Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of “Faces of Kanab” columns in which the author features local area residents who are willing to be interviewed and tell their story. The author believes that everyone has a story to tell and prefers people who are not necessarily well known or otherwise influential and any background is welcome. Residents who would like to propose a “Face of Kanab” are encouraged to contact the author, Phil Clark, at desertphil@gmail.com for consideration in future features.

 

John Jacobs is almost a lifelong resident of the Kanab area. Before he was born, his parents first visited Kanab in the 1960s. His family moved to Fredonia, Arizona, from Heber, Utah in 1975, when he was two years old.

When he was 11, the family moved to Kanab and he’s lived here ever since, raising a family of six children, three boys and three girls, and one new granddaughter.

Many locals know Jacobs from his work at the annual Western Legends Roundup. For about 20 years he entertained audiences with stories about Kanab’s Hollywood history. He loves history and learned a lot from Jackie Rife, a long time local resident and stunt double for Miss Kitty from the Gunsmoke TV series of the 1960s.

Jacobs enrolled in drama classes in high school and performed in melodramas at the ‘Old Barn’ in Kanab. He later worked at Parry Lodge in Kanab entertaining guests there. While growing up in Kanab, he didn’t think much about how unique it was to see actors and movies being filmed in the area. For him it was just ‘normal life’. Over time, he learned about the local Hollywood history and enjoys sharing his knowledge with visitors.

Growing up, he regularly watched the Grizzly Adams TV show and used to visit the bears from the show that were caged at Parry Lodge.

Over the years, he made some friendships with actors he came in contact with. Some of his favorite actors include Hugh O’Brian, who played Wyatt Earp and Dan Haggerty, who played in Grizzly Adams.

Having served in the U.S. Marine Corps, Jacobs could relate to O’Brian, since they both served in the Marines. Over time, they became good friends. Ed Faulkner and Clint Walker were also actors that he admired.

One of his favorite Hollywood stories is a scene from either Duel at Diablo or One Little Indian when several Indians were approaching on horseback in a line. One of the actors shot one shot at the first in line and all of them fell off their horses at the same time!

Jacobs’ day job is working at the Kanab Center for Kane County in the facilities department.

He maintains the facility and is responsible for setting up for various events that are hosted annually at the Center.

Before becoming an employee, he volunteered for five years and accumulated somewhere between 1800 and 2000 volunteer hours, doing most of what he now does for pay. For his extensive volunteer time, he earned the Silver Bowl Award, awarded to one person from each Utah county by the Governor of Utah.

He loves his job and says he has the best supervisor and co-workers he’s ever had. What he likes the most about his job is working with and meeting a variety of people.

He remembers when Kanab businesses issued “Christmas Bucks” during the holidays. The “Bucks” could be used at an annual auction to buy items donated by local businesses.

Jacobs would like to see this tradition return to Kanab because it was a fun way to support local businesses and the auction was a way to socialize and build community involvement.

When he’s not entertaining visitors or working at the Center, Jacobs loves hiking, camping and being outdoors. He served as a scoutmaster in the Boy Scouts of America for 28 years and has explored the area for years. He also served as a firefighter for the Bureau of Land Management.

His best friend since the age of four joins him in his passion for off-road racing and four-wheel drive rock crawling and has been the champion in the Western Rock Crawling and Baja racing championships. He has a Youtube and Amazon Prime Channel called Krawl Zone where viewers can watch his exploits at no charge.

Moss doesn’t grow on John’s feet. He likes to keep busy by racing and building things, including equipment for his racing endeavors. The more he keeps busy, the better it is for him. He is also the Toys for Tots coordinator for Kane County, providing toys for needy children at Christmas time.

When asked what his thoughts are about the future of Kanab, he believes that Kanab will keep growing. He hopes that the popularity of the area doesn’t result in Kanab losing its small-town charm, something that sets Kanab apart from other popular destinations. What he likes about Kanab is the small-town feel and how people help each other and get along regardless of their background and personal views. He remembers when Moab was how Kanab is now. He laments how Moab has become so commercialized that it has lost its small town charm.