Jesse Marchant Purvis, 67, of Fayetteville, West Virginia, died peacefully, surrounded by his family, after a brief illness, on Saturday, December 4, 2021, in Charleston, West Virginia. Jesse, the son of the later Dr. Colbert Thaxton Purvis and the late Mary Helen Marchant Purvis, formerly of Pleasanton, CA and Screven, GA, was born on June 24, 1954, in Marietta, GA. He attended schools in Fremont and Pleasanton, CA, graduating from Amador Valley High School in 1972. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Humboldt State University in 1976, and an MA in Biological Sciences from Chico State University in 1980.
After working several years as a fisheries biologist for the Minerals Management Service of the Department of Interior in Price, Utah, and briefly in Los Angeles, CA, he returned to school, earning a PhD in Biology at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, in 1995. Jesse subsequently obtained a position with National Park Service as a fish biologist at the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve in West Virginia, where he worked until his retirement in 2016.
Jesse was a committed conservationist and loved the outdoors. He felt enormously privileged to have a career that allowed him to share with park visitors the wonders and complexities of the natural world, contribute to the general body on information about freshwater ecosystems, and spend his time tramping around the river and stream systems of the New River Gorge National Park. After his retirement, he cherished the extra time he had to spend at home and on excursions with his beloved wife Donna, and with his seven grandchildren, to whom he was a busy, devoted and dearly loved Pawpaw. When he wasn’t puttering about the house or looking after grandchildren, he was most likely sitting on his deck, talking endlessly, generally about hunting and fishing, with his brother-in-law, Paul, but notably, almost never actually abandoning his deck chair to pursue those activities.
Jesse is survived by his beloved wife and partner of twenty years, Donna Faye Morris Purvis, his adored stepdaughters Terry (Josh) Taylor and Lauren Harper (Ricky Farrell) and the seven grandchildren who were the light of his life: Dessy, Kayde, Gabby, and Grayson Taylor; and Peyten, Harper, and Ricky Farrell. He is also survived by his sister, Lucky (John) McDonald, his brothers-in-law, and a large number of cousins. He also leaves behind four beloved furry beasts, Cashew, Bandit, Zola and Vada.
Jesse was preceded in death by his parents, eight aunts and uncles, several cousins, and a long parade of much-loved cats and dogs.
Memorial services will be held on an as-yet undetermined date in 2022, in both West Virginia and Georgia. Memorial gifts may be made to The Nature Conservancy will be much appreciated by the family.