Reece Jarvis was born in Bryce on Feb. 26, 1934, to parents Silas F. and Ruth Webster Jarvis. Silas farmed part-time, and both parents taught school. Reece was the second child, joining sister Gwen.
Although he was born healthy and strong, at 6 months he contracted infant paralysis, known as polio. As he grew, Reece didn’t pay much attention to his “problem”; he knew he couldn’t run as fast as his friends, but he pretty much did most everything else except participate in athletic events.
His parents expected Reece to do chores and work the same as anyone else. Gwen passed away when Reece was 3. He remembers it as being a very sad time for their family. This was during the time his dad was bishop of the Bryce Ward, where he served for eight years. His dad later confided that if he hadn’t been doing as much as he was in the church, he was afraid the devil might have taken him over. Little sister Barbara was just a few months old and helped the family over this trial.
When he was 10, Reece had his first real job, which was driving his dad’s truck pulling Waldo DeWitt’s hay baler. He worked with Waldo, Chuck and Solon Beals and, later, Arlen Draper. Reece recollected they were broken down about half the time — but it sure was fun going to Bush’s Hardware for parts and to have a refreshing cold soda pop.
Reece combined second and third grade in one year in Bryce. During the fourth grade, the family moved to Pima and, by this time, he knew how to drive a car, cut hay with John Cosper’s horse-drawn cutter, bale hay, irrigate, chop cotton and milk cows.
Sad to leave his friends in Bryce, he made new lifetime friends in Keith Crockett, Clarence McBride and Dennis Cluff. Keith and Clarence were good in sports and music. Reece participated in band and choir and followed the sports as team manager. Clarence, Keith and Reece worked toward and achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, motivated by their scoutmaster, Pat Patterson, later graduating with the Pima High School class of 1951.
As a little guy, Reece wanted to be a cowboy-lawyer. He regretted never becoming a lawyer. He didn’t actually become a cowboy, either, but his love of horses and cowboy life never dwindled since the age of 6, when his dad gave him his first mare. For about 15 years, he and Keith Lines went on roundups for their friends, Darrell Cluff, Lynn Skinner and Gary Bryce.
Farm work kept Reece busy every summer until he was around 16, then he worked a summer for Weech & Taylor Construction, mixing mortar for bricklaying, making cement blocks and other aspects of building homes.
As a Boy Scout, and someone who loved the out-of-doors, Reece hiked up and down Mount Graham many times, rode horses up and back, and snowshoed in during the winter. He did a lot of hiking the two summers he worked for the Forest Service, fighting fire and working the trails. Another couple of summers were spent with the Highway Department in the Dos Cabezos and Texas Canyon areas.
He and friends went on missions for the LDS Church during 1954-56 — Clarence to England, Keith to Uruguay and Reece to the Southern states.
Reece’s college experience was two years at Eastern Arizona Junior College, a semester at the University of Arizona and two quarters at BYU.
It was while he was at EAJC the second time that he met Anna Jane Lazear from Pine, and they married June 11, 1958, in the Arizona Temple in Mesa.
At this time, Reece was milking cows for his dad. Then in the fall, Postmaster Zola Buffington retired, and the person in line did not want the job. Reece took a test and became the postmaster, serving for 30 years. Even after retirement, with helpers, he operated a contract route six days a week.
Service in the LDS Church had been continuous since his mission days in a variety of callings, including bishop of the College Ward, then first bishop of the newly created Pima 4th Ward. He and Anna Jane taught temple preparation classes and served more than a decade as ordinance workers — 10 in the Mesa Temple and in The Gila Valley Temple since its opening.
Along with roundups, Reece listed as hobbies and recreation: riding four-wheelers, motorcycle rides across country with McBride, opening and closing quail season with Keith McBride for more than 40 years, quail and deer hunting with son, Ryan Jarvis, Gale Shurtz, Bob Brown and Dennis Lunt, traveling and attending musical events with Anna Jane. Family campouts were also favorite pastimes.
Community service would be the defining phrase for Reece’s life. He sang countless solos for receptions, funerals, church and patriotic gatherings. He was the PHS football announcer for 35 years. He was a member of the Pima Volunteer Fire Department for 30-plus years, during which time he became an EMT, then later used that talent working for Kord’s Ambulance Service.
Reece helped in the Pima Chamber of Commerce and was on the board for 13 years, serving as president. Many improvements were accomplished during his tenure, one of which was being the liaison between the chamber, Town Council and roping club. After considerable research and consultation with experts, he drew up the plans and physically helped build the rodeo arena.
Reece served on the Town Council for five years and was honored by the town as Citizen of the Year. He was on the committee to form the Eastern Arizona Museum, was a founding member of the board, where he served for 50 years, having filled the offices of vice president and president along the way. Reece and Anna Jane headed up the now famous Cowboy Breakfasts from the inception of Heritage Days until 2010.
Reece summed up his good fortune thus: “As a youth, I had great parents, and to go along with them there were so many good teachers and role models in school, church and community. As a young man, I met my sweetheart, who has been my strength and help for over 55 years. We have been so blessed to live here in this Valley, raise our family, pursue our dreams and hobbies, enjoying the association with many good people along life’s journey.”
Reece said he felt it was an honor to have served in the various ways he has, but he considers his greatest honor to be the father of his and Anna Jane’s children: Reecia Ann (Larry Staples), Karen Michelle (Brian Scott), Carolyn Yvonne (Dr. Dennis Cathcart), Ryan Fielding (Fay Larson), Juliana (Dr. Josh Smith) and Jordan Lazear (Shanna Shotts). From these six couples have come 23 grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and more on the way.
Reece passed away Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. He was buried in the Central Cemetery, following the final alarm being sounded by the Pima Volunteer Fire Department.