Pioneering realtor Bunny Jacob dead at 91

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By Denise Dunbar (Courtesy photo)

Prominent Alexandria realtor Virginia Lee Galloway “Bunny” Jacob died February 16 after an extended illness. She was 91.

Jacob received her distinctive nickname after she was born on Easter Sunday 1925 in Omaha, Neb. She moved to Alexandria in 1951 with her husband, James H.L. Jacob, to buy historic properties in the city. After her husband’s death in 1969, she became the principal broker at Jacob and Roberts Realtors, Inc.

Susan Anthony, a realtor at McEnearney and Associates, called Jacob a pioneer in an era and an industry that at the time was dominated by men.

“It was a small town and we were all boutique firms at the time. She was one of those firms,” Anthony said. “She was one of the original real estate companies in Alexandria.”

Jacob was a mentor to younger realtors and led by example, Anthony said.

“The young people [today], I’m so sorry that they don’t know her,” she said. “She didn’t care about your money. She didn’t care about who you were or who your father was. She cared about your integrity, your ethics and whether you were kind.”

Longtime business partner Suzanne Backus described Jacob as a wonderful person, “who told you exactly what she thought and she was always right.”

“Bunny didn’t know how to use the computer and I didn’t have any customers,” Backus said. “[We] were partners forever,” most recently at Long and Foster.

Alexandria realtor Sally Z. Harper, of McEnearney and Associates, played bridge with Jacob and said she “beat to her own little drum.”

“She was a great real estate agent,” Harper said. “She was a good property manager. She was a good bridge player. She smoked like a fiend. Bunny was Bunny. You loved her for the way she was.”

In addition to her business career, Jacob was involved with a number of local organizations, from the board of architectural review to the Hunting Creek Garden Club and Inova Alexandria Hospital. Jacob was one of the founding members of the Alexandria YWCA, which later became The Campagna Center, and also served as president of the national YWCA organization.

Jacob is survived by a daughter, Anne G. Tyree, son James L. Jacob and daughter-in-law Barbara B. Jacob, grandchildren Andrew and Tamara Tyree, Christopher Tyree, Erin Jacob, Alex Jacob and great-grandson Andrew Tyree, Jr., and her brother, Dr. John A. Galloway.

Services were held at 11 a.m. Friday at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

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