Two Longtime Valley Journalists Die

Longtime Valley writer, broadcaster dies

Jan B. Jacobson, a journalist, photographer, realtor, author, editor, public relations and marketing consultant, and morning radio show host, whose contributions to the television industry garnered her the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ prestigious Governor’s Award, died on the evening of July 16 in Phoenix. She was 58 years old.

“Jan has been a driving force in the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for more than 20 three years,” says Dr. John Craft, Rocky Mountain Southwest chapter board member and professor of communications at Arizona State University. Jan and Dr. Craft joined the board of the chapter together in the mid-80’s and serves as officers together. She worked with Dr. Craft to incorporate the chapter and build its credibility.

“Jan was a tireless contributor to grow the chapter to the well recognized organization that it is today,” Craft said.

Born in Detroit, Mich., Jan moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1970s after graduating from Michigan State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and began her career as a professional journalist. An author by the age of 23, Jan wrote the Amphoto Guide to Framing & Display and the Professional Guide to Green Plants. She was an editor to two other books and at Big Valley magazine, where she was introduced to the entertainment and television industry, interviewing celebrities and focusing on the motion picture and television industry.

She also was active in a number of local professional organizations, including the Valley Press Club where she was president, and the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), where she also served as president. She left Big Valley to accept the position of director of Communications for U.S. Administrators, now known as First Health. While at USA, Jan met her husband, Dan, and together they moved to Phoenix in the late 1980s.

In Phoenix, Jan quickly established herself as a member of the media, starting her own public relations firm, JB Communications, and beginning her involvement with NATAS. Past regional president and national trustee of the organization, she also served on the Academy’s National Public Relations Committee and as an advisor to TV Quarterly magazine.

In addition to the Governor’s Award, Jan was the recipient of two Presidential Emmy Awards and was inducted into the Academy’s Silver Circle Society in 2009, an initiative with which she had been involved since its inception in 1993.

An internationally published photojournalist, publicist and independent producer, she has served as editor and writer for national, regional and local consumer and trade magazines, newspapers, and newsletters including Adweek, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and Business Week. She frequently wrote for the Business Journal and Arizona Homes & Lifestyles Magazine. She was also a contributor to the Arizona Republic, Arizona Business Gazette, Foothills Focus, North Central News and many other publications.

A board member for six years at the House of Broadcasting Museum in Phoenix, Jan also received a Journalist of the Year Award at the Hollywood Fame Awards in 2008 and was honored in 2009 with a Career Achievement in Journalism Award from the Phoenix Music Awards. She also served as the Public Service director for Sandusky Radio’s five local stations and as host and producer of the weekly, hour-long public affairs program, Valley Focus.

She was an extraordinary wife, daughter, and mother, and an invaluable friend to countless. She is preceded in death by Dan, her beloved husband of 17 years. She is survived by her son Mark, her mother Tobie, and her sisters Beverly and Shelley.

Graveside services were held at Paradise Memorial Gardens. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be sent to Hospice of the Valley, The Gardiner Home, 1522 W. Myrtle Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85021. Sign the Guest Book at

Published in East Valley Tribune on July 21, 2010

Passionate longtime Arizona Republic editor dies

by Connie Cone Sexton – Jul. 8, 2010

The Arizona Republic

Jeffrey Dozbaba’s passion to put out a good newspaper guided him through his 31 years at The Arizona Republic. He was the kind of editor who came through the door with his sleeves already rolled up, a pencil behind his ear and an idea for a story he couldn’t wait to spring on an unsuspecting reporter.

Dozbaba, who died Wednesday on his birthday, faced his battle with lung cancer with that same kind of energy. His wife, Mary, said that for the past few months, he kept that can-do spirit going, but then his breathing just gave out. The Chandler resident was 58.

Most of his newspaper career was spent at The Republic. He began in 1978 as a copy editor, became sports editor in 1991, assistant manager editor in 1993, and then senior editor, senior director of the newsroom’s Information Center and finally was named a manager editor in March 2008. He retired in June 2009.

“He helped lead The Republic’s local news coverage and his efforts have left a lasting legacy for the Phoenix community,” said Randy Lovely, Republic editor and vice president for news. “He was a hard worker, but he played with equal energy and could also be counted on to lighten the mood and add laughter to the room.”

Dozbaba could be imposing, funny and shy all within the space of an hour. His voice had shades of Rocky Balboa, fitting since he was born outside Philadelphia, a place he loved dearly.

Mary Dozbaba said she found him a bit intimidating when they first met in 1972 at Temple University in Pennsylvania. He was the editor of the school newspaper; she was the managing editor.

“He was such a big guy, such a strong person,” she recalled. “He just had this charisma about him.”

And, she said, he was the kind of person she knew would challenge life.

As much as he loved journalism and watching or playing sports, he loved his family, Mary said. His children, Collin, 26 (whom Dozbaba had really wanted to name Jesse James, to Mary’s chagrin), and Katie, 23, were beacons in his life.

Mary said her husband led a simple and satisfied life. He liked keeping family traditions, including going to the same travel places every year, such as Christopher Creek in Arizona or San Diego. If he enjoyed a book, he’d think nothing of reading it over again, like “The Agony and the Ecstasy.” And he’d never give up on something, even when it was difficult, like running or playing golf.

“He’d just keep at it,” Mary said. “He wasn’t one to worry about what anyone thought.”

He almost didn’t become a journalist until a teacher noted what a good writer he was. He was ever thankful of the advice.

“He said that if you can find something that you love to do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life,” Mary said. “Even when he left, he marveled at what a wonderful career he had and everything he got to do.”

Christina Leonard, an assistant metro editor at The Republic, said Dozbaba proved to be a good mentor.

“He encouraged me to become an editor and took a chance on a young journalist,” she said. “He pushed you to be better. He expected more. I’m grateful for everything he taught me.”

Leonard said he cared about the job but cared about the people around the office, too. “He and his wife were incredibly generous and fun to be around,” she said.

And it was hard to escape some of the ribbing Dozbaba liked to dish out. “He could insult you like nobody’s business,” Leonard said, “but he always did it with a smile.”

Bill Goodykoontz, The Republic’s movie critic, met Dozbaba at The Republic in 1992. “He was just one of those big, boisterous, sort of larger-than-life persons that newsrooms used to have a lot more of. He was really forward-thinking about how the news was covered. He wanted stuff with attitude but was still fair, still accurate,” he

At one point, Dozbaba wanted every sports reporter to do a stint covering the night public-safety beat, in part to remind them of the nuts and bolts of journalism, Goodykoontz said. It showed how he wanted people to never lose sight of the basics of a
solid story.

Former Republic reporter Bob Golfen, who knew him since college, said some of Dozbaba’s ideas, however, could be a bit hard to follow.

“He was a smart guy with great instincts, but he wasn’t always tremendously articulate,” he said.

When reading over a story, Dozbaba might say it was good but that something was missing.

“He seemed to have a deeper understanding of what we needed to do, even if he couldn’t always say it,” Golfen said. “But you knew when you did the story over, it would be better.”

Mary Dozbaba said her husband kept wanting to challenge himself to the end. “He was not a talkative person,” she said. “He could be shy and quiet. Nobody was harder on Jeff than Jeff. He felt he was never good enough. He had a sense of wanting to do better.

“But I think Jeff felt lucky. He lived a really good life. And he was well-loved. He would have made a great granddad.”