Dorrit Jean Jacob of Green Valley, Ariz., who was known as Bimbi, died peacefully at home on Jan. 15, 2024. No cause of death was reported. She was 88.
Bimbi was born in Berlin, Germany on June 13, 1935 to Hans Seidler and Maria Christina Seidler. Her father, who was Jewish, and her mother, who was Catholic, fled Germany in 1938, taking Bimbi and leaving behind a thriving textile business. “After a very long boat ride,” her daughter, Julia, said, “they arrived in the United States and settled in Forest Hills, Queens, N.Y.”
There are two competing stories in the family as to how Dorrit came to be called Bimbi. Either it was a play on the Italian word bambino, a word common in the family’s New York environment, or it was an abbreviation of the German Bimbilein, an endearment used by her mother. In either case, her New York City school friends had a field day teasing her about her name.
Bimbi’s mother, an accomplished sculptor who was known as Chrissy, came to Provincetown in the late 1940s to study with a woman teacher. That started the family’s long relationship with the Outer Cape, where they began to spend most summers.
Bimbi graduated from Forest Hills High School in 1954 and studied fashion at the Parsons School of Design, graduating in 1958. Her first job was at her father’s new company, Seidler’s Cravat, on Madison Avenue in Manhattan, where she met Vernon Jacob, who worked as a delivery man for the company. The couple married on May 2, 1959.
In 1964 Vernon and Bimbi had a summer house built for them in Provincetown, an A-frame structure set high off the road on Bradford Street. They spent summers there until 1970, and their vacations later moved to a house on Browns Neck Road in Wellfleet, which they had built in 1972. They settled there year-round in 1996.
Bimbi studied painting with Lois Griffel. In the early 1980s, she and her friend Lee Ann Fanning opened the Jacob Fanning Gallery in Wellfleet, where Bimbi sold some of her own paintings. The gallery featured the work of a range of important artists, including Lynn Schaler, whose partially hand-painted aquatint etchings can be found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, among other museums in the U.S. and Europe.
The gallery opened in a small building at the Wellfleet pier that also housed a coffee shop. Then Bimbi, Fanning, and Jeannie Bissette pooled their resources to buy a building on Bank Street. The gallery operated for 27 years until Bimbi retired in 2007 and followed her mentor, Griffel, to Green Valley.
Bimbi transitioned from painting beachscapes of the Cape to the mountains and deserts of Arizona, but she maintained her ties to Wellfleet, sending small canvases to be sold at Celeste Fine Art on Commercial Street. She put down her paintbrush sometime before her 80th birthday.
According to her family, Bimbi had many lifelong friends from her years in New York, the Outer Cape, and Green Valley for whom she cared deeply, maintaining close contact throughout her life.
“My fondest memory of my mother,” Julia said, “was living a life on the beach.” Bimbi took Julia on excursions to Newcomb Hollow and to Hatch’s Harbor in Provincetown. “She’d drive a truck, take air out of the tires, and drive off road,” Julia said. “Our time together on the beach was wonderful.”
Bimbi is survived by her husband, Vernon Jacob of Green Valley, Ariz.; her daughter, Julia Jacob of Green Valley; her granddaughter, Rachel Ruiz of Glendale, Calif.; and her grandson, Kaleb Rogers of La Paz, Bolivia.
She was predeceased by her daughters Barbra Ruiz and Dianne Jacob.
The family plans a memorial for later this year.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Bimbi’s name to the Animal League of Green Valley or the Ironwood Pig Sanctuary in Marana, Ariz., where she sponsored a pig named Duncan.