- The Washington Times - Monday, September 17, 2001

Colleagues of Steven Jacoby, Metrocall Inc.'s chief operating officer who died when his hijacked plane struck the Pentagon, remember him as a stout man, about 6 feet, three inches tall and 220 pounds, with a soft, sensitive side, a man who embodied the meaning of the word sincerity.
Vince Kelly, chief financial officer of the Alexandria wireless company, and William L. Collins III, its chairman and chief executive officer, are still trying to make sense of the tragedy Tuesday morning.
Mr. Jacoby, 43, was on board American Airlines Flight 77, en route to Los Angeles to attend a conference. Mr. Collins says that both he and Mr. Kelly are struggling with the idea that originally, all three were scheduled to be on that plane, until Mr. Collins and Mr. Kelly had to go to a last-minute meeting held locally.
"This just happened, and our heads are spinning," Mr. Collins says. "Monday night we say goodbye to him. We felt shocked Tuesday, and right now, it's just starting to sink in."
"One phrase came into mind: 'There but for the grace of God go I,'" Mr. Collins says. "Jake just said 'All three of us don't have to go.'"
Mr. Jacoby, who went by the nickname "Jake," also served as the company's executive vice president since 1994 when Metrocall merged with FirstPage USA, where he had been the chief operating officer, vice president and secretary since 1988.
Metrocall is trying to operate normally, after losing Mr. Jacoby, but Mr. Collins says the impact of the tragedy, felt nationally, is much more significant at Metrocall's offices.
"Losing a chief operating officer who's been an integral part of the senior management team … it's been hard on a lot of people," Mr. Collins says. "We are like a family here, and you can imagine what it's like to lose a family member."
"He did everything for the right reasons," Mr. Kelly says. "He was sincere, trustworthy, a straight shooter. We're going to miss him, and our hearts are broken. It's going to take a while to heal."
No one will be replacing Mr. Jacoby as COO, Mr. Collins says.
"No one is going to be able to fill his shoes. As COO, he touched a lot of people. He was dealing with all kinds of business issues on a day to day basis. He was a great listener. He was an incredible friend."
Both Mr. Jacoby and Mr. Collins had a long working history together, where both worked at Vanguard Cellular Systems and FirstPage USA.
"He's been with me for over 20 years. You can imagine [how I'm feeling,]" Mr. Collins says. "At 24 years of age, he joined the industry, and rose to COO."
The tragic events have been felt throughout the wireless industry, as Metrocall has been flooded with expressions of sympathy.
"The amount of condolences sent has been so incredible," Mr. Collins says. "Our competitors have all called expressing sympathy."
Mr. Jacoby graduated from Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania with a bachelor's degree in administration. He is survived by his wife Kim, and three daughters.
Mr. Collins says they will soon release information on where to send donations for Mr. Jacoby's family, and are in the process of establishing a foundation in his name.
In April, the company terminated a restructuring and merger agreement it had entered with WebLink Wireless Inc. that would have forced the company to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company planned to renegotiate the deal and postpone the filing.

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