Owen Jarvis: Bank manager was four times Dereham Town Mayor

Owen Jarvis

Owen Jarvis - Credit: Archant

A long-serving bank manager and four-time town mayor of a Norfolk market town, Owen Jarvis, has died aged 90.

He also became the first mayor of Dereham in 1983 – the year after he retired after working for Lloyds Bank for 43 years in branches across his native county.

In his 20 years as manager at Dereham, the branch expanded and staff numbers rose from just six to 21 when he retired on October 31, 1982.

A keen sportsman, especially at golf, he became captain of Dereham Golf Club and was also involved in amateur boxing circles in Norfolk as a judge and even founded a boxing club in the town.


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Born in Grimston, near King's Lynn, Owen Charles Michael Jarvis, won a scholarship to the King Edward VII Grammar School. He then joined Lloyds Bank at the Downham Market branch as a 17-year-old office junior on £1 a week in November 1939. His duties included getting the coal in and making up the fire.

During the second world war, he joined the Royal Air Force and became a navigator, also serving in South Africa. In 1942, he was severely injured in an air crash and lost his voice. He taught himself to talk again having confounded experts, who predicted that he would never speak again. Grounded, he was an instructor with the Forces Vocational Training Scheme until 1947 when he returned to Downham Market.

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After 15 years, he was promoted as chief clerk at Diss having been a founder member and treasurer of Downham and District Angling Association and also treasurer of Downham Town Cricket Club. A further promotion as accountant at Stevenage then followed.

He was made branch manager at Dereham in 1962 and then became involved with local affairs, standing for the first time for a seat on the then Dereham Urban District Council in May 1968. At the annual meeting in May 1972, he was elected chairman ahead of the looming local government reorganisation.

During his political career, he was Dereham's leading citizen on four occasions completing his final term as mayor in the year that he retired.

Mr Jarvis had also been a member of Breckland Council for seven years until 1983 but had to stand down after he had moved into the adjoining district coulcil area to live at Great Ryburgh, near Fakenham. Latterly, he been living in Attleborough close to his daughter.

He had enjoyed cricket in his youth and boxing and darts but was also a keen carpenter. He 'dabbled' in boat-building and built an 18-foot motor launch in his back garden, which saved him about £150. The four-berth craft was built in seven weeks in the spring of 1964 and was named 'Ladybird' by his three-and-a-half year old son, David.

He enjoyed sport and was also treasurer of Dereham Golf Club for a total of 12 years and then club captain in 1970.

He was treasurer and members of groups including the Dereham Church Missionary Society and the Mid-Norfolk Society of Mencap.

He leaves a son, David, and daughter, Hilary, five grandchildren and is survived by his former wife, Gillian. His oldest son, Michael, by a previous marriage, has three children.

A funeral will be held at St Faith's Crematorium on Tuesday, June 4 at 2.45pm.

Michael Pollitt

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