John Robert Jahries, better known as Bob, was born on May 8, 1930, in Summit, NJ. He died peacefully at his home in Vineyard Haven, MA, on July 10, 2021. He was 91.
Raised by his mother, Margaret “Peggy” Ellis James, Bob spent his early years on the move, attending nearly every elementary school in Summit, including Lincoln, Brayton, Franklin, and Washington. When he was eleven, he was sent to live at the Bonnie Brae Home For Boys while his mother looked for work. After a year at Bonnie Brae, he happily returned home, attending Summit Junior and Senior High Schools, graduating in 1950.
In 1952, he was drafted by the U.S. Army and was sent to fight in the Korean War, where he earned the rank of Sergeant and was awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious service in his artillery unit. This was his proudest moment. Honorably discharged, he returned to Summit.
Academics never came easily to Bob, and when he was 22, he sought out his second grade teacher, Ms. Burns, to teach him how to spell. After one month of tutoring, she looked him in the eye and said, “Bobby, when you get a job, get one with a secretary!” So he did.
Bob was employed by the New Jersey Bell Telephone Company, later Verizon, where he worked for 35 years, first as a yellow pages advertising salesman, later as sales director, and lastly as a manager.
When he was 30, Bob had a fortuitous encounter with Judy Blackmar at the Short Hills Ski Club, and for him it was love at first sight! He married her soon thereafter. They chose to raise their four children in Summit. As a wedding present, he was given some land in East Callais, VT, which included rock walls, rolling meadows, and stands of evergreens. Bob named the property “Singing Pines” and built a modest home. Here, he enjoyed floating on the “bar of soap” styrofoam raft on No. 10 Pond, looking for shooting stars, tending his summer garden, and building giant snowmen with family and friends. He enjoyed splitting wood for his wood stoves and did so until he was 80.
Over the years, Bob had many dogs and he enjoyed showing them. His beloved Bernese Mountain Dog, Lottie, won a blue ribbon for Reserve Winner at the Westminster Dog Show at Madison Square Garden. He also showed Lucy, a beautiful red-and-white Basset Hound, his loyal friend for 14 years; she even won a blue ribbon in the M.V. Agricultural Fair!
Bob’s passion was all things horticultural, so he spent his life gardening. Every house in which he lived had gardens that were magnificent, abundant with rare and native perennials, koi ponds, and raised beds. The winters during his retirement in West Tisbury, MA, were spent paging through seed magazines, and rooting many specimens from quercifolia, kousa dogwoods, and buxus sempervirens that he liked to give as gifts. His garden and greenhouse were even featured in the Martha’s Vineyard Magazine and in CL Fornari’s book, “A Garden Lover’s Martha’s Vineyard.” He was very proud of his Walla Walla onions he entered in the fair every year and his many blue ribbons.
One of Bob’s favorite sayings was “He who plants a tree loves others.” Wise, patriotic, kind, and gentle, he was a man who saw beauty in people, animals, and the natural world. He will be greatly missed.
Bob’s legacy will live on in his children and grandchildren: Sarah Jahries and Nicole Hager of Maplewood, NJ, and their children Rylie Hager and Martha, Charlie, and Robby Kenyon; Stephen and Diana Jahries of Greenville, SC, and their children Allison and Matt Rogers, and Kate Jahries and her fiancé Phillip Waller; Peter and Jill Jahries of Towson, MD, and their children Jack, Matthew, and Ben Jahries; and Emily and Perry Moehnke of West Tisbury, MA, and their children Porter, Margaret, and Mathilda Moehnke.
A private celebration was held at the Abel’s Hill Cemetery, Chilmark, MA, where he joined his late wife Judy and her parents, John and Marjorie Blackmar. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society or the Polly Hill Arboretum, both in West Tisbury, MA. The family sends a special thank-you to Tom Coye of Hospice & Palliative Care of Martha’s Vineyard for his compassion and care.