Janet Garvey, 92

Published 4:40pm Sunday, June 24, 2012

Janet Garvey, 92

Born: May 9, 1920


Died: June 18, 2012

An amazing woman departed this life last Monday, and we are all better for having known and loved her. Janet (Murphy) Garvey, 92, passed away June 18, 2012, at West Woods of Niles, where she had been a resident since 2010.

Jan was born to Rosetta “Sadie” (Kelley) and John L. Murphy in South Bend on May 9, 1920. She was the sixth of seven children and, when she was 2 weeks old, the family moved to a farm in Woodland, Ind., where she lived until she graduated from Madison Township High School. Her love of family and strong work ethic strengthened during those years, since life on the farm was rustic, with kerosene lamps for light, no running water and no indoor plumbing. From sun up to sun down, her siblings were her closest friends. She attended Woodland School, a one-room schoolhouse that housed all eight grades. She was an enthusiastic member of 4-H for 12 years and made her first dress when she was just 10 years old.

At Madison Township High School, Jan played varsity girls basketball and was a member of the cheerleading squad. After high school, she graduated from the College of Commerce and enjoyed a long and illustrious career as a secretary. She had mastered the art of Gregg shorthand and was a valued member of such business organizations as Studebaker, the U.S. Navy office, Bendix, Shippers Dispatch and AM General.

On Jan. 29, 1944, she married George Whitcomb, who passed away Nov. 13, 1948. On Aug. 1, 1950, she married Bernard Garvey, who preceded her in death on Oct. 11, 1986.  She is survived by her seven children: Carol O’Malley and her husband, Bill Bagatini, of Mishawaka; Nancy and her late husband, Jim Seymour, of Deerfield, Ill.; Kevin Garvey and his wife, Diana, of Hudson, Ohio; Maureen deBrito and her husband, Mark of Sparta, N.J.; Brian Garvey and his wife, Nancy, of Bloomington, Ind.; Mary Olen and her husband, Greg, of South Bend, and Sean Garvey and Jenny Dillon, of South Bend.

She is also survived by her grandchildren: Anne O’Malley, Kelly Coogan, Jim, Jeff and Todd Seymour, Brian, Elliot and Kyle Garvey, Megan, Briana and Shea deBrito, Colin and Devin Garvey, Aaron and Sadie Olen and Dylan, Neal and Cullen Garvey. Her life was also blessed with eight great-grandchildren and 40 nieces and nephews.

All her brothers and sisters preceded her in death: Margaret Ekstrom, Kelley Murphy, Lillian Strohm, Marianne Tubbs, Waneta Garvey and Neal Murphy.

The essence of Jan’s life was her family, and the extended Garvey-Murphy family was close knit and fun loving. From multi-family outings at Lake Michigan to clan get-togethers at parks in the summer, from out-of-town excursions to visit cousins to annual Murphy reunions in South Bend and Garvey reunions on the Jersey Shore, Jan believed that family was at the heart of a good life. She attended the most recent Garvey reunion week in Sea Isle City, N.J. at age 89.

Jan had boundless energy and many interests and hobbies. She was an avid bridge player, playing duplicate bridge at the Bridge Center in South Bend for many years. She worked out regularly at the spa and was dedicated to practicing yoga for decades. She was also a student of nutrition, exercise and meditation and, over many years, shared her wealth of knowledge in “packets” of newspaper and magazine clippings mailed to family and friends. She championed worthy causes and wrote scores of classic letters to the editor of the South Bend Tribune. For decades, she was a member of Holy Cross Parish in South Bend and participated in the school and parish life.

One of her trademark strengths was her dedication to helping others. Throughout her adult life, she tended to those who were less fortunate. She cooked and delivered special meals, did laundry, took them to appointments, invited them home for holiday dinners and myriad thoughtful gestures that brought happiness to the lives of others. This was not merely Jan’s casual endeavor … it was a genuine commitment throughout her life. Jan’s zest for life, valiant spirit and love of family will live on in her children, family and friends, who will miss her deeply and celebrate her always.

A Memorial Mass will be held in the chapel at Du Jarie House on the campus of Holy Cross College, 54515 S.R. 933 North on Saturday, June 30, at 3 p.m. Visitation will take place at the chapel from 2 to 3 p.m. prior to the Mass.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that consideration for gifts to benefit others in Jan’s memory be made to the YWCA of North Central Indiana, 1102 S. Fellows St., South Bend, IN, or Hannah’s House, 518 W. Fourth St., Mishawaka, IN 46544.

Palmer Funeral Home-Hickey Chapel is assisting the family with arrangements. Online condolences may be left for the Garvey family at www.palmerfuneralhomes.com.

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