Three-time public servant remembered

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jennifer Buzanowski
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Even after death J.J. continues to give back.

Hundreds of pills counted with precision rest in orange-tinted , white-capped prescription bottles. Piled a foot high, they run the length of a long table in the back of the refill pharmacy. Here John Jarvis, Jr., has left his final mark on Fairchild Air Force Base, as the pills sit waiting for patients who may have never known the care and attention to detail the volunteer pharmacy worker put into his work, as he's done for the last 20 years.

The fruits of his labor to prepare the necessary medications benefited patrons for more than a week after his passing.

Tech. Sgt. Mike Payne, the 92nd Medical Support Squadron's NCO in-charge of the refill pharmacy, first met Jarvis in 2005.

"J.J. would stay as long as he had work to do," Payne said, nodding toward the counter. "He would come in twice a week, but he was always willing to help out more. If we called him, he'd be here in 20 minutes."

But it wasn't just about getting the job done, said fellow pharmacy technician Tech. Sgt. Frances Gunn who worked with Jarvis for the last six years. Before the building was renovated in 2012 it needed extra attention to keep it maintained.

"J.J. would try to bring his tools in here to fix things himself. He was old school; when something broke you fixed it. We told him that we couldn't do that anymore - that we had to call to put in work orders. Sometimes we'd call to put in a work order to find out J.J. already did," said Gunn.

J.J.'s service to Fairchild didn't start as a volunteer; it started as an Airman. His wife, Anita, remembers J.J.'s time in the service fondly and that the Vietnam veteran was anything but shy.

"I first met him at an old courting dance," she recalled. "I was with my sister and brother-in-law. J.J. asked me to dance. He asked to take me home. My sister and brother-in-law followed us the 10 miles. He asked 'Will you marry me?' I thought he was kidding. When I saw him again he asked if I remembered what he has asked me.

"After three dates we were married," Anita added. "We were both crazy."

The couple shared 61 years together before J.J.'s death Jan. 26. They had a son; three grandchildren, triplets; and five great-grandchildren. J.J. and Anita also raised her sister's three children and were "grandparents" to their seven children and then their five children.

"He spoiled our grandchildren rotten. He'd sneak them candy," said Anita.

J.J. was medically retired after 23 years as a mechanic. He then became a civil servant in the then 92nd Transportation Squadron and served for another 20. After that he worked at the pharmacy for yet another 23 years.

J.J.'s hip had plagued him since he fell out of a tree at 9 years old and in his later years a cane complimented his sense of humor.

"He'd clown around, he sang songs, he joked, he'd give you a one-liner -- everyone loved him," Payne said. "Ten times a day people would ask at the window, 'Where's J.J.?' though he hadn't actually stood at the window the last couple of years."

J.J. was always there to help somebody else, said Anita.

"It made him feel more important, needed; it kept him young," said Anita. "To him, the pharmacy was the best place on Earth."