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Saturday, December 16, 2023
Starts at 11:00 am (Mountain time)
George Derek Jarvis (Derek) was born on June 25, 1962 in Los Angeles, California to Jan and George Jarvis, the first of their three children. When his next brother, Brett, was born, Derek’s parents gave him a doll and the whole way home from the hospital he beat that doll on every wall he could find until it was a complete mess and then he shoved it in his baby brother’s face and made him cry. But after his mother explained that they loved both Brett and Derek and always would, Derek became the single best older brother that anyone could ever ask for. Brett was always included with Derek and his friends and then, when Doug was born 11 years after Brett, Derek took him everywhere too.
But then again, Derek was always inclusive of everyone. He always noticed the one on the sideline, the insulted one, the hurt one, the shy one, the one just not quite fitting in and he reached out to them, brought them in, protected them, encouraged them. As has been said about him, “he was a friend behind your back” and, it should be noted that if you needed a defender to get in front of someone else’s face, he was that too.
Derek skipped the first grade at Fairburn elementary in Westwood, but that did not deter him from being a leader throughout his school years. Even when the family moved to Scottsdale, Arizona when Derek was 8 and then back to LA when he was 13, people naturally and quickly gravitated toward him. He was athletic and intelligent and his friend group often circled around him, his home, and his plans. He made childhood friends that of course he stayed in touch with his whole life. He often called them at random times over the years because he felt like he should, checking up on them to make sure they were ok.
Derek played shortstop and third base in Little League, using super-quick reflexes to vacuum up everything that came his way like his idol Brooks Robinson. He played soccer and football as well, but he played basketball the most and the longest. His ability to dance past others on quick moves to the basket earned him the nickname Dr. J as a University High School Warrior in West LA, but it was his all-out and constant hustle that was his true hallmark. There was never a loose ball that he didn’t believe was his birthright to secure, never a guy too big to box out for a rebound, never a charge he didn’t take. At UC Berkeley he played for their club basketball team that took on and usually dominated smaller colleges’ varsity programs.
Music was an important part of Derek’s life growing up as well. He played the trumpet and marched in the Parada del Sol in Scottsdale. In middle school he put together a group of fellow musicians who played at homes for senior citizens. He sang and was a terrific dancer too and in high school he formed and fronted a band called the Blues Warriors that dressed up like the Blues Brothers and covered their songs to packed crowds in the school auditorium.
Derek was an Eagle Scout and in the middle of his college years, he served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Belgium and France. Ever after he would point out the Spirit that people were feeling when being taught about Christ. He spoke French tremendously for the rest of his life, loved the people there always, and chose Paris St. Germain as his favorite football team before they were good. At a Paris restaurant with his parents, brothers, aunt, and a friend after his mission, his French was so good while translating for everyone that the waiter asked him if he was the tour guide for these six dumb Americans, to which he replied, “We are actually seven dumb Americans. This is my family.”
In college, Derek was again at the center of a great and lifelong friend group. Derek graduated from Berkeley in English, having written his senior paper on James Joyce’s Ulysses, but he seemed to have spent most of his time sitting on a wall in the center of campus and talking with friends who would spend a moment or two with him before they continued on. He was always proud to say that after he’d been gone for two years for his mission and was back on his perch on the wall, some random person he’d never met came up to him and said, “Hey, where have you been? I’ve been missing you!” The image of him engaging with everyone he could at the center of the campus is appropriately symbolic of his life.
Derek went on to pursue a Masters Degree in International Relations at Brigham Young University and later graduated from BYU’s law school before becoming a construction defect lawyer in Southern California, settling in Irvine. He was a brilliant lawyer and took great pleasure in pointing out the foibles of his opponents’ arguments, though he often seemed surprised that they just couldn’t see their arguments’ weaknesses by themselves.
While at BYU, he met his wife, Jennifer, when a friend of hers from her mission to France who worked with Derek at NuSkin set them up on a blind date. He was delighted by her fun personality, witty retorts, and quick laugh. Unsurprisingly, Derek was always a connector of his extended family, and having created his own family, he became devoted to and completely enamored with his children: Joshua, Gunnar, Bronwyn, Duncan, and Camryn. He loved their insights and their individuality. He supported them and encouraged them in their endeavors and attended any and all of their events and would consistently practice their sports with them. Even when his own mobility deteriorated, he would crouch down to catch pitches, for example. He was appropriately proud that they each won an Irvine City title in some sport at some point in their lives. And he, of course, loved and supported all of their musical and artistic and other talents as well. His favorite thing to do was to be with his family, their couch in the living room or chairs around an outdoor fire becoming his new Berkeley wall and his children the ones he was constantly connecting with.
Derek would go and support his relatives’ kids and his friends’ kids in their events as well. His time on so many ballfields eventually led him to coach high school softball, probably the job that he loved the most. When Derek coached his brother Doug’s basketball team when Doug was a kid, Derek first articulated the three rules that he insisted upon as a coach: don’t yell at your teammates, don’t talk to the refs, and shoot the ball. He coached JV softball at two Irvine high schools, amending those three rules slightly, and rejoiced how his players developed from having no idea even what an umpire was in some cases to being effective ballplayers by the end of a season.
One of his good friends put it well when he said that Derek’s purpose was to help people feel good about themselves. Derek strived to do that with everyone he met throughout his life. And, he was usually quite successful.
On his way up to Salt Lake City to, of course, be with and support family and friends, Derek suffered sudden cardiac arrest at a gas station in Fillmore, Utah. Only through multiple miracles did he survive long enough to have his family gather around him at a hospital in Provo to be with him and share their love and support for him as he passed into the next life two days later on December 1, 2023. The last music he heard in the car was Bruce Springsteen on Broadway. The last music he heard in the hospital was his family singing “Families Can Be Together Forever.”
Derek is survived by his wife, Jennifer, and children, Joshua, Gunnar, Bronwyn, Duncan, and Camryn, as well as his two brothers, Brett and Doug.
Funeral services will be held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints building at 23 Lake Road in Irvine, California on Saturday, December 16th, at 11 am.. As was the case always in his life, all are welcome.