COLUMBIA — In Sharon Brunda and Joan Barnes’ houses, a dog-shaped door stopper and a pig-shaped cutting board have a significance beyond utility.
For the two sisters, these objects serve as a memory of their mother, Margaret Mary (Walloch) Jarvis, who they described as selfless, funny, loyal and fiercely independent.
“If somebody walked in her house and looked at something and said, ‘Oh, that’s really neat,’ — she had lots of cool antiques — she would tell them to write their name down and tape it to the bottom to give it to them later,” Brunda said.
A week before Easter, Mrs. Jarvis was diagnosed with small-cell carcinoma, a type of lung cancer. The biopsy revealed that the cancer had metastasized, which caused a fracture in her spine.
Mrs. Jarvis died Easter Sunday, April 8, 2012. She was 82.
She was born Aug. 31, 1929, in Chicago to George and Augusta (Huzeinga) Walloch. In 1948, she graduated from Our Lady of Lourdes Commercial High School and then worked as a secretary. She married Dean L. Jarvis on Feb. 14, 1953.
Mrs. Jarvis and her husband moved to St. Louis from Chicago because of her husband's job, and later moved to Columbia for the same reason.
Brunda and Barnes were the couple's first two children, and they have a younger sister, Susan Hughes.
Mrs. Jarvis worked as office manager at Barzell Apartments, signifying a loyalty indicative of her nature, her daughters said.
"She was so independent and didn’t feel the need to tie herself down to anything," Brunda said. "She did everything herself. She was just an independent woman — loved her freedom."
Mrs. Jarvis never planned her life around a career. She married her husband and originally planned on being a housewife and mother. However, when he opened up a private practice as a doctor, she decided to go to work — originally for just a couple of years — to help out.
Brunda and Barnes said they knew their mother loved them, and that her daughters were what was most important to her. They said she would do anything for them and for the people around her.
Mrs. Jarvis’ mother was very crafty. She crocheted flowers and other crafts to help the family through the Great Depression and made matching outfits for Mrs. Jarvis and her daughters for big holidays like Christmas and Easter.
Mrs. Jarvis, on the other hand, was not crafty, nor did she enjoy the outdoors life that her husband was passionate about. But despite this, she went alongside her daughters to Girl Scouts club meetings, camped and even water skiied on the Mississippi River to please her husband.
And she never complained, Brunda and Barnes said.
Barnes said her mother was also a fantastic listener.
“I can remember coming home from dates and dances and we would always sit on her bed afterwards,” Brunda said. “And she would just listen. Listen to every little detail.”
Mrs. Jarvis also loved to garden and play the piano. Barnes said sometimes her mother would go into the basement in their house and play the piano to escape from the distractions of day-to-day life.
Barnes said during World War II, when soldiers would come back to Chicago on leave, she would entertain them on the piano. She also sang at weddings, where her signature song was “Ave Maria.”
Loyalty, independence, selflessness, love: these were the qualities Mrs. Jarvis’ daughters said defined her. They said she was a strong woman in every way.
Mrs. Jarvis was devoted to her family and her job, but she maintained her independence throughout her life. And most importantly, Barnes said, she was content with herself.
“She used to say, ‘I look in the mirror and I see what I see and that’s not what I feel,’” Brunda said. “‘I feel like I’m sixteen years old. I don’t want to ever feel as old as I look.’ And I don’t think she ever did.”
Brunda and Barnes admired their mother’s selflessness and positivity towards everything.
Towards the end of high school, Brunda said her mother lent her a ruby and diamond ring. At one point, Brunda lost the ring and was devastated. But her mother did not lose her temper.
“Someday, somebody’s going to find that ring, and they won’t believe their luck," Brunda said, repeating her mother's words at that moment. "And just think about how happy it’ll make them."
“She had that kind of an attitude," Brunda said. "Material things weren’t important to her. It was all about people, always about everyone else — never just herself.”
Mrs. Jarvis is survived by her daughters, Joan Barnes, Sharon Brunda and her husband, David, and Susan Hughes and her husband, Steven; her grandchildren, Jessica Hudson and her husband, Luke, Justin Barnes and his wife, Ashley, Nicholas Brunda and his wife, Courtney, and Christopher, Mitchell and Rory Hughes; and great-grandchildren, Taylor and Dalton Brunda and Tyler Hudson.
Her brother and husband died earlier.
Mrs. Jarvis was cremated, and funeral proceedings are still pending. Donations can be made to Rainbow House, 1611 Towne Drive, Columbia, MO 65202.