Greg Jacob treasures his Finnish heritage. He was born in Astoria, and immersed in Mother’s Finnish culture, growing up hearing Finnish spoken all the time in the Finn section of Uniontown, Astoria and reading Scandinavian literature from the Kalevala to the Volsung Sagas. His Mother (Dorothy Luoma, child of Finns from Oulu) met his Dad (Harold Jacob, German heritage) during WWII when he was stationed at Fort Stevens. Greg remembers the Chinese heritage mailman who had so many Finns on his route he taught himself Finnish. That rich heritage led to a love of language and a desire to tell the stories, so along the way he received an MA in English (U of Oregon) and a Ph.D in Rhetoric and Composition.
With those skills he taught at Pacific University and Portland State University, and in 1990 he received a Fulbright Lectureship to teach sociolinguistics at Madurai-Kamaraj University near the temple town of Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu, South India. While he was walking there, a cobra crossed his path, stopped in the middle and flared his hood. A scary way to start the day! At PSU he directed the Rhetoric and Writing program, authored Fundamentals of Grammar and Writing as well as an environmental text called Writing and Eco-consciousness. Harking back to his childhood experiences he wrote Fins, Finns and Astorians.
Appreciation for the history of his native Astoria runs deep, and he is proud of Astoria’s past as the salmon capital of the world with 33 fish canneries along the lower Columbia River. His brother, Robert Jacob, was an architect, developer, and owner of part of that history—The Cannery Pier Hotel—until his death in 2018. He is sorely missed. Greg’s son Erik works for Delta Airlines in Atlanta, and his daughter Heidi works with Northland Construction in Sherwood and carry on Finnish traditions. Greg is presently the President of Finlandia Foundation Columbia-Pacific Chapter. At NNW he volunteers on the Friday Night Lecture Series and is co-chair of the Communications and Marketing Task Force. He was instrumental in getting the Fogelbo House listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Regarding his Astoria roots and celebrating the contributions of Nordic immigrants and their descendants, Greg also notes: "I have been involved with promoting the Astoria Nordic Heritage Park on the Astoria Riverwalk and helping to raise funds so that construction can begin in 2021. Anyone can help by mailing a check for that 500$ to ASHA, P.O. Box 34, Astoria, Or 97103.”
Favorite place to visit in the Nordic countries?
Turku, Finland, with its scenic buildings, waterways, and easy access to the archipelago.
Favorite Nordic Food?
Lohi (salmon) for dinner (no surprise coming from Astoria!) and Pannukakku (pancake) for breakfast.