Benjamin James Jarvis Jr.

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Benjamin James Jarvis Jr. arrived into this world on Nov. 26, 1941, to parents Benjamin James Jarvis and Margaret (Greta) Shiel Jarvis. And on June 7, 2022, he departed for his final adventure. 

Ben grew up surrounded by loving parents, his older sister Margaret (Beth) Jarvis, and his extended family of grandparents and aunts and uncles in Linden, N.J., a place dear to his heart and often in his memories. Ben proudly served in the United States Navy in the early 1960s, and this may have been the seed that grew into his lifelong love of travel. As much as Ben loved life in the Navy, he finished his stint and came home to marry his first wife Karen, with whom he had three children, Heidi, Wendy, and Ben. He married a second time, to Donna, before marrying Paula (Hovanas) Jarvis in 1980, and having a fourth child, Andy. Ben spent the rest of his life with Paula, and she was there, faithfully caring for him to the end of his life. Ben worked with animals early in his life, as a dog groomer extraordinaire, before entering the construction field as an industrial asbestos insulator. And in 2004—between stints as a boat builder and a dairy farmer—he retired from the construction business. Ben moved to Wisconsin with his wife Paula and son Andy, where he lived until the end of his days. 

Ben was predeceased by his parents, Ben and Greta Jarvis, his grandparents, and his aunts and uncles, all of whom were held tightly within his heart. 

He is survived by his sister Beth; wife Paula; and his children, Heidi Jarvis Smallidge, Wendy Sinclair, Benjamin James Jarvis III, and Andy Jarvis; as well as a number of cousins; and a special friend of the family, Kate Kann, a person he and his wife Paula loved like a daughter. He is survived by his dog Murphy as well. 

Of course, none of the dates and facts above tell you anything about Ben. Not the important stuff. Ben loved a good joke (and sometimes a bad joke as well) and when you made him laugh it often ended with a hug and an “Aw, I sure do love you!” Ben hugged everyone­—hugs that let you feel his love, as sure as you could feel his arms around you. Ben loved a good adventure—he was always ready to get on his motorcycle or into his red van to travel to Maine, or Oklahoma, or Washington State, or Southern California, or Las Vegas to see family and friends. When Ben rolled out of the driveway in Bloomington, you knew where he was going, but you were never quite sure where he’d end up. 

Ben loved projects. Construction projects around the house and art projects in his workshop were both embraced with a curious playfulness, and always completed with skill and his own unique flair. Ben was an artist, and everything he created was imaginative and well-crafted and something not quite like anything ever seen before. 

Ben looked for the fun in everything. He’d tell you about the fun of installing insulation at Disney Land, or on the base where the Space Shuttle was housed, or on the Alaskan pipeline; and listening to his stories, it would never occur to you to think about the hard work those jobs entailed to keep the family going. Ben worked long hours to support his family without a word about his own sacrifice. And speaking of stories, Ben was a storyteller, par excellence, and he shared many a story passed along to him from his own parents and grandparents. Family members from generations ago were brought to life for Ben’s children and grandchildren through his stories, and his favorite saying was that of his Grandfather George: “never sacrifice a good story for the sake of the truth.” Toward the end of his life, he told the family that he did not need to have a funeral service, but if a funeral were planned, we were to hire a young woman dressed in a red gown, to walk in silently with a single red rose and lay it upon his casket, sniffle, then turn and leave never saying a word. Ben will be laid to rest in Sun Prairie. And don’t be surprised if you see a single red rose laid upon his grave.

Ben loved his dogs and always had one by his side. Each period of his life could be denoted by which dog he had at the time. And Ben was a Christian. He was not perfect, but he strived to live the kind of life he felt a Christian should. He sought forgiveness for the mistakes he made—because he made a few, as everyone does—and when he passed away, he was at peace in his heart and with his Lord. Ben loved his friends, family, and neighbors from all walks of life, backgrounds, and beliefs as he felt he was instructed to do. 

These are the things about Ben that mean something. These are the things that we will truly miss. 

“I am pieces of all the places I have been and all the people I have loved. I’ve been stitched together by song lyrics, book quotes, adventure. Late night conversations, moonlight, and the smell of coffee…” -Brooke Hampton

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