Jack Avis Jarrett lived a life many would envy. Born September 12, 1925 in Bocova, Virginia, Jack started out life much like the story line from Huck Finn. He spent his early years exploring the countryside of New York. His grandfather owned a sawmill and his father owned a butcher shop. Jack varied his days between childhood mischief and assisting in the orchards and butcher shop. During the depression, Jack and friends would spear suckers by the light of a homemade lantern to sell at the local markets for a few cents to spend on a childhood treat we would all take for granted these days.
Jack has always had a desire to serve and help others. With WWII in full swing he signed up for the Navy at 17 years of age, so that on his 18th birthday he would be able to serve. He spent his time in the Navy serving as a gunner on a merchant marine ship in the South Pacific. He was extremely proud of his service and was often found sporting his WWII memorial hat; the same hat he was wearing at the time of his passing.
Jack had a knack for becoming friends with almost anyone who met him. During his service he met a friend who would bring him most of the way across the United States. This friend was a lineman in Montana, who upon finding work after the war, contacted Jack in New York and touched his inner nomad with the many allures the west holds. Jack made the decision to leave the east coast and travel to the little town of Lewistown, MT, to become a lineman himself.
It is in this little central Montana town that Jack met the love of his life at the County fair. At this fair Jack found a beauty by the name of Vera Smith. He tried to speak with her as she had definitely caught his eye; however, she would not give him the time of day and made it clear she was not impressed. Jack was not one to give up on anything, he began playing a variety of fair games and was the winner of a jar of dill pickles. He packed the hard-won jar of pickles across the fair until he located Vera. He walked right up to her and slammed the jar of pickles down on the counter proclaiming, “there you go you pickle puss!”. From that day on, those two were inseparable. They shared many adventures and countless memories for the next 70+ years of marriage.
Like Jack and Vera’s parents before them, they decided to have only one child; JudyDel. She won Jack’s heart over from the beginning and is a Daddy’s Girl to this day. She was his world and he always wanted the best for her. He couldn’t have been happier when she found the love of her life and one of the few men who could walk in his shoes; Jim Perry. Jack and Jim had an amazing relationship that any son-in-law would envy. Jack and Jim spent many great times together hunting big game in the coulees around Lewistown, gathering firewood in the mountains around the Flathead and sharing stories in Jack’s final years in the living room of the home he and Vera loved so much.
Even though Jack and Vera only had one birth child it did not stop them from sharing their love, guidance and life with others. Jack and Vera became very close with JudyDel’s best friend; Martha Kassel, Grandpa referred to Martha as daughter number two and treated her as if she were his own. Martha returned that love, referring to Jack as Dad and sharing her home with him while he was working lines on the north slope in Alaska the final years of his career. Martha and JudyDel have continued to live as sisters to this day. Martha helped JudyDel immensely with the care of Jack in his final years. She spent countless hours visiting with them, taking them to appointments and helping sort through the exasperating amount of paperwork it takes to get the elderly care. Martha was at Jack’s side with the rest of us as he passed.
JudyDel blessed her father with 5 amazing grandchildren; Mark, Jack, Farah, Jeff and Jarrett. Jack was able to make each grandchild feel like they were his only one. He sacrificed time with his own friends to be sure to have adventures, teach life lessons and make memories each of them will cherish forever.
With life’s uncontrollable circumstances, Mark did not get to meet this amazing man until he was in his 20’s. Upon meeting Mark for the first time, Grandpa, always one to lay it out in plains speak, stated, “ My grandson is a hippy!”, but with a laugh. Life moved right along and it was as if those 20 years of absence had never existed and Mark was a grandson he loved with his whole heart.
Jack learned many of life’s lessons from Grandpa Jack. He looked up to Grandpa Jack as a father figure sharing numerous hunting trips, Griz games and tropical vacations with this wonderful man. Grandpa Jack was the best man in Jack’s wedding, where he married Kiersten. Grandpa Jack made such an impact on Jack that he and Kiersten chose to name their eldest son Jack in honor of Grandpa. Jack always made sure Grandpa Jack made it to all the family gatherings in his final years. He spent countless hours by his side in the final months making sure he knew how much he was loved.
Farah was the only granddaughter and, as can be imagined, Jack spoiled her rotten. Jack was extremely proud of all his grandkids and Farah was no exception. He made a point to let everyone that would listen know how proud he was of her. Jack filled the roll of second father to Farah, sharing many memories with her some sad, but for the most part they were happy and filled with love. Some of those memories include getting paid a quarter to untie Jack’s lineman boots after a long day of work, sneaking bites of Vera’s pie when she wasn’t looking, picking huckleberries, snowmobiling, road trips to the state fair, camping and cutting firewood. Some of her fondest memories were the numerous Griz games they were able to travel to while sharing their passion for football. Farah had the honor of caring for Jack in his final days. Jim, Judy and family made it possible for Jack and Vera to remain in their home many years longer than they could have. However, it was eventually necessary for them to move into the Springs for extra care. Farah was able to be there five days a week, spoiling Jack and Vera with love and attention.
Jeff and Jack shared numerous hunting and fishing memories together. Jack was responsible for Jeff’s first grouse, followed up by his first deer. Jack loved the outdoors and would drive hundreds of miles in a day with the excuse being grouse or deer hunting, but the real reason was his love of spending time with his family in the outdoors he loves so much. Jack taught Jeff lessons from how to hunt to how to respect and love the people around him. Jack had an amazing way of teaching through example versus demand. Jack was an amazing story teller. He loved to recount his numerous elk hunts from the mountains of central Montana to the Canadian border in Northwest Montana. Jack never worried about the size of animal he harvested but focused on the love of the pursuit and the time spent with those he loved.
Jarrett is the youngest of the grandkids. He loves to recount the numerous state fairs that Jack and Vera took us to in Great Falls, MT. They would take us a couple days early each year, so we could spend time at the Choteau fairgrounds camping and floating the small creek that flowed through the park. Jarrett likes to recount the time his siblings convinced him to float through the culvert, and on his way through the brush to the stream he managed to step in the middle of an angry yellow jacket nest, receiving multiple stings and a lasting memory. Although painful at the time, it has brought humor to Jack and Jarrett over the years since.
Jack is survived by his great grandkids: Jess, Taylor, Jack Jr., Emalee, Blake, Austin, Hunter, Rylan and Easton. He is also survived by his great great granddaughter Rowan whom he was able to meet this last year. Jack went out of his way to make each of his granddaughter in laws, Kiersten, Mandi and Valissa, feel like his own grandchildren. No matter the circumstances, Jack was the one they could count on for love and support.
The family of Jack would like to thank the staff at the Springs in Whitefish, as well as the staff at North Valley Hospital for the exceptional care provided to Jack in his final moments as well as the support and comfort given to his family during this time.
Although the passing of Jack saddens many, it is important for all to remember he lived a long and amazing life, filled with love, adventure and wonderful memories. He was surrounded by family throughout his life and right up to the moment of his passing. Please join the family in celebrating Jack’s amazing life and giving him a final send off. Services will be held at 738 3rd Avenue West in Columbia Falls, MT Friday December 21, 2018 at 1:00 p.m. This is the Columbia Falls Canvas Church Campus, previously known as the Assembly of God Church. In lieu of flowers, the family requests a donation be made to Camp Journey; a program in support of childhood cancer. Donations can be left during the services.