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Jacob Zalim ’81

Jacob Vernon Zalim ’81, August 11, 1988. Jacob was killed by a truck in North Carolina during a biking trip around the United States. He earned a BA from Reed in political science, writing the thesis “Rousseau: Politics and the Soul” with adviser Prof. Stefan Kapsch [political science 1974–2005]. We learned of Jacob's death from his friend, Stephen Levien ’80, and in a search for biographical material, Stephen was able to locate a dedication to Jacob in Crescent of Betrayal (2007), a book written by Alec Rawls ’80. Alec wrote: “Jacob was my college roommate. He walked, bussed, and biked his way across every continent but Antarctica, barefoot when he could, a friendly 6’ 2” Yeti (with his large head, unruly tangle of hair, and ever widening beard) who could drain 20-foot jump-shots all day. He looked like no one else, but wherever he traveled, the people assumed he was one of them. Mexicans thought he was Mexican. Arabs thought he was Arab. Europeans thought he was European. Jews thought he was Jewish. Africans thought he was African. Russians thought he was Russian. Everybody wanted to claim him. Jake appeared to be a free spirit, but in fact was a fast and diligent scholar, always carrying a fresh collection of books as he studied the world up close. Much too early, the world lost one of its great autodidacts. How we could use you today, old friend.” Perpetual yahrzeits for Jacob are recited at Congregation Beth Israel in Corpus Christi, Texas. In addition, the Jacob Vernon Zalim Memorial Scholarship has been established to support students with financial need at Reed College.

Appeared in Reed magazine: online only

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