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Godfrey Garvey, owner of a Howard County commercial plumbing business, dies

Godfrey Garvey was a retired owner of a Howard County plumbing business who helped in the building of Columbia.
Godfrey Garvey was a retired owner of a Howard County plumbing business who helped in the building of Columbia. (Baltimore Sun)

Godfrey Garvey, retired owner of a Howard County plumbing business who helped in the building of Columbia, died Saturday at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Columbia.

The Ellicott City resident was 86.

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Family members said Mr. Garvey had heart disease and other health problems, but a specific cause of death has not been established.

Born Claude Godfrey Garvey in Baltimore and raised on Walrad Street in Irvington and later on Rolling Road in Catonsville, he was the son of James F. Garvey, a plumbing supply business owner, and Gertrude Holbein, a homemaker.

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He attended St. Joseph's Monastery School and was a 1947 graduate of Mount St. Joseph's High School.

He earned a business administration degree from what is now Loyola University Maryland.

He served in the Army at the time of the Korean War and was stationed in La Rochelle, France, and in Germany. He worked in inventory control.

After his service, he returned to Baltimore.

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He met his future wife, Joan Peters, at a Catholic Students Mission Crusade dance at St. Catherine Siena Parish in East Baltimore.

He initially worked for his father at his Frederick Road business. In 1962, he opened his own business, Garvey Plumbing & Heating Inc., on Pine Orchard Road.

He initially had two employees and an aging truck. In later years, he employed 160 workers and worked throughout the metropolitan area into the suburbs of Washington. Family members said he concentrated in new construction.

"He was successful in getting firms to hire him," his wife said. "When the building of Columbia began, his business flourished. He worked mostly on the apartments. One of his greatest sources of pride was in mentoring his employees to take the initiative in running projects."

She said some of his employees became master plumbers and founded their own plumbing firms.

"If you drive on Route 29 and look to the left and the right, you'll most likely see something my father did," said a son, Michael Garvey of Germantown.

Mr. Garvey believed in education and was a loyal alumnus of Mount St. Joseph. He and his wife established a scholarship fund to benefit students who would otherwise not be able to afford tuition.

"My husband had a dry sense of humor," his wife said. "He had his charities, too — the St. Jude Hospital, St. Mary's Seminary and Catholic Relief Services — places we felt would benefit from our help."

Mr. Garvey was active in the Baltimore Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He was a recipient of its Silver Beaver Award, which recognizes adult leaders who make an impact on the lives of youths.

Mr. Garvey was a weekly volunteer at Our Daily Bread in downtown Baltimore. He was a parish member of St. Paul's Church in Ellicott City for more than 50 years and served on its maintenance committee.

He was also a pastoral visitor at Howard County General Hospital.

Mr. Garvey enjoyed sailing his Columbia cruiser on the Chesapeake Bay. He traveled to California, Utah and Colorado after learning to ski at age 55.

He was an Orioles fan; he and his wife celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary with their children and grandchildren at an Orioles Park at Camden Yards suite.

In retirement, he played games of pitch and pinochle at the Glenwood 50-Plus Center. He also enjoyed completing intricate jigsaw puzzles, family members said.

A funeral Mass will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at St. Joseph's Monastery Roman Catholic Church, Old Frederick Road and Monastery Avenue in Irvington.

In addition to his wife of 62 years and son, survivors include another son, Brian Garvey of Catonsville; three daughters, Maureen Garvey of Westminster, Joanne Garvey Novak of Naples, Fla., and Mary Lynn Hansen of Woodstock; two sisters, Mary Gertrude Kirsch of Bel Air and Jane McManus of Catonsville; and five grandsons.

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