As remembered by John
February 9, 2023
I sadly discovered that Shelby Jacobs had passed on September 5, 2022. Many of you know Shelby as a fellow volunteer in the SCOPE Project in 1965, or from our 50th SCOP/SCLC reunion in 2015. And you also may also be aware that he was a significant contributor to the space program. We wrote about Shelby in the January 2019 issue of the SCOPE50 Newsletter soon after he was honored by NASA as one of their innovators and unsung heroes.
According to the NASA article on the above website, "Shelby worked on the Apollo/Saturn and space shuttle programs. For the shuttle he was the project manager ... He is most proud of his role in the design, installation and testing of the camera system, which flew on the unmanned Apollo 6 flight in April 1968. The film of the separation between the first and second stages of the vehicle is one of the most repeated images in space history."
The cameras captured the famous footage just seconds after the launch on April 4, 1968. Shelby's elation at this success was short-lived when that evening his long-time hero, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. In 1965 Shelby had answered Dr. King's call and had taken time off from work to help register voters in Bibb County, Georgia. During the 50th Reunion in Atlanta, Shelby went back to the community where he worked as a SCOPE volunteer.
Since our 50th reunion, I have stayed in touch with Shelby and his wife Elizabeth. What we had shared with you in the SCOPE50 Newsletters was only a fraction of the life of this giant who walked with us in 1965, shared the same fears that we all had then, and grieved with us at the loss of our leader. Not only was Shelby willing to shed his blood with us, but he took us to a place that we never dreamed of on the Apollo missions. I plan over the next few months to share more of Shelby's remarkable story.
Brother Shelby, we miss you. And we thank you for walking with us arm in arm. But you had a vision of a new height. Thank you for sharing your life and your dreams with us, and for taking us on a journey that we never, never imagined. Thank you, my friend.