Chris was born in Corvallis, Oregon; the son of Simeri Jarvi and Mary Davis Jarvi. His father, a career forester, instilled in Chris the love of nature and belief in stewardship of natural resources. Chris graduated from Cal Poly, Pomona, in Ornamental Horticulture/Park Administration. After a stint in the Air Force he obtained his masters in Environmental Horticulture at UC Davis. He could name most plants by both their common and Latin names. It was at Cal Poly that Chris met, fell in love with and married Sylvia Walker. Their strong bond lasted 46 years. They had two sons, David and Erik. Sylvia was the only known human who could successfully manage his irrepressible enthusiasm.
Chris’ work career began as a management trainee with Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation, advancing to Head Park Planner where he administered capital project planning, design, and construction for the department. He was a planner for the Catalina Island Conservancy. In 1979 he was lured to the City of Anaheim, where he worked for 22 years, first as Park Superintendent and later Director of Community Services. During this time, he supervised parks, golf course maintenance, and library and recreation services. He viewed his job as building a stronger community rather than simply delivering service.
Jarvi was active in his professional community. He was elected president of both the California Parks and Recreation Society, and later the National Recreation and Park Association. He served on the Board of the League of California Cities representing parks and recreation agencies throughout the state.
Following his retirement from the City of Anaheim in 2003 Chris was appointed to be an Associate Director of the National Park Service (NPS) in Washington, DC. During his six years with the NPS, he was responsible for Partnerships and Visitor Experience. He retired from the NPS in 2010.
Chris is survived by wife Sylvia, son David [Julie] Jarvi, grandchildren Coleman and Megan, sister Joellen Jarvi, brothers Ted [Leslie], and Robin [Diane]. He was predeceased by son, Erik.
Donations in his memory can be made to the Anaheim Community Foundation. (In the online payment form, type in that you’d like your gift to go to the memory of Chris Jarvi).