“A grandmother is a remarkable woman. She’s a wonderful combination of warmth and kindness, laughter and love.”
On a chilly Wednesday in San Francisco, California, May 6th, 1931 (the same day as San Francisco Giant Willie Mays!) Arva June Day, the third child and second daughter of mom, Cleo Hecker and dad, Albert McCrellis, was born. Older siblings Fern and Bud excitedly welcomed their baby sister on her arrival. The name Arva means “of the sea”, which is fitting for a woman whose early life took place in an idyllic setting surrounded by the water. Arva, better known by her friends as “Arvie June,” spent her early childhood exploring the scenic streets of San Francisco by riding cable cars and trolleys up and down the steep avenues and developing a taste for Dungeness Crab down by the wharf. Her spunk and adventurous spirit were major assets as she navigated such a big city as a young girl. These traits were especially handy when, on May 27th, 1937, six year-old Arva became one of the first people to ever roller-skate across the newly-opened Golden Gate Bridge.
The treat that is the city of San Francisco only became sweeter in January of 1948, when high school sweethearts Arva June McCrellis and James Roy Day got married. The newlyweds spent their time enjoying delicious meals at the now famous Cliff House while taking in vast views of the sparkling Pacific Ocean and counting the sea lions on Seal Rock. They had two sons, James “Jim” Roy Day Jr. first, followed by Robert Kirk Day 7 years later. “Mom” was Arva Day’s most cherished title, and she could be described as nothing less than a doting mother. Prior to moving to Arizona, Arva loved taking her young family on picnics in Golden Gate Park, summering on the Russian River, or wandering around the zoo with her boys. She loved the zoo and passed down her incredible love for animals to multiple generations. Her absolute favorite was the giraffe, an animal associated with gracefulness and patience- just like Arva.
When her husband was offered a new job in Arizona, Arva embraced this new adventure that would soon become home. In an effort to always shield her sons from sadness and hardship, Arva worked tirelessly to set her children up for success during this next chapter. Right away, she joined the PTA at her boys’ schools, signed up to chaperone school field trips, and devoted a great amount of time to volunteering in the library. Outside of the classroom, she was still always there for her boys, ensuring they received their polio sugar cubes and being armed with bactine and a hug for whenever their boisterous behavior got the best of them. As her boys grew older, Arva remained the consummate mother. When her younger son, Rob, was suspended from school after he and his friends tried to bring in an Anti-Vietnam War speaker to give a talk at their school, Arva didn’t have a single negative word to say or punishment to dole out. Instead, she asked the newly-delinquent boys what they wanted to eat for lunch.
Arva Day’s egg salad sandwiches were legendary. Any sandwich she made had the Midas touch. Or maybe it was the light layer of golden butter that she added to each slice of bread before adding anything else. It was a rarity to be able to leave her home without being force fed an entire meal. It didn’t even matter if you had just eaten. And there was always room for ice cream. A serving no smaller than four scoops. Mint chocolate chip was her favorite unless, of course, fudgesicles were on the menu. Oh, and birthday cake! She made the best birthday cake- always remembering every friend and family member’s favorite kind. Not only that, but Arva always was the first person to call you on your special day. And, if you told her that you couldn’t celebrate on that actual night? Well, then you were in for a stern talking to.
“Arvie June” never missed out on an occasion for celebration. She loved to entertain for birthdays, Easter, graduations, etc. Christmas, however, was her time to shine. With her Christmas tree, decorated solely with giraffe ornaments, and the amazing stockings she hand-sewed for her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren with the most intricate detailing, Arva Day was always in the holiday spirit. The magic from said spirit was strongly evident in the apple pie she made from scratch every year. Even at 91 years old, she could core a green apple with incredible ease and precision. Arva carried herself with a silent strength, showcasing it to the rest of the world at only the most perfect moments.
As their years of raising children came to an end, Arva and her husband began to spend more time becoming very involved members of the Arizona Country Club, serving as First Lady and President respectively and forming close relationships with their favorite waitresses, Allison and Jeannine Joy, the former of whom Arva would introduce to her son, Robert. They also began to split their time between the valley and the White Mountains, summering in the cozy cabin that they built together. While there, she spent time entertaining family and friends, playing golf and cribbage with her girlfriends, and kicking up the snow on one of the best birthday gifts that she ever received: a snowmobile. Her husband even added a special garage to the cabin to store it. Arva and Jim also spent time traveling to places like New York, Hawaii, and London. Arva was quite the teaser, and was the only one who could get away with poking some fun at her very prideful husband. That being said, when the only man she had ever loved got sick, Arva was steadfast in her extremely supportive caretaking. After more than 50 years together, James “Jim” Roy Day passed away in August of 1999.
Even in the midst of such an immense loss, the strength that Arva possessed allowed her to continue to live an extraordinarily active and fulfilling life. She went on outings with friends all of the time and cruised to Alaska and Tahiti, with her best friend, Betty. She developed a love for reading such authors as James Patterson and Nora Roberts, experienced a real thrill when discovering the eight lost episodes of the show “Bonanza!”, and honed her skills of drawing, painting, and playing Solitaire. She always looked forward to running errands with her son Jim, who took the best care of her right to the end and who always made sure their outings ended with an Oreo McFlurry from McDonald’s. When she wasn’t driving around town, which she did well into her 90s, to pick up an Iced Tea from Ajs or to get her hair and nails done, Arva was probably with the people that made her smile the brightest.
Arva Day was extremely devoted and loving to everyone in her life but none were so fiercely loved by her as her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Whether it was spending weeks at time making memories up in the White Mountains with Gary and Steven, learning how to draw Pokémon characters with Alex, or putting pigtails in Nora’s hair, Arva always let her grandkids know how much she loved them and how proud she was to be their “nama.” Some of her favorite times included the more simple occasions when she would spend hours chatting with her great-grandkids Marlee and Tyler. Her time in the ladie’s bowling league, where she bowled a high score of 278, left her well-prepared to play Wii Sports with her great-grandson, Brady. She was always willing to try something new, and she only ever wanted to make people happy.
During her later years, Arva spent a great deal of time in her comfy chair in the bright and homey “Arizona” room of her house. While she was very disappointed by the racy nature of the “Perry Mason” reboot, she never missed an episode of “Murder, She Wrote”, “Matlock”, or whatever Western was playing on “MeTV.”
Surrounded by a very grateful family and an immense amount of love during the final months of her life, Arva June Day passed away peacefully on August 14th, 2023, after an incredible 92-year journey. She is predeceased in death by her husband James “Jim” Roy Day, and grandson, Gary Michael Day. She is survived by both sons, James “Jim” Roy Day Jr. and Robert Kirk Day, daughter-law, Allison Day, grandchildren Steven Day, Alexander Day, and Nora Day, granddaughter-in-law Allison Day (the second Allison Day to join the family!) and great-grandchildren Marlee Day, Tyler Day, and Brady Day. Her loved ones are confident that as she entered the next life, she was greeted by all of the dogs she ever took care of with little Peanuts leading the pack, and they are hopeful that Arva’s first words to her husband were a loving, “Dry Up! It’s time for the real fun to begin.”
A memorial service will be held on September 9th at 11:00 am at Whitney Murphy Funeral home located at 4800 E. Indian School Rd. Phoenix, AZ. 85018.
Following the service, all guests are invited to a luncheon reception at the Arizona Country Club. (5668 E. Orange Blossom Ln. Phoenix, AZ. 85018.)