Robert Jarvis, former director of physical plant at Skidmore, died Oct. 23, 2010,
of complications from cancer.
The Worcester, Mass., native enlisted in the Navy at the age of 17, following the attack on Pearl Harbor. He served in the Pacific Theater and remained in contact with fellow servicemen for many years afterward.
He moved to Florida and graduated from the University of Miami. He served as a reserve member of the U.S. Army Transportation Corps and later, as a regular-duty officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He received the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Army Commendation Medal, three Bronze Stars, and other honors.
In 1958 he retired from the service and moved to a farm in North Pownal, Vt., with his wife, Iola. Bob was a member of the town’s Board of Selectmen. Unable to really “retire,” he started working at Skidmore in 1977 as plant engineer. In 1982 he was named director of physical plant, a title he held until his retirement in 1989. The Jarvis Pavilion near Skidmore’s Castle Baseball Diamond was named in Bob’s honor.
Karl Broekhuizen, who was vice president for finance and administration during Bob’s tenure, recalled, “He understood and had an appreciation for the academic enterprise. Many military folks have trouble making the transition into more consensus-driven operational models but Bob did not. He was very much a gentleman and well-liked by colleagues.” Broekhuizen added, “He was a Yankee, always trying to optimize the balance between quality and resources. “In the early 1980s when Harder Hall was being planned as a one-story residence hall, Bob demonstrated that if its footings were designed a certain way, we could add a second story, and we ultimately implemented his plan.”
Again unable to fully retire after he left Skidmore, Bob was employed as a “short-term” project manager at Williams College until June 2010, when his illness was discovered.
Bob’s survivors include his wife, Iola; children J. Michelle Galusha of North Pownal, Vt., Suzanne Wargo of Viera, Fla., Robert C. Jarvis Jr., of Danvers, Mass., and Jennifer Brady of Rockledge, Fla.; a surrogate daughter, Yuko Kato of Mechanicville, N.Y.; seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren; and sisters Ruth Westlake and Patricia Murnane.
Burial with full military honors took place at the Saratoga National Cemetery in Schuylerville, N.Y.