John Garvin

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On March, 16, 2014, we lost our beloved family patriarch. The Reverend Dr. John C. Garvin died in Anchorage at the age of 80. He was born Easter Sunday, April 16, 1933, in Finleyville, PA to Horace and Mildred (Barton) Garvin. As a young man, he met Audrey Clark of Greentree, PA at a church ice cream social introducing himself by stealing candy from her plate. They were wed July 19, 1952.

John was a big man with a big intellect and a big heart. After college, John graduated from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and completed Master's degrees in Public Health and Social Work. After finishing his Ph.D. in Social Work, he accepted the position of Executive Director for Alaska Children's Services and moved to Anchorage in 1975 with his family. In the years that followed, he continued his mission work serving churches throughout Alaska and Pennsylvania. After retirement, John and Audrey enjoyed RV-ing around the country before settling once again in Anchorage to be near the majority of their children.

A husband, and father of 8, he married most of his children (and grandchildren), and buried two of them. He supported and encouraged, without judgment, the dreams of every member of his large family. Throughout his life, he was a consummate practical joker who slit drinking straws, started diaper fights, offered to buy cherished security blankets, ate anything set before him without regard to health or safety, and convinced his grandchildren that his dog could do basic arithmetic. He was Santa Claus at Christmas, and an equally joyous presence every other day of the year.

John is preceded in death by his parents; son, David Garvin; daughter, Julianne Garvin-Thompson, and son-in-law, Jerry Fries.

He is survived by his wife of nearly 62 years, Audrey; children, Barbara Kenyon (Douglas), Sally Fries (Robert Wilson), Janice Nightingale (Joseph), Clark Garvin (Jennifer), Kenneth Garvin (Noriko), and Lynette Garvin; 20 grandchildren, and 27 great grandchildren.

In memory of John as a food lover and tireless advocate for social justice, in lieu of flowers the family suggests a donation to one of his favorite organizations: Bean's Cafe, P.O. Box 100940, Anchorage, AK, 99510 or

A family gathering will be held April 5, 2014 in Anchorage, local arrangements provided by Janssen Evergreen Memorial Chapel.

Funeral Home
Janssen's Evergreen Memorial Chapel
737 E. Street Anchorage, AK 99501
(907) 279-5477
Funeral Home Details
Published in Alaska Dispatch News from Mar. 30 to Mar. 31, 2014