Jefferson “Jeff” James Jarvis died on Tuesday, January 9, 2024, at his home in Bountiful, Utah due to complications from congestive heart failure.
Jeff was born June 8, 1944 in Hollywood, California, the second son of Army Air Corps Major John J. and wife Ellyn H. Jarvis. Raised in Fort Worth, Texas, Jeff was a 1962 graduate of Arlington Heights High School (AHHS). There he was the recipient of numerous honors including: National Merit Scholarship Finalist; President, American Legion Boys Nation (1961); All-District Quarterback; District 5A Track and Field Hurdles’ Champion (2 years); Winner of the James Holmes Memorial Award for excellence in sports and scholarship; President of the “J Club” (Letterman’s association); and, President, Allied Youth (AY) Society, a regional Southern States’ student sobriety organization. He was voted “Mr. AHHS” at the conclusion of his senior year.
He was appointed to the United States Air Force Academy in 1962. He was an annual selectee for the Commandant’s List (military merit) and an occasional member of the Dean’s List (scholastic merit). Jeff held both Squadron and Cadet 4th Group Staff assignments during his four years. He was a three-year varsity football player and letterman. He excelled in intramural Boxing and Handball. He was drummer for four years for a Cadet-organized Rock ‘n Roll dance band. Jeff graduated June 1966 with a Bachelor of Science degree, Engineering. Upon graduation he was commissioned a U.S. Air Force Second Lieutenant.
His initial assignments were to the USAF Security Service and AF Special Operations Group with duty tours in Alaska and Southeast Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos). He subsequently served a series of covert assignments with the Defense Intelligence Agency and the USAF Special Operations Group in the European Theater. His duties took him throughout Europe, the Mediterranean and the Near East. While stationed in Germany he earned his Master’s Certificate in Economics from the Frei Universitat, Berlin. He returned to the United States in 1975, an Air Force Captain assigned to the US Air Staff in Washington, D.C.
Jeff was an honors graduate at the Security Service training school in San Angelo, Texas. He was also the top graduate of his class at the US Army Covert/Counter-Intelligence training school formerly located in Baltimore, Maryland. He was a two-time recipient of the USAF Commendation Medal for meritorious achievement. He was awarded the Bronze Star during his service in Vietnam. His military group was also awarded the USAF Outstanding Unit Award with the coveted “V” for valor in action. He was an excellent marksman and strategist. He was honorably discharged from active duty in 1975.
Jeff was formerly married to Anne-Francoise Yschard of Paris, France, from 1971 to 1976. Their one child, Francois-Xavier Jarvis, died in a traffic accident near Woodbridge, VA, in 1989. A later-in-life convert to the LDS faith following his divorce, Jeff subsequently met, married, and was sealed to Donna Kaye Dickey on June 11, 1977, in Utah’s Salt Lake City LDS Temple.
Upon his separation from the Air Force in 1977, Jeff was first employed as a Business Consultant by the Accounting Firm of Peat, Marwick, Mitchell and Co. His career assignments included projects in California, Washington, D.C. and Newport, Rhode Island. He later accepted employment with Electronic Data Systems (EDS) in Dallas, Texas. His EDS career included job transfers to Texas, Washington, D.C., Virginia, Alabama and eventually Georgia. He first served EDS as a Systems Analyst, was subsequently promoted to Account Manager, then Regional Manager, and eventually to a Division Vice Presidency. Following an early retirement from EDS, Jeff formed his own engineering development company, Back Lot Technology LLC. Through the aegis of the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, he developed and patented a world-wide applicable active Radio Frequency Identification & Tracking system for personnel and inventory control (Patent #6690675).
Jeff was a fifth generation Texan. His Great Great Grandfather, Isaac Van Zandt, was appointed by General Sam Houston to be the new Republic’s Emissary (Ambassador) to the United States. There Isaac wrote the Treaty by which the Texas Republic joined the United States. Jeff’s Great Grandfather, James J. Jarvis, helped fund and move the institution now known as Texas Christian University (TCU) from Waco to Ft Worth, Texas. In concert with her husband, Jeff’s Great Grandmother, Ida Van Zandt, helped fund and form one of the original 17 historic U.S. Black colleges, Jarvis Christian College, at Hawkins, Texas.
Jeff’s Grandfather, Van Zandt Jarvis, was a former Mayor of Fort Worth and the head of TCU’s Board of Regents for almost 30 years. He was also a prominent North Texas cattleman, running herds on more than 26,000 acres at one time in three north Texas counties. Jeff’s father, John J. Jarvis, attended the Virginia Military Institute before World War II. John later graduated from Texas Tech University (B.S.) with a subsequent advanced degree from TCU (Master’s Degree, Behavioral Psychology). John himself began his postwar career as a cattleman. During World War Two, John served four years as a pilot and Squadron Commander in the U.S. Army Air Corps. John was awarded the USAF Air Medal for commanding the first trial flight of fighter aircraft over the Atlantic Ocean from Brazil to Africa to provide air cover for US Army Forces fighting in North Africa. John later served two years “flying the Hump” in the Indo-Burma-China Theater of War.
Jeff’s parents were a major influence on his life. Jeff’s mother was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate from TCU with a Master’s Degree in Sociology from Louisiana Tech. Both parents were ardent Christians who believed in active service to their fellow man. Following their example and counsel, at 65 years old Jeff formed PKN, a private, non-profit humanitarian organization dedicated to technology transfer for developing nations. PKN’s project focus included desalination, renewable energy generation and waste management. He later formed Falkon, LLC as a humanitarian organization to provide equestrian therapy for military and First Responder victims of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
As an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jeff held a number of Ward and Stake positions in ten different Wards in seven States during his years of church membership. Jeff’s church callings included Counselor in three Bishoprics, two Stake High Council assignments, six assignments as Ward Mission Leader, numerous assignments as a Gospel Doctrine Teacher, once as High Priest Group Leader, three times as a quorum Priesthood Instructor, twice as Assistant Scoutmaster and, ultimately as a Temple Worker at the Bountiful, Utah, Temple.
Jeff survived a year’s hospitalization for Polio as a child. He also suffered two major heart attacks in his post middle-age. The long-term effects of his childhood Polio returned to plague him in his senior years. His once sturdy body began to fail, exacerbated by repeated exposure to Agent Orange during his Vietnam War experience. That exposure caused him to eventually become a 100% fully Disabled Veteran. His polio also drastically affected his bones in his later life. At age 65 he suffered the first of an eight-year series of mobility setbacks including: both knee and both hip replacements, a series of life- threatening leg infections, various vein failures and broken bones. At one point he was hospitalized and confined to a wheelchair for almost one-year while undergoing extensive therapy for a shattered femur. These distractions eventually required the full-time use of walking aids.
Jeff was a lifelong archery enthusiast and licensed private pilot. At one time he hiked more than 700 miles on the Appalachian Trail in combined solo and Boy Scout Troop treks. Jeff was a voracious reader and modest art collector. He was always attentive to the call of duty from whatever direction it came, be it from home, military, or from his Church and Priesthood leaders.
Jeff was the author of a book of poetry and prose before his college graduation. In his post-retirement years he published a four book series of e-book adventure stories for young adults. The stories were drawn from his Special Operations experiences in the jungles of Southeast Asia. He loved “spinning yarns” for friends and family, but especially for his beloved grandchildren.
Jeff loved life. He strove to be a modern Renaissance man, adept in multiple disciplines - an athlete, a musician, a pilot, a scholar, an engineer, a poet, an author, an inventor, a world traveler, an outdoorsman, a hunter, a businessman, a philanthropist, an art collector, a teacher, a spy, a soldier, and spiritual guide. He cherished his childhood and high school friends, his Priesthood brethren, and the many new friends from multiple walks of life he met along the way. He was generous to all. He remained an inveterate, life-long optimist, and the only “depression” he ever experienced were the dips in the ground that he confidently strode across.
His greatest love was and always remained “My extraordinary wife Donna and my family through her.” His love for Donna, his eternal companion, was evident to all that knew them. He always referred to her as “a woman of uncommon grace and beauty, a great gift from Heavenly Father.” He was a fully committed disciple of his Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
His favorite literary quote was Robert Browning’s “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp else what’s a heaven for?”. His favorite scriptural quotes are from the Book of Mormon, Second Nephi, Chapter 25, verses 23 and 26.
Jeff was a man who cared deeply, fought valiantly, and served gratefully all his days. Of his many scholastic, sports, military, and professional awards, his proudest titles were those of Husband, Father, and Grandfather (“Paca”). His family and friends love him dearly and will remember him always.
He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Ellyn, and his son, Francois-Xavier.
He is survived by his beloved wife of 47 years, Donna; their children, Jon (Sara), Ben (Deanne), Dan (Sussan), and Kristyn (Joe); four direct grandchildren and two step-grandchildren; and his siblings, Jonathan, Janie, Jimmy, and Julie.
The funeral service will be held on January 20, 2024 at 11:00 am at the LDS Chapel at 3707 S 800 W, Bountiful, Utah. Friends and loved ones may visit with the family and attend the viewing at the chapel from 9:30 to 10:30 prior to the service. Burial will be at the Bountiful City Cemetery.
Services will be live-streamed and may be viewed by scrolling to the bottom of Jeff’s obituary page.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Jeff’s name to Utah Foster Care at https://utahfostercare.org/get-involved/donate/.