Helen McCartney Jacobs, 96, of Newtown Square, a nurse who retired in her 80s, died Dec. 5 of heart failure at Bryn Mawr Hospital.

A native of Central Pennsylvania, Mrs. Jacobs graduated from the Lewistown Hospital School of Nursing in Lewistown, Pa. In 1936, she married James Jacobs and moved to Philadelphia, where he was a draftsman for General Electric.

She took courses in psychiatric nursing and was on the staff of the Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital, a former psychiatric facility in West Philadelphia. Later, she worked in a nursing home in Newtown Square, and for many years was a private-duty nurse for patients on the Main Line and for residents of the Dunwoody Village retirement community in Newtown Square.

In the 1970s, Mrs. Jacobs spent several weeks abroad, caring for the wife of the U.S. ambassador to Belgium, said her daughter Louise.

Mrs. Jacobs enjoyed swimming and reading. After becoming legally blind in recent years, she enjoyed listening to books on tape and to National Public Radio.

In addition to her daughter, she is survived by a son, Jim; a sister; and a granddaughter. Her husband died in 1991.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at Dunwoody Village Auditorium, 3500 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square. Mrs. Jacobs had lived at Dunwoody for seven years.