MANCHESTER, NH – Jacob L. Seilheimer was born on December 23, 1980, in Ladysmith, WI, to Allen Van Seilheimer and Sandra Hatch Seilheimer, ruining his older brother Titus’s dreams of life as an only child. Although a mere 8 pounds, 5 ounces at birth, Jacob grew rapidly in New Auburn, WI, where he was raised on Clear Lake with his family. Sunny, his paternal grandmother, lived next door and ran a welcoming watering hole where Jacob learned a great deal about life.
Jacob impacted the world from an early age: teaching his fellow elementary school classmates poker (games of chance were preferred by his grandmother, but not his teacher) and becoming one of the smartest (although not necessarily the most studious) students in his graduating class at New Auburn High School. Jacob also grew up wrangling bees like a pro, alongside his brother, and learning from his father who owned Wisconsin’s largest commercial beekeeping business.
Although he was a dedicated Wisconsinite (sports teams and adventures included), Jacob always had his sights set on having worldly experiences and charming every New Englander that crossed his path. When choosing a college to meet these goals, Jacob found Colby College in Waterville, Maine, a school that would enhance his superior intelligence and also offered an elite football program that attracted only the best athletes in the country.
Jacob was a commanding presence on Mayflower Hill. He was well known as “the Bear” for his dominating performance as an offensive lineman for the Mules, his fierce loyalty to his teammates and friends, and his epic bear hugs. Fun surrounded Jacob everywhere he went. He was well-respected and loved by all who had the privilege to know him: from security guards and bartenders to professors and the pizza delivery driver. He treated everyone the same – with kindness and curiosity. If you were lucky, he would bestow upon you a nickname that you would have for the rest of your life. If you were truly lucky, you would have shared time and conversation with him in class, at the pub, or on the football field.
Upon graduation from Colby College in 2003 as an environmental policy major, Jacob returned to Wisconsin and worked for the family beekeeping business to follow through on a promise to repay his college debt to his parents. After two years, Jacob eventually convinced one of his best friends from Colby to join him at law school and returned to New England to attend UNH School of Law. In the fall of 2005, during Jacob’s first semester of law school, his father passed away and shortly thereafter, Jacob returned home to be with his mom and help ensure that the family beekeeping business transitioned smoothly to a family friend. Determined to finish what he started, he returned to law school in the fall of 2006.
In an effort to keep moving forward, and perhaps ignoring the fact that he was a blocker and not a runner, Jacob’s friends convinced him to run the Boston Marathon. In 2007, Jacob ran Boston as a bandit runner. His inspiring and humbling tale of determination was chronicled in a story written by Peter Sagal (of NPR Fame) and published in Runner’s World Magazine 9 years later.
In law school, Jacob added to his collection of friends and met his soulmate, and eventual wife, Megan Yaple. The two became fast friends while bonding over their love of sports and Megan’s alma mater’s (SMU) ill-fated football team, as well as their mutual love for laughter and joy. Jacob graduated from UNH Law in 2008 and passed the bar exam on his first try (which was no surprise to anyone). Due to the recession and Megan’s requirement that he obtain full-time employment prior to cohabitating with him, Jacob entered the world of Corporate Tax Consulting. Although it was not the most glorious job, it challenged him and gave him more lifelong friends to add to his collection.
In the spring of 2012, only weeks after purchasing Megan’s engagement ring, Jacob suffered a seizure that revealed a malignant brain tumor growing in the left frontal lobe of his brain. Jacob named this uninvited guest “Steve” and was determined to part ways with this trespasser.
After surgery and a year of chemo and radiation, Megan and Jacob threw the best wedding celebration ever in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, surrounded by 90 of their closest friends, family, and random beach wedding crashers wearing revealing clothing. Although they would have loved to stay in Mexico, they eventually returned and settled into their life together in Andover, MA.
Unfortunately, two years later, Steve decided to adversely possess more real estate in Jacob’s brain. This time as a Grade 4 glioblastoma. Approaching this new challenge like the Bear he was, Jacob bravely and fiercely worked to evict Steve over the course of four years, another brain surgery, and five clinical trials. He made himself comfortable at Massachusetts General Hospital by delighting nurses, doctors, and fellow patients, and his refusal to take anything seriously always lightened the mood. Jacob proudly out-participated most of the patients in all five trials, and according to his doctor, “advanced science.” We speculate that this was due to his incredibly thick skin (surgeon’s perspective), bear-like qualities, and his unwavering determination as a fighter. His steadfast will to live his life to the fullest allowed him to spend meaningful, quality time with his friends and family across the country. Jacob left an incredible impact on the people in his life and the rest of the world. Sadly, Jacob’s fight with Steve came to an end and he passed away on September 11, 2019, in the loving arms of his brother and his devoted wife.
Although cancer may have ultimately ended Jacob’s life, Steve didn’t win. The truth is, nothing can ever dull the bright light that lives within Jacob Seilheimer’s spirit. The tale of Jacob’s short but incredibly full 38-year-life is best told through the strength of the bonds that he made with those around him. He was loved and supported by thousands of adoring friends and family members and his legacy will live on through the countless memories he created with everyone he encountered. To know Jacob was to laugh with him and to love him. His superior intelligence, quick wit, booming laugh, and larger than life presence will be sorely missed and remembered forever.
Jacob taught us all how to truly live a life with no regrets and his legacy is captured in his incredible ability to recognize what matters most. In Jacob’s wise words: “In the end, no matter how bad it seems, all you have to do is get through a day. The secret to doing that is having great friends and family surrounding you.”
Jacob wished to be cremated, with his ashes spread at a number of special locations. And because he was never one to dwell on the terrible, his final wish was for two parties to be held in his honor: one in his hometown of New Auburn, WI; and the other, in his adopted hometown of Manchester, NH (where, through his never ending web of friends, he became a proud honorary member of both the Central and West Classes of ’99). Because he believed that money was no object (although generally never had any basis for this belief), he has high expectations for attendance by his loved ones and friends. He’s buying the beers. As well as various types of brats, cheese, and chicken tender parm. He also requested speeches praising him. Please try your best. Because a party befitting a human of his magnitude requires some forethought and logistical coordination, details of the monumental events will be forthcoming at a later date. Don’t worry, we won’t wait too long and will try not to interfere with any Packers, Brewers, or Bucks games. Jacob did not like the Patriots, so we don’t care about them.
Jacob is survived by his loving wife, Megan Yaple; his rescue German Shepherd, Dooley, and cat, Little Nancy Reagan (LNR) who he named and tolerated, but never really cared for; his mother, Sandra of New Auburn, WI; his brother, Titus, sister-in-law, Amy, and two nephews, Tor and Leif of Manitowoc, WI; and aunt, Elaine Hatch of Portsmouth, NH, as well as an incredibly large in-law family (mostly in CA), all of whom love and miss him dearly. He was predeceased by his father, Allen; aunt, Kathy; and both sets of grandparents.
His family wishes to thank all the doctors, nurses, and staff at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Neuro-Oncology who gave us so much hope for so very long, as well as every first-responder who responded to our calls. Jacob would not have made it this far without you.
Because Jacob valued his time with friends and family above everything, to honor him, please call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while and actually talk. This life we are given is far too short and Jacob knew that far too well. If you feel more is needed, in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Community Foundation of Chippewa County: New Auburn School District Scholarship Seedling Fund (Jacob’s beloved public school) or the National Brain Tumor Society (an incredible organization that is fighting daily to find a cure to this terrible disease) in Jacob’s name. To donate to the Scholarship Fund, go to https://www.yourlegacyforever.org/donate/index.phtml