Cover photo for Virginia F. (Newell) Jacobowitz's Obituary
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1923 Virginia 2023

Virginia F. (Newell) Jacobowitz

July 3, 1923 — November 19, 2023

Kalamazoo, Michigan


Virginia Jacobowitz died peacefully in her home, surrounded by family, on November 19, 2023.  She was born July 3, 1923, in Chicago, Illinois; daughter of Kenneth Earl and Frances Mary (Fowler) Newell.  She spent summers on Corey Lake near Three Rivers, Michigan, from early childhood. She graduated from Hyde Park High School in Chicago in January 1941.   


With the war approaching, she set aside college plans in favor of marriage in May 1942. Virginia and Donald Smallcombe raised three children but divorced after 26 years of marriage. When her children were young, she was an active leader in both Boy and Girl Scouts and was active in the Three Rivers First Presbyterian Church. In 1961, Virginia joined a group of friends who were commuting to Western Michigan University to continue an education put off by the War and raising families.  Virginia graduated with a BA in 1966 and an MA in English, cum laude, in 1968. She was hired to teach English at Lakeview H.S. in Battle Creek. Education was always extremely important to her.


In 1976, she married Dr. John M. Jacobowitz of Three Rivers. They made their home in Portage, halfway between their two jobs, keeping a home on Corey Lake for weekends. After a serious illness, she left Lakeview H.S. to finish her career in the Portage school system. Jack died in 2001 after 26 years of marriage. 


Virginia was a seamstress, a knitter, a reader and loved her family and her cats. She was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Kalamazoo, the WMU Presidents Circle and the Kalamazoo Association of Retired School Personnel. The last 22 years were spent thriving at the Fountains at Bronson Place where she participated in many activities of the Resident's Association, including serving as President twice. She wrote for the in-house newspaper and managed the recently dedicated "Virginia Jacobowitz Library" for many years. 


Virginia was preceded in death by her only brother, Robert Newell, in 2007, as well as her daughter, Carol Cooper, in 2022, and stepson, Jack Jr. (Roberta) Jacobowitz.


She is survived by her sons: Stephen Smallcombe (Rosemarie) and David Smallcombe (Kimberly Ginn); her stepsons: Bret (Laura) Jacobowitz, & Kurt (Paul) Jacobowitz-Cain;  grandchildren: Christy Anne O’Ceallagh (Tom), Shannon Bommarito (Justin), Megan Gunter (Brad), Matthew Smallcombe (Kelly), Nathaniel Smallcombe (Karen), Sarah Meyers (Jeremy), Abigail Gasper (Adam), Arianna Houser (Greg), Jennifer Koski, Michael Farkas (Shannon); step grandchildren: Jennifer (Mark) Campo, Elizabeth Jacobowitz, and Mary (Donnie) Wilcox; 22 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.


Friends may visit with the family from 6:00-8:00 p.m. on Friday, November 24, 2023, at the Langeland Family Funeral Homes, Westside Chapel 3926 S. 9th Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49009. A funeral service will be held at 10:00 a.m. at the funeral home on Saturday, November 25, 2023. Interment will follow in the Newell Family Plot at Riverside Cemetery, Three Rivers. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be given to the First Presbyterian Church of Kalamazoo, the WMU School of Education, SPCA or the charity of your choice. Please visit Virginia's personalized web page to sign the online guest book or leave a message for the family at

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