LEN JARRARD

LEN JARRARD

Leonard Everett Jarrard, born in Waco, Texas, on Oct. 23, 1930, died peacefully at his home on Poorhouse Mountain near Lexington on Oct. 11, 2022.

The middle son of Thomas Ivan and Levis Lasswell Jarrard, Leonard grew up helping his father seine for minnows for fishing, also hunting arrowheads and caring for the family’s milk cow who lived in the backyard. His brothers Ted and John, 7 years older and younger than Len, respectively, accompanied him on boyhood adventures that included summers working on his grandparents’ small farm near Deleon, Texas. His great-grandparents had bought the land after traveling from Ohio to Texas in a covered wagon.

At high school in Waco, Len excelled in playing the trumpet, winning first chair in the state of Texas. With no young men around to fill the marching band during World War II, Len was chosen to play in Baylor University’s band; he played in clubs throughout Texas and along the border and nearly decided to go on the road with a big jazz band.

After serving in the Air Force as a career guidance instructor, he attended Baylor to study science. When his own career path solidified into the study of psychology and he was accepted at Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University), he drove to Pittsburgh from 

Waco in a 1948 Plymouth to do graduate work.

In Pittsburgh, Len met and married his wife Janet Shoop, a local girl and undergraduate at Carnegie, with whom he would subsequently share 64 years of marriage.

The couple first settled in Lexington in 1959, where Len taught psychology at Washington and Lee. He returned to Carnegie Mellon to teach for five years, but could not resist an invitation from W&L to move back to Lexington. He would teach there for the next 42 years.

Despite research sabbaticals in universities around the globe, from Oxford, England to Bordeaux, France, Kyoto, Japan, and Dunedin, New Zealand (among others), the Blue Ridge Mountains and the valley of Virginia were his true home.

As a faculty member at W&L, Len published over 100 articles in his area of expertise, the brain’s hippocampus, also serving as departmental chair and founding the department’s interdisciplinary neuroscience program. With Jan, he hosted famously delicious dinners for generations of students, colleagues, and an array of international scholars. He was a longtime member of That Club and Fortnightly Club, as well as a woodworker, beekeeper, gardener, and outdoorsman.

Music accompanied Len throughout his life; jazz was the counterpoint to his scientific pursuits. He first joined the musician’s union when he was only 15 years old, and played both professionally and for the pleasure of friends and associates in neuroscience well into his 70s. He played locally at W&L affairs, and often drove west over the mountains to play with big bands at the Homestead and Greenbrier hotels.

Len is survived by his wife Jan, his three children, and five grandchildren. He left behind daughter Alice, her husband Michael Randall, and their daughter Emma (of Cambridge, Mass.), son David, his wife Karen (of Madison, Wis.), and their children Caitlin and Will Jarrard, and son Hugh (of Portland, Ore.) and his children Owen and Lauren. Len’s older brother Ted (of San Diego, Calif.) died this year; his brother John Jarrard (of Little Rock, Ark.) survives him.

The family looks forward to welcoming friends to a celebration of Len’s life at Hotchkiss Hall at W&L on Saturday, Nov. 26, between 3 and 6 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, they ask that donations be made to Rockbridge Area Hospice, 315 Myers St., Lexington, VA 24450 (https://rahospice. givingfuel.com/support-rah) and to the Len Jarrard Endowment in Neuroscience at Washington and Lee University, Attn: Development Office, 204 W. Washington St., Lexington, VA 24450, (https://colonnadeconnections. wlu.edu/donate), select “Other” and enter fund name.

 

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