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Dana Andrew Jakubowski

1946 - 2013, Santa Barbara

Dana Andrew Jakubowski passed away peacefully on Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at Serenity House, in Santa Barbara, following a long illness. His charm and irreverent wit were intact till the last.

Dana was born on May 10, 1946 in St. Louis, Missouri, to Frank and Marie Jakubowski, the youngest of four children, which included twins, Sharon and Susan, and brother, Frank Edward. Because Dana’s father was a career military man, the family spent many years in various states and abroad, eventually settling in Tucson, AZ.

The experience of living in Japan and Germany engendered in Dana an interest in foreign cultures, languages and literature. While living in Okinawa, Dana became highly proficient in karate, attaining the level of “black belt,” with Dana serving as demonstrator for his “Sensei.”

But, it was Germany which most affected him, ultimately influencing his field of university study, and career: German Language and Literature. Dana attended the University of Arizona, graduating with a B.A. in Education, with an Emphasis in German. During the course of his studies he received a prestigious scholarship from the U. of A. to study German Pedagogy in Hamburg, Germany, for a year. He was accepted in the Master’s program of the German Department at UCSB, where he was the only non-native speaker in the program, and completed his M.A. there.

Dana was a popular German teacher at U.C.S.B., Santa Barbara City College, and Ventura College for many years. He could often be seen on campus wearing his signature beret, and carrying his guitar to class, where he would encourage his students to practice the sounds of German through song. Invariably, one of his young students would show up to class sporting a beret of his own! Dana was a natural teacher, and had a sincere fondness for young people, especially those whom he saw were struggling.

Between his stints of serious university study, Dana enjoyed many colorful experiences. While in his early twenties, he worked as an actor and stunt man at “Old Tucson Film Studios” in Arizona, the location for many Western movies. He not only performed in daily stunt shows for tourists, but he acted and did horseback stunt-riding in innumerable films, where he met many of the popular actors of the time, from John Wayne to Frank Sinatra.

Dana’s abiding passion was playing music, specifically bass guitar. He played with several successful touring bands based in Tucson in the 1960’s, ‘70s, and ‘80s. One novelty group which toured throughout California, was called “Chuck Wagon and the Wheels.” Dana always made playing music a part of his life, taking up the violin, double bass, ukulele, and most recently, the Gypsy guitar, in the Django Reinhardt style. He also developed an interest in building guitars, and painstakingly constructed several, including child-size guitars for his grandchildren.

One of the great joys of Dana’s later life was becoming a grandfather to his two step-grandchildren, Annika and Sebastian Small. They adored listening to him singing and playing guitar for them while they danced and plucked at his heartstrings.

Dana is survived by his loving life-partner of 25 years, Kerry Mistretta, step-children, Giancarlo Mistretta (Lisa McGill) and Gina Mistretta Small (Luke) and children, his father and brother, Frank and Edward Jakubowski, of Tucson, AZ, and sister, Sharon Samu, as well as several nephews and nieces.

The family wishes to thank Dr. Nicholas Nissen, of Cedars Sinai Hospital, in L.A., for his devoted care of Dana, Dr. Michael Polo, at Sansum Clinic for his consistent and positive treatment, Dr. Michael Bordofsky, and the incomparable and loving care of all the nurses and staff at Serenity House, where Dana was privileged to spend his last six weeks.

Please make any donations in Dana’s memory to Serenity House in Santa Barbara.

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