Gloria Haines Jacobs the founder of Disney Golden Ears Club passes away
Gloria Haines Jacobs the founder and two-time president of the Walt Disney World Golden Ears Club, Jacobs not only had a hand in creating camaraderie for Disney's former employees but also documented the group's memories with her scrapbooks.
"She must have at least a dozen," said Alvina Evans, a longtime friend and fellow Golden Ears member. Jacobs and her husband, Marvin, took pictures during trips and other group events, Evans said.
Jacobs, of Orlando, died May 18 of a stroke. She was 84.
Originally from Lancaster, Pa., Jacobs and her husband moved to Florida in the 1950s. A registered nurse, she worked at a blood bank before she was hired by Disney World's nursing department in 1971.
Later, Jacobs worked for the human resources and benefits department, where she educated employees about retirement.
"She used to conduct classes on teaching people how to retire," her husband said. "In fact, people still remind me about that and said they learned a lot."
That's when Jacobs came up with the notion of starting the Golden Ears Club. She knew that Disneyland in California had a retirement club, so she approached her boss about starting a group in Orlando.
In 1975, Jacobs started Golden Ears and served as the club's retirement counselor. Today, there are about 100 active members who attend monthly meetings.
Phil Boyle, 80, joined Golden Ears after 18 years as an irrigation specialist for several golf courses at Disney. As a former president and the current membership chairman, Boyle said the club has very few rules. It's all about creating friendships and having fun.
"All you have to be is retired from Disney and like to have fun, eat and travel because that's what our club is all about," Boyle said.
After working for Disney World for 23 years, Jacobs retired in 1994 and joined the group she had started, participating in monthly meetings, group trips and philanthropic efforts. But her role as educator never stopped — she was always there to give her fellow retirees advice.
Jacobs served as Golden Ears president for two terms. With her supportive and caring personality, she helped members achieve their potential and was always encouraging, Evans said.
Ann McDeed, editor of the club's newsletter, said members looked up to Jacobs.
"She's like a guardian angel or mother figure for the club. She watched over us and made sure we did everything right."
The club's next newsletter will have a eulogy, McDeed said. "We don't usually do this for people. But she's something special."