Mary Jane "Jari" Elizabeth Foster Pulford

  • Born: May 7, 1947
  • Died: March 31, 2020
  • Location: Augusta, Michigan

Farley Estes Dowdle Funeral Home Cremation Care, Richland Chapel

9170 East D Avenue
Richland, MI 49083

Tel. (269) 629-6022

Tribute & Message From The Family

Mary Jane "Jari" Elizabeth Foster Pulford, age 72, of Augusta sadly passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by family, on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. She was born in Hibbing, Minnesota on May 7, 1947, the loving daughter of Arthur I. and Margaret C. (Le Claire) Foster. She graduated from Hibbing High School with the class of 1965 and went on to study Social Psychology at St. Olaf College, where she graduated with Honors. She continued her education at the University of Michigan and graduated with a master's degree in Public Health, Health Education and Health Behavior. She had an extensive career in social justice and public health, beginning in Washington D.C. where she helped start the U.S. Navy Race Relations School in Key West, FL in the 70's. After obtaining her MPH, she moved to Lansing and worked for the Michigan Department of Public Health. While there she co-developed the first Michigan State Plan for Emergency Medical Services. She also became a volunteer Paramedic in Grand Ledge, where she met her husband, Mike. In the late 70's she became Executive Director of SWM Systems, the regional EMS agency covering the lower peninsula of Michigan and held that job for the next 30 years. While there she developed Camp 9-1-1, a program to teach children about first aid and safety that is still taught by EMS agencies across Michigan today. Following her retirement from SWM in 2008, she worked as a project manager for Open Doors Kalamazoo, which provides shelter and affordable housing for low-income working people, until her official retirement last year. There she started the "Adopt A Room" program and scholarship fund. She was also an author of many public health articles and the children's book "The World is a Rainbow".

Jari is survived by her beloved husband of 42 years, Michael A. Pulford of Augusta; her children, Megan (Joe) White of Alabama; Sara (Brandon) Harrison of Howell; and Matthew Pulford of Indiana; and grandchildren Maggie, Abby, Tess, Emmy, Hannah, Max, and Lincoln.

Jari was an active member of St. Timothy's Episcopal Church in Richland, having served on the vestry and social ministry committee. She spent her life as a fierce advocate for social justice. She was an avid reader, expert scrabble player, MENSA member, volunteer, loving wife, mother, grandmother, and loyal friend. Her favorite role was that of "Omma" to her seven grandchildren, whom she adored and spoiled regularly. She enjoyed playing board games, collecting penguin figurines, walks to the MSU Bird Sanctuary, trips to Disney World and Alabama, pontoon rides and relaxing at "pancake island", and bonfires and s'mores with her family. She also loved spending time with her many dear friends.

Guided by her faith, Jari dedicated her life to the service of others and lived by the following principle and favorite quote:
"I shall pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again." -Steven Grellet

Due to the recent government regulations regarding gatherings, and the large number of people who knew and loved Jari, a public celebration of her life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to Open Doors Kalamazoo or the Social Ministry Fund at St. Timothy's Episcopal Church in Richland. Arrangements by Farley Estes Dowdle Funeral Home & Cremation Care, Richland Chapel.

Condolence & Memory Journal

Mike, I read of the recent loss of your wife. I am so sorry to hear of your loss. It has been a long time since we worked together at Borgess. I always think of you when I visit at TR Hospital. I never knew your wife, but 42 years is a long time, so I can only imagine how challenging this is for you. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers for God's peace and comfort at this especially difficult time. God Bless You and your family. Warm Regards, Deb Spencer

Posted by Deb Spencer - Marcellus, MI - Coworker   April 19, 2020

Mike, I am so sorry to hear about Jari. She was an amazing person who had such an impact on the world. I will be thinking of you, Megan, Sarah and Matthew. With love, Ruth

Posted by Ruth Zielinski - Richland, MI - Friend   April 09, 2020

My sincere condolences. I worked with Jari for several years on traffic safety projects and we became friends also. She was so intelligent and she always was thinking outside the box. She truly loved her family as all of you know.2n34y

Posted by Sue Guggemos - East Lansing, MI - Coworker   April 07, 2020

A beautiful woman and dear friend-we will all miss her so

Posted by JoAnn Fink - Minneapolis, MN - Friend   April 07, 2020

Dear Mike and familyI'm sadden by this news. Jari has a special place in my heart. I will always remember her with love and fondness. My best to you and your family.

Posted by Anna Ramirez - Elk Grove, CA - Friend   April 06, 2020

Mike, I was very saddened to learn of Jari's passing this week. I always enjoyed working with Jari at SWM back in the old days. She was always cool and calm when dealing with not so calm docs and hospital administrators. My deepest condolences to you and your family.

Posted by Mike Peikert - Hickory Corners, MI - Friend   April 05, 2020


I am so sorry for your Mike and family. Be strong, be faithful, love one another. Her memory will never fade.

Posted by JoAnn Mort - Augusta, MI - Friend   April 04, 2020

Enjoyed working with and learning so much from Jari while serving on the Board of Dirctors of SWMs. Jari was instrumental in many aspects of the emergency medical system in Michigan.

My prayers go out for Mike and her family.

Posted by Kevin Schneider - Vidalia, GA - Friend   April 04, 2020

What a wonderful life she had! R.I.P Mary Jane

Posted by Cynthia Wakefield - Hibbing, MN - Classmate   April 03, 2020

Prayers go out to the entire Pulford family from the volunteers and staff of the former Mendon Ambulance Service.

Posted by Dale Eickhoff - Mendon - Coworker   April 03, 2020

Mike and family, praying for you all. Jari was so kind, I always enjoyed seeing her. Sincerely, James

Posted by James Bray - Portage, MI - Friend   April 02, 2020

Jari was an incredible woman,Mom,wife, grandmother and daughter-in-law. We will miss her smile, generous heart, laughter and kindness. I know she is in heaven smiling down at her beautiful family. Wish we could be there to give lots of hugs and an understanding heart.Love you all.xoxo

Posted by Laureen Pulford - Groton, MA - Family   April 02, 2020

Mike: I am so sad reading this. Jari was an incredible woman who was a strong advocate for what was dear to her heart. I still remember her calmness and quiet manner mixed with determination. My prayers are coming your way for peace and strength during this difficult journey

Posted by Mary Gillespie-Smith - Port Charlotte, FL - Friend   April 02, 2020

Jerry was a great friend and guide in the EMS world. She was truly a special person. Many prayers and all sympathies for you all.

Posted by Evelyn Barnum - Fenton, MI - Friend   April 02, 2020

Jari made an early and lasting impression on me, as I'm sure she did with so many others. She was an inspiration and a mentor to a young EMT, paramedic and I/C who still tries to share something of her style and grace.

Posted by Dale Wilson - Delton, MI - Friend   April 02, 2020

My thoughts and prayers are with the entire family. Met Jari a few times through her son Matt. She was always a cheerful and joyous person.

Posted by Jacob Longman - Mishawaka, IN - Acquaintance   April 02, 2020

Worked with her at SWM Systems as the Region 3 Education/Exam Coordinator 2003 - 2005

Posted by Paul Sorrell - Toledo, OH - Coworker   April 02, 2020

So sorry to hear, our prayers are with your family

Posted by Ron Tharge - Otsego, MI - Friend   April 02, 2020

I'm so sorry for your loss Mike. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.

Posted by Marilyn Fallon - Portage, MI - Acquaintance   April 02, 2020

So sorry to hear this, thoughts and prayers for all who loved her ❤

Posted by Ann Stopher    April 02, 2020

We will miss you a lot. Your smile and love was on your face all the time. Rest well my friend. Colleen

Posted by Colleen Reynolds - Richland, MI - Friend   April 02, 2020

My deepest condolences to the whole Pulford family. Jeri was one of the sweetest ladies I have ever known.
She was so proud of her children, who inherited her quiet, loving spirit. I will miss seeing her at all those public events.

Posted by Jack Sizer - Richland, MI - Friend   April 02, 2020

Jari was a remarkable woman. She was so loving, kind and made us always feel part of her family. Jari you will be missed by all that loved you dearly. Rest in HIS arms. ❤❤

Posted by Lori Bell - Brownstown, MI - Family   April 02, 2020

I enjoyed working with Jari for 5 years at SWMEMS. Her quiet wit, dedication to our work was exceptional. An only child I was delighted to see in recent years her devotion to her many grandchildren. A good citizen in so many ways.

Posted by Christine DeCourtney - Nikiski, AK - Coworker   April 02, 2020