating acquisitions into Genmar Holdings Co., which was a top recreational boat builder with names including Crestliner, Larson and Lund.
He also owned Jacobs Trading Co. in Hopkins, a retailer specializing in liquidation of merchandise, and at various times owned other businesses in a variety of industries, including a piece of the Minnesota Vikings.
Unlike her husband, Alexandra Jacobs shunned the spotlight. She was a talented artist who painted extensively in oil and watercolor. She is being remembered for her kindness, humility and her devotion to her family. She dedicated her life to raising her five children, including a daughter with special needs, the obituary stated.
The couple was active with groups and charities that served people with disabilities, including the PACER Center and Courage Center.
Irwin Jacobs underwrote and served as chairman of the 1991 International Summer Special Olympics Games, which were held in the Twin Cities, the obituary stated. He financed the building, furnishing and overall operations of Dells Place, a group home for developmentally challenged individuals. Likewise, he also was involved with Functional Industries, an occupational workshop for physically and mentally disabled individuals, and Art Center of Minnesota.
Services for the Irwin and Alexandra Jacobs will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. Monday at the Lafayette Club, 2800 Northview Road in Minnetonka Beach.
“We are heartbroken by this loss, and we ask that our privacy be respected as we grieve during this very difficult time,” the couple’s five children said in a statement earlier this week, adding that they were shocked and devastated.