Following a highly successful career in the aerospace industry launched with a bachelor’s degree at Chadron State College, Scottsbluff native John Jacox and his wife, Karyn, also a CSC graduate, are helping future generations of students as members of The Chadron State Foundation’s Living Legacy Society.
A 2013 recipient of CSC’s Distinguished Alumni Award and 2015 commencement speaker, John earned a bachelor’s degree in math and physics from Chadron State in 1971 and a master’s in aerospace engineering from Texas A&M University. In the course of a nearly 40-year career in the aerospace industry, he specialized in managing large, technically complicated, high-value engineering programs, as well as developing new business and managing small businesses.
Working with some of the largest American aerospace companies, John managed U.S. Department of Defense programs with total value of more than $320 million, including design, development and testing of propulsion or aerodynamics for advanced weapons systems.
Now a resident of Indianapolis, John is also the owner, since 1996, of the Cleveland Model and Supply Company, the oldest continuously operating model airplane company in the world.
Family ties are part of John’s connection to Chadron State. His first acquaintance with Chadron came when his mother was completing her degree at CSC in the late 1950s. An older sister also graduated from the college.
John says the family connections, and a realization that the $1,200 he had saved for college would not cover the cost of his intended study of automobile design at a school in California, led to his decision to attend Chadron State and enroll in pre-law. But after learning aeronautics was being used in automotive design he decided to become an aeronautical engineer, switched majors and plunged into a full load of math and science courses.
“I didn’t go (to CSC) for a good time. I went there for an education. For me Chadron was an ideal place,” he says.
After three years at Chadron State, John transferred to Texas A&M to complete his education in the aerospace engineering program, but took an overload of classes and was placed on academic probation, so he returned to Chadron to finish his bachelor’s degree. That’s when he met his future wife, Karyn Foster, a student from Alliance. After graduating in 1976, Karyn went on to a successful career in banking and finance. The couple have now been married for 47 years.
In addition to including Chadron State in their estate plan, the Jacoxes have established a two-year, renewable, full-tuition scholarship for a junior math or science student with a GPA of 3.5 or better.
The couple desires to help others achieve their goals and find success. John says he wants the scholarship to go to someone with the same kind of drive and focus that propelled him through school and his career.
“I wouldn’t have accomplished the things that I did in my life if it hadn’t been for the quality of education I got at Chadron State College,” John says. “Karyn and I wanted to do something that would have a lot of positive impact on people.”
“John and Karyn’s commitment to join the Living Legacy Society at Chadron State will have a huge impact for generations to come,” says Ben Watson, Chief Executive Officer of The Chadron State Foundation. “Future generations of Eagles will follow in their footsteps. John and Karyn have had exciting and successful careers and their willingness to help future students realize their goals are attainable through Chadron State is as remarkable as they are.”