Lindle "Lin" Jarvis
1931 - 2002
Chi-Town Squares Class Instructor and Friend
1989 - 2002
Lindle Jarvis ("Lin" to everyone who knew him), long-time caller for Chi-Town Squares, died on June 10, 2002 a few days after a massive heart attack. Lin had a ready smile and a welcoming word for everyone, and we'll miss him terribly.
Lin was a teacher: he taught gym in public schools, and square dancing everywhere. He'd listen carefully to every question posed to him, and work hard to give a good answer. His public style included jokes to keep things lively, and he had separate repertoires for jokes on the microphone and jokes in small groups.
Lin was ahead of his time: in the late 1980s, when some square dance callers were afraid to associate with a gay and lesbian club, Lin agreed to teach for Chi-Town Squares. That was his first interaction with a group of openly gay and lesbian people, and he and his wife Barb embraced us as a new part of their family. When Chicago hosted the annual convention of the International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs in 1995, Lin was very excited to be on the calling staff for this event and spent a year preparing new material to provide a memorable experience for the dancers.
Lin was a spokesman: he talked about us everywhere, to everyone. He encouraged us to visit straight clubs, he encouraged straight dancers to visit Chi-Town. Gay dancers are now welcome at numerous "straight" dances in the Chicago area, and Chi-Town Squares has members and visitors of all persuasions.
Lin was a good sport: at the start of one class year when he said, "And this is my lovely wife Barb," he laughed as hard as anyone when the man sitting next to Barb stood up in front of her and took a bow. One Halloween, Chi-Towners got a surprise when Lin showed up with a western skirt, blouse, wig and makeup. And half of Lin's jokes poked fun at himself.
Lin was a performer, as is every good square dance caller. He appeared on the Lyric Opera stage in Susannah, and told everyone how the opera professionals worked to put him at ease. He appeared in television features and interviews. He called dances for groups as small as 8 people and as large as 2,000 apparently with equal ease. He persuaded little kids and senior citizens sitting on the sidelines to come join the fun.
Lin was generous: in his lifetime he taught thousands of people to square dance. He donated his time for special Chi-Town events (you may have seen him calling at Northalsted Market Days) for the advancement of the club and the promotion of square dancing. With his decades of calling and teaching, he provided a lot of joy to a lot of people.
- Rick Simkin
Lin was my first introduction to square dancing, and my idolized, for the loss of a better word, instructor. There are so many treasured memories of the much too short time that Lin was with us. I remember so vividly how he would say "smile...look like you are having fun" when someone was perplexed and unsure of a call. He was a great instructor...always patient, and he and Barb were always just plain fun to be with. He always joined in with the parties, notably the Halloween festivities...usually sporting a long wig, no less! His sudden passing was devastating to me, as I am sure it was to all the other Chi-Towners. Because of him I am still dancing after 11 years, and it has kept me young...at least at heart, if not body. Thank you, Lin, for that! It is a distinct honor for me to be among the Chi-Towners saluting his memory. You are still with us, Lin! You are NEVER to be forgotten.
— George Nelson
Lin and I knew each other way back in time, when North Shore Squares was in full swing and when the all the ladies had full skirts, and when the Chi-Town Squares was still just a dream. Lin and Barb had other partners and they came to the Deerfield Squares, which was the forerunner of the Recyclers.
Most callers were hard to talk to - at least for me. But Lin and I talked about our teaching careers and about square dancing without any awkwardness. Marge and I were afraid of the high level of calling at North Shore Squares, but Lin was always nice to us as we worked our way up.
We talked about his/Barb's nice new home in Highland Park, and about the neighborhood. And I would see him and Barb in Old Country Buffet sometimes.
He retired a bit before I did, and he invited me to join the weekly golf outings. I couldn't believe that somebody would open a group to an outsider, but Lin was a very kind man. Unfortunately, I had to decline because my golf was worse than bad.
It always seems that he and Barb will walk into Recyclers or Chi-Town unexpectedly, as they did in the past, and suddently he will be with us again.
— Joe Piersen, Recyclers / Chi-Town
Lin Jarvis was my first instructor in square dancing, and probably the single biggest reason I continue to square dance today, because he made me laugh – right out loud. All the time.
I joined square dancing to fulfill an obligation to my roommate at the time, Dana. He had helped with the Gay Band when we went up to Milwaukee to march in their first Gay Pride Parade. He played the cymbals, which he’d never done before. Exhausted at the end of day, he informed me that I had to go to at least the free classes at the beginning of the “school” year. Dubious to the nth degree, I went. Mine was the “huge” class – something like 75 dancers started out that year. You won’t believe it, but I’m really a very shy person, and it would have been very easy to step away, especially with so many pretty people in that class. But Lin made me feel like having fun, and so I stuck it out. I’d like to think that I had a special rapport with Lin, but I think that’s just me making it all about me again.
It was easy to see that he loved what he was doing. And it was easy to love doing it with him.
Oh yeah – special remembrances. So many to choose from... Lin’s first time in drag? The first time we pulled the stunt wherein my square went and sat down when he called a grand square? Constantly changing sexes in a square, just to mess with his head? Listening to his corny, corny jokes?
I miss you, Lin. You were a great teacher, and I’ll be forever grateful that I took square dance lessons from you. Plus, I got to meet Barb!
— Michael Blizzard
Way back in September 1994, I joined the class at Chi-Town Squares to learn Modern Western Square Dancing. Short on volunteers to learn the Belle's part, I jumped in on the right side of a couple and learned to dance through Plus in a class shortened by the Convention in May 1995 hosted by Tip The Cow. Lin's instruction was straightforward for all of us using mostly two couple sets to introduce and teach the call from standard positions and then forming four-couple sets to dance smoothly using what we learned recently. Lin's favorite ending phrase during the teaching time was "You're There; You're Home." When my position matched my home, I knew our set had done well. I have not run across a better teacher of square dancing in the eleven years since I finished Lin's classes (I angeled the Beau's part in 1995-96 to be able to dance with the straight clubs in Colorado) and I have angeled several classes at several clubs in my local area. Quick to laugh at himself, I will remember Lin as a person with a great sense of humor and humility willing to teach us how to dance until we knew the calls well.
— Alan Hirsch, Westcliffe, CO
This is one of my special memories of Lin. In about 1989 or 1990 at one of the first Chi-town fly-ins, we were finishing up the Saturday afternoon workshop when Lin said, "Does anyone know the dance, 'Salty Dog Rag'?" I raised my hand for I had learned it in college at Michigan State University when I was a member of the M.S.U. Promenaders. Lin asked if he put the music on, would I dance with him? Well it had been 10 years, and I had always danced the "boy's" part, but, "sure, I would give it a try." Well, I'm no small man. At 6'1" and at that time 185 lb., I could be challenging to move. Lin had us flying around the dance floor. I did stay up with him as the steps came rushing back. Lin was a special man. He gave so much to the Chi-town club. They and I appreciate all his time and dedication he shared.
— Chuck Novak, Grand River Squares, Grand Rapids, Michigan
When I was in grade school, we were told one day in gym class that we were going to “square dance”. After the groans subsided and our teacher got us on the floor, he got us in two lines and started teaching the Virginia Reel. At the end of class, I went up to him and informed him that that was not square dancing and if he really wanted us to learn how to square dance, I could get a real square dance caller to come in and teach class. That evening, I went home and told my parents about my day and told them they had to call Lin to get him to teach our class. They did and he did because that’s who he was and not only did he teach that year but every year until I moved on to junior high. From Mini Conventions, to North Shore Squares, to Ace of Clubs, to Chi Town , I danced with and to Lin for a lot of years. Lucky me!
— Kathy Zottmann
Lin's wife and Chi-Town Squares member, Barb Jarvis, receiving a
Chi-Town Squares Lifetime Membership from club president, Jim Maxwell
Lin Jarvis Memorial Service was on September 21, 2002
Famous Lin Quotes
- Look her in the eye and make her smile!
- It's OK...no one saw you do that.
- No, your other right!
- I brag about you guys all the time!
- When all else fails, listen to the caller!
- You're the best class I've ever taught!