Jacobsen, already the record-holder at 57 years of Idaho state service,
shoots for 60…and beyond

Where were you in 1959? Some were still a gleam in a parent's eyes, some were young kids or teenagers, and very few had any sort of meaningful job. But Terry Jacobsen was already on the clock with ITD, taking compaction tests on the stretch of freeway between Pocatello and Fort Hall. Fifty-seven years later, he's still on the clock, working toward a Diamond anniversary. That's right — he's going for 60.

"I was a greenhorn when I started, just 20 years old. Over the years, working got to be a habit for me and I'm so used to getting up and coming out here that I just keep going," explained Jacobsen. "Yeah, I'm shooting for 60, and maybe more."

Terry should hit 58 years in late July.

These pictures show 25-year-old Terry, on right, next to his '63 Impala and, to left, next to an ITD truck in March.


Jacobsen (who's given name is Carl) is already the record-holder in Idaho for state service. ITD has essentially owned that record over the years. Except for a few years when former Secretary of State Pete Cenarrusa had the record at 52 years, ITD has had it since Chuck Webb (Print Shop manager) at 49 years upon his retirement in 2001. Roy Jolly from District 1 retired with 49 years in 2003, but Chuck's record had already been broken by Cenarrusa the year before. Elden Dormier, a welder in the District 3 shop, held the state record at 56 years when he retired in 2013.

Another of his contemporaries, Lotwick Reese, state hydrologist in HQ, retired in late March with 51 years. Dianne Schlund from District 4 just hit 48 years in hours accrued, and Mike Ebright from Bridge is next on the longevity list, with 47 years.

When Jacobsen started with ITD on April 14, 1959, calculators were unheard of, so all they had were slide rules, or "slip sticks."

He has seen so many changes and advancements over the years that it "boggles my mind to think about them," he said. For instance, the soil R-Value tests and Hveem Plantmix tests he ran in the D5 lab in the mid-1980s are now both obsolete. The Hveem tests have been replaced by the Superpave Gyrocompactor, and the old dial presses for breaking concrete cylinders have been replaced by a state-of-the-art Forney computerized cylinder press. He started on slope-staking crews from Inkom to Downey, Malad to the Utah Line, Fort Hall to the Bonneville Line, and from American Falls to Raft River. Those techniques have also been streamlined.

Terry has received high marks for his proficiency with the old T1A and T2 surveying transits, and with Plantmix testing and concrete compressive strength-testing. He counts the lab testing he's done over the years as his proudest work accomplishment.

When asked what the current version of himself would say to the younger version of himself, Jacobsen says he'd tell that kid to keep his chin up.

"I'd say, 'Don't get discouraged, kid! Hang in there and keep plugging away and your world will get brighter!'"

"Terry is a valuable member of the District 5 team who's very dedicated to his job, and I really appreciate that trait hasn't changed over all these years," said southeastern Idaho District Engineer Ed Bala. "In the late 1980s I was a resident engineer in Rigby and we sent all our paving samples to Terry for analysis. I can remember many times when Terry went the extra mile, working on weekends to get our results in a timely fashion so we could keep projects moving."

"I think it's a tremendous example of customer service and I know Terry still works like that."

Pictured above left is Jacobsen at his 40-year ceremony in 1999 with District Engineer Ed Bala. Pictured above right is Jacobsen, most likely in the late 1980s or early '90s.

Published 04-01-16