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‘Lightning Was Not Going to Deter Me From The Love of My Life’



Special to the Birmingham Times

“You Had Me at Hello’’ highlights married couples and the love that binds them. If you would like to be considered for a future “Hello’’ column, or know someone, please send nominations to Barnett Wright bwright@birminghamtimes.com. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.



Live: McCalla

Married: May 19, 1973

Met: June 1971, at Tuskegee Institute [now Tuskegee University]. “I was outside the cafeteria near the fountain under the tree, and [Amos], a mutual friend of ours was out with me when Connie came down the cafeteria steps and I asked who she was, and Amos asked me if I’d like to meet her,” Jarvis said. “She was eye-catching, it could’ve been the smile, it could’ve been the walk, but she caught my eye.”

“Jarvis was an upperclassman, an out-going senior, and I was [an incoming] freshman, I thought he was too mature for me. He was dressed really nice, [he wasn’t dressed] like all the other guys on campus, [but] I was right out of high school, and I thought I had a boyfriend at home, so I wasn’t looking for anything.”

First date:  June 1971, at G’s Restaurant in Tuskegee. “He had this little yellow sports car, with the black convertible top [an Austin Healy], and I told him he had to pick me up for an early dinner because I wanted to be back before dark,” Connie said. “We went to dinner and had a good conversation. I realized that even though he was mature, he was a nice man. He wasn’t aggressive or trying to take advantage, he treated me with the utmost respect, like a lady and he made a very good first impression.”

The turn: “Late 1971. I called her again and we went out for another dinner date and we just continued seeing each other. I was on my way to Indianapolis, Indiana for my first job [with the NAACP, as the Regional Youth and College Director] and she was still at Tuskegee in school, but we kept in touch.”

“We wrote lots of letters to each other and talked over the phone for about a year,” Connie recalled.

“Apparently, I wrote some powerful letters,” Jarvis laughed, “but I made several trips from Indiana to Tuskegee, and to Birmingham to see her.”

“Whenever I was home for breaks and the summer he made trips to Birmingham to see me, and [as it turns out] I didn’t have a boyfriend in Birmingham anymore,” Connie said. “[Jarvis and I] became an item.”

The proposal: Christmas 1972, at Connie’s sister’s house in North Birmingham.

“I went to see her father when I was home for Thanksgiving to tell him that we were getting married and that I would like his blessing. I never met her mother because she had passed already… Her father agreed, so the next thing was the proposal in December,” Jarvis said.

“I didn’t have a clue that he was about to propose. We were sitting on the couch and talking like we normally did, and he stood and went in his pocket and took the ring out, and I probably cried because I’m a cry baby, but I did say ‘yes’, with the stipulation that I was going to finish [undergrad] and get my master’s degree,” Connie said. “He had finished school and that was my number one priority to finish college.”

The wedding: At Peace Baptist Church on 3rd Ave, in Birmingham, officiated by Reverend Hobdy Moorer, their colors were pink and white.

Most memorable for the bride “was my father walking me down the aisle to meet my future husband. And once getting down the aisle, my father [George Moore Sr.] giving my hand to Patton [Jarvis Sr.]. I was emotional, it was like I was leaving my father, the man that was taking care of me, going to my husband, the man that was going to take care of me. I was only 19, so I guess I was anxious and a little afraid,” Connie said.

Most memorable for the groom was a moment with his brother, William Patton Jr.  the morning of his wedding. “I was staying at my parent’s house in East Birmingham, and there was a church on the corner… all my siblings were there, and that morning lightning struck the church on the corner,” Jarvis said. “It was out of the clear blue sky, and my brother asked me are you sure you need to get married because this may be a sign. And I said the lightning was not going to deter me from the love of my life,” Jarvis said.

The couple left the next day for Indianapolis to start their new life together.
Words of wisdom: “Communication is the root of a marriage,” Connie said. “but even with communication, listen. Don’t assume. When you’re talking with each other listen to what the other person is saying, even during the heat of the moment. You have to let each other know what you feel or how you’re feeling about something because men and women do not think alike. You really have to listen with an open heart, you can’t close off to the other person’s feelings.”

“Both of us are very religious persons, and marriage is sanctioned by God, and God doesn’t make mistakes. So when you put God into a relationship and your faith in Him, everything works out,” Jarvis said. “There may be trials and tribulations, but everything will work out… Marriage is kinda like a checking or savings account, if you don’t put anything in it, you’re not going to get anything out. And marriage is a team concept, it’s two people working together.”

“We’re at the point in our marriage where we kinda know what each other is thinking. He’s like my right arm, and I’m like his left hand. We have a lot of laughter in our relationship, we are living happily ever after, praise God,” Connie said.

“That does not mean that the ship is always sailing smoothly, there will always be bumps in the road, but after 49 years we’re able to brandish those bumps and shifts in the wind,” said Jarvis.

Happily ever after: The Patton’s have two children; son, Dr. Jarvis Patton Jr. 46, and daughter, Circuit Court Judge Javan Patton, 39.

Connie, 68, is a North Birmingham native, and George Washington Carver High School grad. She attended Tuskegee University, where she studied social work, and Indiana University at Indianapolis, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in sociology. Connie is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Inc. and a retired budget manager at Bell South.

Jarvis, 72, is an East Birmingham native, and Carol W. Hayes High School grad. He attended Tuskegee University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business management, and the University of Texas, where he obtained a master’s degree in contract compliance. Jarvis is retired from the City of Birmingham as chief of staff/chief of operations.

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