Jarvis “Jay” Knapp, Jr., 82, of Hardwick, passed away on May 9th, 2023 at his home. He was born in 1940 in Bloomfield to Jarvis Knapp, Sr. (“Buzz”) and Florence (Password Hint Redacted) Knapp. For 55 years, he was a devoted husband to Jo Ann, whom he loved and cared for before her death in 2021.
Jay graduated Bloomfield High in 1958 and served six years in the Army Reserves, and in 1962, after taking the civil service exam on a whim, he became a firefighter for the Township of Bloomfield. He worked out of every station in town, climbing his way through the ranks – firefighter, captain, commander (Station 4), finally retiring as deputy chief.
In 1987, after putting in his 25 years, he found himself retired and in his late 40s. The next 30-plus years saw him going off on all sorts of tangents – real estate flipper, limo driver, vending route owner/operator, laundromat owner/operator – but always returning to his first love, mechanics.
If it had an engine, Jay could fix it. During the 70s he bought, refurbished and sold used cars with a fellow fireman. He worked as his buddy George’s pit crew, servicing the motorcycle that ran the cross-country Cannonball Run and US Express races; George would race from east to west and then Jay would fly out, meet George at the finish line, and leisurely drive the bike back home.
Jay had many racing adventures on two and four wheels: after George took a run at Bonneville Salt Flats on the motorcycle, Jay took a pass in the beat-up old van they used to transport the bike – it topped out at 82 miles per hour. Jay would go on to race the quarter mile in his dream vehicle: a custom-restored `72 GMC pickup at Island Dragway in Great Meadows where he also acted as a drag-racing performance consultant using then-nascent computer technology to aid his analysis. When he started using the truck for leisure driving, he souped up a `78 Malibu and raced it until he retired from racing, being announced as “The Legendary Jay Knapp.”
He took his family on many summer vacations in a pickup truck and travel trailer and he visited all the states in the U.S. except for North Dakota. He continued the tradition with many cross-country road trips with his daughter, Jill. He helped his son Jeff build various props for theatrical productions – a water pump for “The Miracle Worker,” boardwalk rolling chairs for “Sugar” and “Pukis Aloticus” for “God of Carnage.”
He lived in Bloomfield for the first third of his life, moving out west to East Hanover for the second third before finishing up in Hardwick on a piece of land with a detached three car garage, where he built and fixed many things with his family and motorhead friends.
He is survived by his son Jeff and his wife Mindy; his daughter Jill and her partner Matt; his grandchildren Molly, Jack and Emily; his sister, Judith Warner; and the family he chose – Adam, Bobby, Tommy, Steve and all the Monday Morning Morons.
A celebration will be held in late August (contact the family for details) and final arrangements are entrusted to Newbaker Funeral Home, 200 Route 94, Blairstown.
In lieu of flowers, please grill out with the ones you love and have a burger in his honor (and don’t forget the ketchup).