Jaya Thomas Jacob

Date of Birth

January 2, 1945

Date of Death

August 25, 2015

Jaya Thomas Jacob, born January 2, 1945, passed away peacefully on August 25, 2015, at his home in Santa Barbara.

Thomas (aka Bunty) was born and raised in New Delhi, India where he attended St. Stephen’s College for his bachelor and master’s degrees in English. He came to the United States to attend graduate school at the Newhouse School for Journalism at Syracuse University where he met and married his wife, Mary. He worked as a freelance photographer for the India Tourism Development Corporation that enabled him to photograph the landscapes, monuments and people of his beloved India. Thomas and Mary settled in South Hadley, MA where he initially worked as the manager of Pier One Imports in Springfield, MA prior to joining the Holyoke Transcript Telegram (Holyoke, MA) as a photojournalist. When that newspaper closed its doors, Thomas was invited to make a career change and joined the salesforce of Valley Wines, a wine wholesaler in western Massachusetts.

After that Thomas was the wine buyer for Shamrock Liquors, which at the time was the largest chain of liquor stores in Massachusetts. While working for Shamrock, he started his own photography business which eventually grew into his full-time occupation. Thomas and his family moved to Santa Barbara in 1996. He worked at Goleta Camera until his declining health forced him into early retirement.

In retirement Thomas pursued his passions for journalism and photography. He read at least a dozen or more newspapers on-line every day and shared articles that he thought would be of interest via email with his friends in this country and around the world. Many friends charted the ups and downs of his health by the flow of email from him that appeared in their in-box. He thoroughly enjoyed keeping up with his journalistic interests as a commentator on news and events in the South Asia region for the Third World News program on local television, Channel 17. While his health prevented him from working in the darkroom that he loved so much, his computer became his new darkroom. Santa Barbara with its beautiful buildings, landscapes and festivals became the primary focus of his photographic endeavors. I Madonnari was always a favorite event and in recent years he became friends with many of the chalk artists who participate in it. He loved to share his photos of their work through Facebook and Flickr which he also used to share his photos of Santa Barbara’s Fiesta dancers.

Thomas will be remembered for his passion for photography and zest for life. He always had a camera in his hand and loved to give his photographs to others. Over the years many family and friends commented that his photographs are among their treasured favorites. He felt he was a lucky person who was able to turn his avocations (love of photography and wine) into his professions. He enjoyed cooking and sharing wine from his collection with family and friends around the table with good conversations about politics, art and music that would last long into the night. He loved all types of music although jazz and the blues were his favorite genres. He was a life-time member of the Santa Barbara Blues Society. His smile, sense of humor and generosity touched the lives of many.

He is survived by his wife Mary, son Rustum and his wife Stephanie, grandsons Elliot and Ethan, sister Piya, brother Nitya, nephew Aryaman, many cousins, and in-laws. A memorial service will be held on November 1. Donations may be made to Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care. Thomas was predeceased in death by his parents Velothil and Ayesha Jacob.


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