Psychiatry colleagues remember Dan Jacques

On June 3, the UNMC Department of Psychiatry held a virtual memorial to honor IT specialist and longtime colleague Daniel “Dan” Jacques, who died on May 2.

Dan worked at UNMC for five decades. Longtime friend and colleague Mark Fleisher, MD, called him “simply irreplaceable.”

Dan started at UNMC in April 1972 in research. In 1987, he transitioned to the psychiatry department as a research analyst, becoming the department’s IT specialist in 2005. A Packers fan who grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Dan was known for the green and gold memorabilia on display in his office.

Colleagues pointed to many contributions Dan made to the department throughout his career. Among the most recent, during the COVID-19 pandemic Dan was integral to helping psychiatry providers provide telehealth easily and effectively.

Psychiatry administrator Jeanne Lincoln, Vice Chancellor for Clinical Research Chris Kratochvil, MD, Geriatric Division Director Steven Wengel, MD, Psychiatry Research Manager Brigette Vaughan, Chair Howard Liu, MD, family members and longtime co-workers spoke at the memorial event on June 3 — which would have been Jacques’s 73rd birthday.

Dr. Liu, who worked with Dan for 12 years, remembered him as a kind, patient and extraordinarily personable colleague.

“He was always willing to help, even if the request was not directly in his area of responsibility,” Dr. Liu said. “He also was a keeper of countless memories during his five decades of membership in our department.” 

Vaughan said she wished everyone could have known the prankster side of Dan.

“He was the guy who carried a pocketful of rubber bands so he could walk by your office and shoot them at you, or who brought beautiful flowers from his garden or left small candies on your desk for no reason, never taking credit,” she said.

Barb Harrison, medical scheduler, worked with Dan for 26 years. She said he would always bring her kohlrabi or German turnips when he found them at farmer’s markets.

Celeste Akers, behavioral health connection lead, remembers all the vegetables Dan would share from his garden and the souvenirs he would bring back from his vacations. 

“Dan generously donated to our departmental and community causes,” Akers said. “He would always offer a ‘good morning’ and ‘goodbye’ greeting to everyone in their offices, even when very few of us were left working in person during the pandemic. And he was always willing to help, even when he was busy with big projects.”

Cynthia Sands, department operations lead, worked with Dan for 22 years. She was one of many employees who would find fresh flowers from his garden on her desk.

Along with the flowers, Sands said she knew that Dan would be willing to help in any way needed.

“He will be truly missed by so many, and I will cherish the times we would spend just visiting,” Sands said.

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