My father died on Saturday, April 8. He lived 97 years. Until struck with COVID, he had never had to stay in a hospital. In the last three months, he mustered all his strength to overcome the virus’ results: internal bleeding, then post-COVID pneumonia, then the side-effects of medication, and finally one more case of pneumonia. I curse the disease and all it does. He passed on peacefully last night after we — his entire family, the five of us — had the blessing of spending his last day with him, affirming our love.
I am writing this only for myself. I’m not writing it for him; he outlived everyone he knew. Neither am I writing it for you; I don’t expect you to read this, for you did not know him. I find such memorials for loved ones, including pets, in social media understandable but difficult, for I never know how to react. I do not expect you to. I simply want to memorialize my father, to leave a trace of his life connected with mine here. As an old newspaperman, I understand the value of the obituary more than the grave.
Darrell V. Jarvis was born in the tiny house on his grandfather’s rocky, dirt-poor farm up the holler behind the Methodist church in Weston, West Virginia. His parents were not much educated, Buck finishing the seventh grade, Vera not a lot more. They worked hard and moved often, following drilling crews to gas fields in West Virginia, Kentucky, and southern Illinois, my father attending eight schools along the way. His parents insisted that he and his brother — my late Uncle Richard, a church musician — attend college. My father graduated from the University of Illinois after completing a first stint of service in the Navy at the end of World War II. At U of I, he met my mother, Joan Welch, the daughter of a country doctor and a nurse in Lewistown, Illinois. They had two children: me and my sister, Cynthia, a Presbyterian minister. We lost our mother almost six years ago.
Darrell studied engineering but didn’t much like it. He preferred people. So, after serving in the Navy again in the Korean War, as a lieutenant on the destroyer USS Renshaw, he moved up as a “peddler” — his word — in the electronic and electrical industries, rising to be a VP of sales. He was on the road constantly, “with an airplane strapped to my backside,” and we moved constantly, from Illinois to Iowa to New Jersey to New York to…