WICHITA, Kan. - Longtime Wichita philanthropist Jean Garvey, who co-founded The Independent School and Wichita Collegiate School with her late husband, Willard, died Sunday at age 90.In a note on The Independent School’s website, Head of School Mary Dickerson writes that Garvey was surrounded by her family when she passed away late Sunday.
A memorial service is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. Saturday Jan. 5 at the the Scottish Rite temple, according to Jean Garvey’s daughter, Ann Garvey. The causes the Garveys supported were many, including the Salvation Army, the Orpheum Theatre, Goodwill Industries and the Greater Wichita YMCA, Ann Garvey says. “There was a complete selflessness about her. She was born with it,” Ann says. “She didn’t question whether it would be hard or daunting. ... She just did things.”
One daunting project was The Independent School. In 2009, Shirley Meissner, who taught at the school at the time, told the Wichita Business Journal, that Jean’s “heart is for that school.”
Garvey was frequently spotted walking the halls of the school, where students called her “Granny Jean.” Ann Garvey says Jean also went to students’ sports games and awards ceremonies. “She led by example, in the quietest possible way,” Ann says.
According to WBJ archives, Jean Garvey grew up in Wichita’s Riverside neighborhood. She and Willard, a developer whose business ventures included Builders Inc. in Wichita and low-income housing in third-world countries, were married in 1946.
Garvey was honored in 2009 in Wichita State University’s Plaza of Heroines, and earlier this year, she was recognized with a Dress for Success Legacy Award.