Jacob Robert Mauer, 20, of Ellicott City, MD, died suddenly on June 1, 2019.
Born September 20, 1998, Jacob was the first of three sons born to Andrew Kenneth Mauer and Thea Rae McGann Mauer. He was a creative young man, balanced on that threshold between childhood and adulthood, who embraced music and video games, collected bottle caps, and who loved animals, but understood already the true value of family game nights and holidays were not for what they meant or celebrated, but for the opportunity they offered to spend time celebrating and enjoying with family, friends and the pets he loved.
A 2016 graduate of Centennial High School, Jacob proceeded to earn his A.A. in Business Management from Howard Community College in December, 2018 and was employed at LeeLynn’s Dining Room and Lounge in Ellicott City at the time of his death while he planned the next steps in his education.
Formerly, Jacob worked at Wegman’s in Columbia and gained experience with the various tasks that early employment often requires of young people: stacking shelves, handing out samples, working as a cashier and as a cart jockey. But it was when he joined the staff at LeeLynn’s in 2018 that he flourished not only from the experience, but from the work culture afforded by the “family” atmosphere of the restaurant’s staff and management, where he felt “loved, appreciated, and wanted,” says Thea, as he advanced from being a busboy to the manager of the bussers and more recently, started interacting with patrons more through occasional work as a host.
Music created a soundtrack to Jacob’s life. He began violin lessons as a child, which he had stopped but recently had expressed interest in picking up again, notes his mother. He had dabbled with an electric guitar, but it was the ocarina, a type of ancient vessel flute made of glazed, fired clay gifted to him by his grandparents for his high school graduation, that Jacob’s family and friends will remember him playing. “He mastered it,” says grandfather Nicolo DiGirolamo of the hand-held instrument which, with practice, produces hauntingly beautiful notes evocative of the Aztec and Mayan cultures.
The musician who created soulful sounds with the ocarina equally appreciated listening to and sharing music with friends and family. “He appreciated it all,” recalls his mother, when asked if there was a specific type of music that Jacob gravitated toward. He gave his ears to genres that spanned from popular 80’s music to the alternative rock of Blue October; rap (a recent Childish Gambino concert with brother Alexander [Xander] will be a special memory of his); and even classical. Jacob’s father recalled recently trying to work from home while being distracted by Jacob playing Beethoven’s “Für Elise” too loud over speakers, but couldn’t bring himself to ask Jacob to turn it down: “When your kid is playing classical…how do you stop that?”
But it was through Pink Floyd that father and son found common ground and bonded over the British rock band with a cross-spectrum of progressive to psychedelic beats, and lately, he shared a keen interest in mid-century country artist Tennessee Ernie Ford with his brother, because Ford embodied “the best part of country without the bad parts, and he loved the ‘silly’ parts,” of the artist’s personality and repertoire, recalls Xander.
Jacob’s parents describe him as “wicked smart,” even though, like many young people, he “did not always use his smarts in the best ways.” Still, Jacob’s grandmother, Margaret (“Maggie”) DiGirolamo, remembers when Jacob “created a cardboard city, complete with furnished buildings and tunnels” in his grandparents’ basement, and describes scripts Jacob would write to narrate Kung Fu videos, asking family members to act out the parts. Cooking was a hobby that Jacob loved, says Thea, describing his efforts as “creative” although Andrew laughs, “I would not eat anything he cooked.”
Jacob recognized and was supportive of the growing research regarding the use of cannabis in the medical community. He “did his homework” on the pros and cons of THC vs. CBD, the active components of cannabis, “and he knew the benefits of both,” says his father. “He made us think about how we talk about marijuana use in the U.S.” today, but he eschewed the use of other recreational drugs. When asked what sort of business endeavor Jacob might have one day pursued, Xander speculates that Jacob might have one day opened a marijuana dispensary and he would continue to advocate for recreational marijuana use and finding ways to utilize medical marijuana for a wider variety of chronic and mental illness.
He was a budding writer, a craft which helped him with his occasional struggles with depression. During high school, he was on the staff of the Wingspan, Centennial High’s student newspaper. As much as writing helped Jacob find solace through difficult periods, he appreciated the words of others, and reading Jacob’s favorite poem, Andrew Seeger’s “I Have a Rendezvous with Death” might lead one to wonder if the poet, who also faced an early death, created stanzas which held portentous insight for Jacob.
With a sense of humor alternately described as “dry,” “witty,” and “sarcastic at times,” Jacob could walk into a room and make anyone laugh, says Andrew. “Everyone looked to him to make them laugh,” Thea agrees. His family describes Jacob’s bent toward long, rambling jokes, especially one about “Boardwalk Fries,” which he loved to start telling at random moments such as during a lull in Thanksgiving dinner conversation, and others in which “the only one [enjoying] the joke was him,” laughs Thea. Xander and his brother shared a fondness with “stupid, inside jokes” that often born of time shared with the third member of their “best” friend group, Rane Dellinger.
Rane and Jacob had been best friends since their Freshman year at Centennial, after a school prank landed them both in trouble, but for which Rane tried to take complete responsibility for. Dellinger’s willingness to take the fall led to a brotherly bond between the two young men, which they eventually opened up to include the younger Xander in. The friendship and antics of the three led them to note that someday, they might “be the death of one another,” says Xander, a prediction that now seems so poignant in the way that some might say it came to fruition. Perhaps, but Xander, who was present at the time of his brother’s death, is adamant that “as awful as the circumstances [of Jacob’s death] were, he died as peacefully as one can, happy and surrounded by his friends,” and, Xander notes, “he wouldn’t want us to be worried or too upset. He’d want people to know that wherever he is, he’s at peace and happy.”
In addition to his parents, Jacob is survived by brothers Alexander Maurice Mauer and youngest brother Nicholas Wilhelm Mauer; maternal grandparents Margaret and Nicolo DiGirolamo of Laurel, MD; Kenneth and Doris McGann of Battle Creek, MI; paternal grandparents William and Martha Mauer of Bowie, MD; a great-grandmother, Lois McGann of Holmes Beach, FL; Thea’s siblings: Kenneth (Kage) McGann, Jr.; Kyle McGann; and Katherine Setler; and Andrew’s siblings: Jennifer Mauer and William Mauer. He leaves behind three pets: a cat, Alice; a bearded dragon, Sammy; and the beloved dog, Nala, who was the culmination of a lifetime of a boy’s wishes to have a dog by his side and who found her way to the family from a local shelter in 2016. He is also survived by many members of his extended family. Jacob was predeceased by an aunt, Elizabeth Anne Mauer, in 2018.
A Celebration of Life will be held June 13, 2019 from 3-5 p.m. at LeeLynn’s Dining Room & Lounge, 9495 Old Annapolis Rd Suite A, Ellicott City, MD.
In lieu of flowers, the Mauer’s are requesting that donations be made to the MD SPCA as a way to honor the young man who loved all animals, but dogs in particular, and who hated to see or know of any sort of mistreatment of any animal. His family knows that Jacob would have always been an advocate for animals.
Donations can be made via the MD SPCA website, at www.mdspca.org; checks can be made out to “Maryland SPCA” and sent “In Memory of Jacob Mauer” directly to Development Department, MD SPCA, 3300 Falls Rd., Baltimore, MD 21211.