One of Westmont’s first faculty members has died. Margaret Jacobsen Voskuyl passed away March 15 in Santa Barbara at the age of 94. Gracious, energetic, smart and articulate, she enthusiastically embraced the vision of Westmont’s founders.
Margaret’s long history with the college began in 1940. After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Christian education at Wheaton College, she arrived at Westmont with Wallace Emerson, the former dean of students at Wheaton who became the first president. Margaret taught English from 1940-41, lived in one of the dormitories and served as assistant dean of women. She left to marry Rolf Jacobsen in 1941, who was a Westmont trustee from 1947 until his death in 1974. Their Pasadena home overlooked the Rose Bowl, and Margaret lived there for 47 years.
She raised three children and joined the faculty at Biola from 1949 to 1957 at the invitation of Emerson, who worked there after poor health forced him to resign from Westmont. Margaret taught psychology and Christian education and published a book on child psychology. She also wrote for Christian Life and Times. A longtime member of Lake Avenue Congregational Church in Pasadena, she taught Sunday school and served as superintendent of missions there for 28 years. During her travels, she often visited missionaries the church supported. A founding member of the Association of Church Missions Committees, she led effectively in the male-dominated world of her day.
Rolf and Margaret were business partners involved with the Pasadena Central Improvement Association, which first envisioned Old Town Pasadena. When he died, Margaret ably managed his business enterprises. In 1986, she married former Westmont president Roger Voskuyl, and they moved to Santa Barbara in 1997. Together, they enjoyed 19 years of retirement and worldwide travel. He died in 2005.
In 2010, the Crowell Trust awarded Margaret the first Susan Coleman Crowell Award for her “lifetime of selfless service and faithful demonstration of the godly vision, values and initiatives that characterize the life of Susan Coleman Crowell.”
Three of Margaret’s six grandchildren attended Westmont: Mary Jacobsen Vaderschoot ’91, Mark Jacobsen ’94, and David Jacobsen ’99. She is survived by her three children and their spouses, John (Carol), Richard (Elaine), and Betty Rae Howie (Lynn), 17 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. Family say she was “warm and caring, a keen listener and a wise counselor, a gracious hostess and a loving mentor. She was a model of what it means to follow Jesus Christ with courage and grace.”
Margaret participated in oral history interviews with retired Westmont professors Paul Wilt and John Sider. She remembered meeting Westmont trustee John Bunyan Smith when he visited Wheaton. “[He] grabbed my hand, and he held it tight, and he said to me, ‘Young lady, do you subscribe to the doctrinal statement of Westmont College?’ It made me realize how deeply some of those people felt…[about] what they were founding.”
Margaret believed in Emerson’s vision: “This was to be a school that would combine faith and academic excellence for our generation. It was to be a school, not a Bible school, not a seminary, but a Christian college to develop Christian leaders, and it was a joy to be a part of something that had so much basic vision. When I think of…the stars we had in our eyes at the establishment of that school and how involved in it we were and how committed to it, what a vision we shared—those were wonderful days, they really were.”