Diane Lewis Jarvis, born 11/9/53
Eugene Peyton Jarvis, born 1/27/55
Helen Greer Jarvis, born 5/19/64
Elsie is a true Virginian, an old-style Virginian from the interior
of the state. Her mother died when she was six-years-old and she was
raised by her father who taught her the gentle life. After his retirement
as a Latin Professor, his lifes work was as secretary of the
American Peony Society. He published the quarterly Peony Society Bulletin.
He nurtured a lovely garden of peonies, crossed them to achieve new
varieties and sold modest numbers of peony roots. Two of the more
famous peonies he developed were named Marion Furnival (after his
wife) and Dunlora (his mothers birthplace). His home and garden
bordered the scenic Rapidan River in the tiny Virginia hamlet of Rapidan.
Until he died in 1965 he was a living, breathing inspiration to those
of us who are caught up in the work-a-day world.
In later years it seemed unreal to imagine that I was in the hospital
with a simple duodenal ulcer, the most common type of ulcer. That
was 40 years before the discovery of Zantac which would have stopped
my ulcer overnight. The doctors at the time felt the best treatment
was to put ulcer patients in the tranquility of a hospital and control
our diet. The hospital where I met Elsie was certainly more relaxing
than life as a deck officer on a destroyer where I had spent most
of the previous four years.
Elsie remains loyal to her famous alma mater, Johns Hopkins University
in Baltimore where she received her undergraduate degree and her nursing
degree from the prestigious College of Medicine. In a 12 year residency,
how many patients did she care for in her emergency room, that caldron
of human pathos?
Then she joined the Navy as an Ensign, and worked several years at
the Portsmouth Naval Hospital where we met.
After our brief romance at the hospital, Elsie and I had a simple
wedding in nearby Williamsburg, Virginia. It was all the Navy would
permit, one weekend away from duty, not enough time to plan nor include
our parents which was unfortunate. Elsies Chief Nurse even at
first refused her the weekend off, saying that too many nurses were
getting married and leaving the service. Finally, to carry out our
weekend wedding plans, I had to get permission from the Captain of
the hospital with a man-to-man approach.
Elsie learned the value of friendship from her upbringing. Whenever
Elsie made a friend it was for life; her old friends would always
keep popping up. She would never forget that next-door neighbor in
Palo Alto, where she lived many years ago. In fact, many years after
moving to nearby Atherton she still did her weekly grocery shopping
back at that little homey Midtown Market on Middlefield Road in Palo
Alto. Elsie is without pretensions; she takes pride in her openness;
what you see is what she is. She would usually say whatever came to
her mind, sometimes an untoward remark.
Elsies role model was her Aunt Christina who had a country home
not too far from Rapidan, with ponds and a group of peacocks promenading
around, occasionally spreading their tail feathers showing their finery.
Aunt Christina was a grande dame of the country, a very outspoken
lady never hesitating to speak her piece. Her estate was in the tiny
hamlet of Cuckoo, Virginia. I irreverently referred to her as Aunt
That says it all about my mentality at the time. I just didnt
have time to soak in the culture of that region or what little was
remaining of the old culture. Also, that life-style seemed to be diametrically
opposed to my pursuits. I was always looking forward with scarcely
a backward glance at my past. I had worked all my life to better myself.
The question is, Who is right, who is wrong? The answer
is, No one. Elsie was always accepting of things as they
were, of old friends be they modest or eccentric. They were enough.
They were what you started out with, they are what you have, they
are what you come back to.
After I was over the hump and WILTRON was successful, due in part
to Elsies moral support, patience and physical stamina, I had
time for more personal life and this is when our difference in cultures
caught up with Elsie and me and we decided to go our separate ways.
Our divorce was final in 1972.
Elsie still makes yearly visits to her home in Rapidan from where
she can see the Blue Ridge Mountains, a view her father loved so much
as his scenic backdrop. She can see the railroad track winding into
the mountains and remember her fathers long-time love affair
with the trains that passed by his house. He recognized every type
of train and would listen to each one as it passed by and rumbled
into the distance.
It is interesting how our son, Eugene, and even our daughter Helen
to some extent, picked up Elsies friends-for-life tradition.
For better or for worse their old friends keep popping up and are
never lost track of.
Our mutually agreeable divorce didnt end our friendship, no
exceptions there to Elsies tradition. In addition to our three
children in common, Elsie has taken a friendly interest and some pride
in my activities in business and as a winemaker, and I hear from time
to time about her family in Virginia.