For three days after Tim Jacobsen died, friends held a round-the-clock bonfire at his home in Minnetonka, inviting people to stop for support, food and drink, tears and memories.
"I was going to stop by for 15 minutes and I stayed for a couple of hours," said Mark Peet, owner of Wayzata Bay Charter Cruises on Lake Minnetonka, where Jacobsen worked as a ship captain.
Jacobsen, 70, who died of cancer on Sept. 25, was widely considered one of the best captains on the lake — partly because he was good at handling a boat, and partly because he was good at handling people.
So the casual, friendly get-together held after his death seemed a fitting way to remember a man who was liked by pretty much everybody.
"He just had this special charisma and way to make people at ease and laugh," said his sister Tjody of Minnetonka. "He brought the fun wherever he went, he brought the light, he brought the joy."
Jacobsen was born in Minneapolis and grew up in Hopkins. In addition to captaining charter boats, he drove a limousine and, before that, worked as a carpenter.
He loved to fish and always carried several poles in his truck. Friends said he was physically active and a bit of a daredevil.
"He was a very charming person who was quick to make people around him feel comfortable," said longtime friend Al Bipes of Minneapolis, who organized the bonfire with his son. "He was a great joke teller, a great storyteller, he wanted everyone around him to have fun."
And he lived in the moment, Bipes said: "For Tim, sleeping was a waste of time. There's always people to see, northern lights to be watched, campfires to be burned."
"One of the things that made Tim very unique is he was always about making sure that everyone had a good time when they were with him," said Bruce Nusbaum of Orono, a fellow captain and close friend for 30 years. "He could find something to relate to with all these people. It always blew me away."
Jacobsen was quick with a quip, friends said — even if it entailed a bit of fibbing. As his charter boat passed a gigantic house being built on the Lake Minnetonka shore, he kidded, "Yeah, my ex-wife lives there."
Riding in a small plane, another passenger asked if he knew how to land the plane. "I could do it — once," he replied.
Although Jacobsen was short — friends thought he was about 5 feet 6 — he used to introduce Bipes, who is 6 feet 3, as his "twin brother." If someone said, "I'll see you shortly," he'd snap, "Don't call me shortly."
"He was a little big man," Nusbaum said. "Short in stature, but he was huge in personality."
Jacobsen's popularity was based on more than jokes. "He was always willing to help. If you needed something done, if Tim could do it, he would do it for you," Nusbaum said.
After Jacobsen's older brother Terry had a stroke and moved to a nursing home, he would stop to see Terry up to three times a day, Tjody said.
"He got to know other [residents] there," she said, and often went back to visit them after Terry died in 2017.
One day, Tjody said she went to meet Tim in front of her office building and found him in a borrowed Mustang convertible with Terry sitting beside him. He had used a special lift to carry Terry from his bed to the car.
"He wanted to take Terry for a little joy ride," Tjody said. "Here are both my brothers, grinning from ear to ear."
Besides Tjody, Jacobsen is survived by his wife, Stephanie. A service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at Gethsemane Lutheran Church, 715 Minnetonka Mills Road, Hopkins.
Katy Read • 612-673-4583