Young, Jacob T.

Talented And Versatile Magazine Editor

  • Tuesday, April 23, 2024
Jacob T. Young, a talented and versatile magazine editor whose career included senior roles at Wired, Time Inc., People, Readers Digest, and Newsweek, died on January 12 at his home in Mill Valley, California, following a courageous three-year battle with Lewy Body Dementia, a neurodegenerative disease of the brain. He was 67 years old.

Born January 26, 1956, in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., Jake, as he was known to most, was the son of Troy Young of Chickamauga, Georgia, and Mary Wilhoit Young of Signal Mountain, Tennessee. His father was a furniture salesman and disabled veteran of the Korean War. His mother worked as an engineer for the Tennessee Valley Authority, where she forecasted power needs for the region.

Jake grew up in Chattanooga, where he attended the Baylor School, a private preparatory school that, at the time, was an all-boys institution. From there, Jake attended Stanford University (his first trip west of the Mississippi), where he soon discovered his passion for journalism. Soon after his arrival, he started spending untold hours in the offices of The Stanford Daily, ultimately becoming the student newspaper's editor-in-chief during his senior year. With his easy-going manner and commanding 6'5" height, he stood out among his colleagues and was a mentor and friend to scores of student journalists. Jake graduated in 1978 with a BA in history.

That fall, Jake moved to New York City to pursue a career in magazine journalism. After a short stint at a trade publication, he joined the staff of Newsweek magazine in 1979. In his nine years at Newsweek, Jake covered political campaigns, spent three years as Detroit bureau chief, and served as a writer in New York, where he wrote countless stories on a wide range of topics.

Jake joined People Magazine in 1988 as a news editor and soon was promoted to senior editor of news. In 1990, People asked Jake to oversee the startup of a similar magazine in Australia that would come to be called Who Weekly. After a successful test run, he moved to Sydney and spent the next several years as the magazine's founding editor. Following a short stint as editor of Time South Pacific, Jake returned to New York in 1995 to become an assistant managing editor at People and, later, development editor for Time Inc. During those years, he took part in the launches of several new magazines.

From 2000 to 2005, Jake served as executive editor of Readers Digest before becoming managing editor of Wired magazine, where he worked from 2006 to 2016 and had a front-row seat to the emerging technological revolution happening in Silicon Valley.

In 1996, Jake's life was changed in immeasurable ways when he met Marsha Robertson at a dinner in Los Angeles. Marsha, who worked as a publicist on film production sets around the world, was a fellow Stanford alum from the class of 1976. Six months after they met, Marsha, a long-time Californian, moved to New York where she and Jake established a home on the Upper East Side. They married in 1999.

Jake and Marsha moved to San Francisco in 2006 and to Mill Valley in 2010. They loved living in California, especially among the tall redwoods in Mill Valley that surrounded their home. Jake's life was turned upside down when Marsha died of cancer in 2018 at the age of 63. It was a loss he felt deeply.

Jake's Lewy Body diagnosis in 2021 was a blow, but he never let it define him. He continued to show his trademark kindness, good humor, and inquisitiveness to the very end. He will be missed dearly by those who knew him.

Jake is survived by his younger brother, Jeff Young, of Chattanooga; his niece Brandi Yeoman, also of Chattanooga; his great-nephew Hunter Robinson and great-niece Riley Yeoman; his brother-in-law Jim Robertson and his wife Tammy; and his loving and devoted companion Kyle Gibson, who brought him great joy, love, and comfort in recent years.

A memorial service is schedule for May 5, 2024 in Mill Valley, Ca.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Futures Without Violence, 100 Montgomery Street, The Presidio, San Francisco, CA, 94129. (https://www.futureswithoutviolence.org)Family and friends will hold a private memorial service at a future date.
Published by Marin Independent Journal on Jan. 16, 2024.
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