Jean Kindel Garvey
is honored with a Large Bench from Emily Bonavia and Julie Sheppard.
What is a heroine? One who either for one moment or through a lifetime sets aside personal consideration to help others. She is a role model, an example of what one can be, a woman who emphatically pursues her own unlimited vision and follows her own counsel. Maintaining dignity in the face of adversity, she inspires others to think, "I can do better; I will do better." She does not set limitations on herself, or believe in them in others. She does not deliberately set out to be a heroine.
Jean Garvey was our heroine unawares before we knew anything about her other than her being Mom. The woman who tucked us in every night to say our prayers with us, and who pulled our swimsuits warm from the dryer so we wouldn't have to put them on clammy cold from earlier practice, gave us the first feeling of being loved. She made sure we knew we were her most important, if not her only, responsibility. And meanwhile, the bridge-playing hostess was founding, organizing and funding major projects around Wichita.
Born on February 3, 1922, in Wichita, Jean Kindel grew up exploring her Riverside neighborhood with her brother, Jim, and their many friends. Her father, George Kindel, started what is still Kindel electric Company; her mother, Leota Brown, a housewife, dedicated the final 48 years of life to the Christian Science practice. Jean graduated from North High, worked for Spines Clothing through her freshman year at Wichita State University, and pledged Sorosis. World War II interrupted her sophomore year at the University of Kansas, when she went to work in personnel at Swallow Aircraft, and then accounting at Boeing Aircraft.
Married to Willard Garvey in 1946, she raised six children. With all of them in school, she and Willard with several other families started what would become Wichita Collegiate School.
Not happy doing one thing if she can organize several, in addition to serving on the Collegiate board for 14 years, for 14 years an active (and now sustaining) member of Junior League, and with the League of Women Voters, going door-to-door to get people to register and to the polls to vote, she lists among her current and past contributions: serving on the Board of the Second church of Christ Scientist, and various committees; past First Reader of her church; Sunday School teacher since age 20; a founder of the Wichita Art Museum; board member of the Salvation Army, the Center for the Arts, the Wichita symphony, Leadership 2000, and the Phyllis Wheatly Children's Home; chair of the capitol campaign for Goodwill Industries. Her love of theater continues in the Shakespeare Club. She has given, and inspires and cajoles her children into giving, countless hours in volunteer service. She served on the board of the family's businesses, bringing order and sense to meetings as she did at home. She has traveled the world, and is ever ready for the next adventure.
With the first of 14 grandchildren approaching school age, Jean and her husband again founded a school. The Independent School opened its doors in 1980 with a total of eight grade school students, and this year celebrated its first graduation, with 740 students enrolled in pre-Kindergarten through high school, and $10 million in buildings and equipment in their front yard. At the age of 66, Jean completed the requirements for a B.S. degree at Friends University.
Now you get the idea: Jean Garvey is one amazing woman. And what is even more wonderful is you'll never catch this heroine saying one unkind thing about anyone.
What a beautiful example you have been, Mom!
Submitted with love from your daughters, Emily Bonavia and Julie Sheppard
September 18, 1998