The Challenger explosion is the subject of Netflix’s new four-part documentary series Challenger: The Final Flight, exploring the stories around the tragedy of January 28, 1986. Gregory Jarvis was one of the astronauts who died in the tragic explosion. He was survived by his wife, Marcia Jarvis. They did not have children. Here is what she is doing today.
GettyThis November 1985 file provided by NASA shows the crew of the doomed US space shuttle Challenger. Front row from left are: astronauts Mike Smith, Dick Scobee, Ron McNair, back row from left: Ellison Onizuka, school teacher Christa McAuliffe, Greg Jarvis, and Judith Resnik.
Jarvis was only 41 when he died. In 2006, Jarvis’ wife, Marcia Jarvis, shared her experience and memories of that fateful day with Daily Breeze. She had left for the launch when Gregory Jarvis called her and said goodbye and that he loved her. She didn’t get the message until after the tragic explosion, which happened just moments after Jarvis had shouted “Fantastic!” as the Challenger rose into the sky.
She said he was an engineer and they had met in college. She was impressed with his ability to be friends with pretty much everyone and was always very encouraging of the people he worked with.
In college, he asked her to marry him over the phone during a college break. They married in 1968. After they were married, they’d take vacations riding a tandem bicycle for hundreds of miles.
She told Daily Breeze that he was very excited about being chosen, even though he thought he wouldn’t be picked because he was partially color blind.
Marcia Jarvis told Buffalo News that after the accident, she and friends spread his remains at sea. She said she wasn’t angry at NASA or about what happened. “I’m just proud of who he was, and that he was doing something he really believed in, and felt lucky to be a part of.”
By 2006 when she spoke with Daily Breeze, she had moved to Manhattan Beach and mentioned that he would be 61 if he had lived. “He never got a chance to get old,” she said. After he died, she went back to work and gave away her tandem bike. A few years later she remarried, Daily Breeze reported, moved to a pasture land, and owned horses and mules. She said that no matter how many years passed, she would still watch the sunrise every January 28 in Jarvis’ memory, watches an old videotape of him, and goes for a hike alone.
Marcia Jarvis also became one of the founding directors of the Challenger Center. In 1986, she established a scholarship fund in her husband’s memory.
Herkimer County students campaigned to created a memorial exhibit for Gregory Jarvis at the Herkimer County Office Building, and Marcia Jarvis gave her support to the effort in 2018, The Patriot Ledger reported. She contributed a Flight 51-L commemorative plaque to the effort.
In 2019, a memorial at Herkimer County Community College was unveiled, Times Telegram reported. The memorial included the plaque, a Challenger-era helmet, a Challenger flight suit, and a Challenger shuttle model. Marcia Jarvis also contributed space flight medals and artifacts to the memorial.
Gregory Jarvis, Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, STS-51-L, NASA
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