William "Bill" T. Garvey
Nov 24th 1951 - May 24th 2012
Mr. Garvey: Our Local Inspiration
From the moment you lay your eyes upon his 5’7 build, Bill Garvey’s radiant personality draws you in. The fact that he holds the position of assistant coach for my basketball team may have something to do with my high sense of comfort with him. Yet I get the feeling that everyone this incredible man meets shares my similar emotions. As I approach him, he extends his pale, wrinkled hand to me. The moment I grasp it, the shock of his surprisingly frigid hand due to his Chemotherapy settles in. He quickly pulls me in for one of his famous bear-hugs. His warmth penetrates through his black sports jacket with the embroidered Green Bay Packer logo stitched right above his huge heart. When he pulls away, I notice his world-renowned, ear to ear grin. Accessorizing his glimmering smile, his frequently exercised laugh-lines appear. Beneath his simply framed glasses, a joyous twinkle sparkles in his eyes. The intricate lines of the logo for UW Madison’s marching band covers his boyish baseball cap as it rests upon his silver hair. Our greeting finishes, and Mr. Garvey leads me to one of the band practice rooms. I sit down, and he swiftly grabs the seat across from me. His faded denim jeans crinkle slightly as he sits back in his chair: ready for action.
The instant I ask about how he met his wife, Mr. Garvey’s clear blue eyes drift to the ceiling in a far off gaze. He tends to do this frequently, as if the scenes from his past are playing out in the corners of the bland, white walls. After a few moments of his mind silently recalling the information, he told me how the two met at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was the Assistant Conductor, and the lovely Michelle happened to play in the band. Once Mr. Garvey worked up the nerve to ask her out, they decided the restaurant “The Brat and Braw” was the perfect place for a first date. A mere six years passed, and the word ‘commitment’ lingered in the air. The thought must have been probing Michelle’s mind. Mr. Garvey chuckles about their nonchalant proposal. “We had been dating so long, it was time to decide if we were going to make the commitment.” His smile stays glued to his face as he describes how Michelle asked him if they were going to ‘commit.’ “I looked at her and said ‘Sure.’ She was like ‘Really?’” So Mr. Garvey, with his smooth ‘romance,’ got the girl and settled down at age 35. I later ask him what the happiest moment of his life was. Without hesitation, he responds “The birth of my children.” I quickly let out an “aww” due to the sincerity in his raspy voice. “Marriage is one thing. But birth is a miracle,” he pauses before he continues, possibly to give his gestured-out hands a rest. “Well, lots of people thought it was a miracle that I got married at my age!” His laugh lines reappear from their hiding spots as he flashes his pearly whites. This makes it clear: Mr. Garvey’s family owns the largest portion of his heart.
Mr. Garvey has priorities with his wife and children, but he always pursued his passions as well. A man named Robert Reynolds had made quite the impression on him after a youth summer band camp at UW Madison. His junior year in high school he attended the program. At that time, his option for a future profession revolved mainly around becoming a lawyer. Little did the young Bill Garvey know, this camp and Reynolds would drastically alter his life forever. During this time I noted that it seemed that the more Mr. Garvey spoke, the more motions his hands made as they swished through the air. His oblivion to their rapid movements easily persuaded the smile upon my face to grow. Mr. Garvey just kept going. After attending Fort Atkinson High School, Mr. Garvey went off to become a Badger Boy at the prestigious University of Wisconsin. His passion for the Badgers lives on even today. The Garvey family’s impressive attendance record to Badger basketball and football games allows for them to be known as true ‘fanatics.’ Mr. Garvey later went to the University of Michigan to receive his graduate degree. Not long after his graduation, he took the job as the school band director for a small village called McFarland. For the next 31 years, Mr. Garvey left his unforgettable mark as the most charismatic, caring, and cheerful man throughout the village. The students love for their passionate teacher didn’t go unnoticed. One year, the students dedicated the yearbook to Mr. Garvey. “That was really cool, and it meant a lot to me.” His genuineness is unmistakable, and I wonder if these students who had honored him this way had any idea of how much he truly appreciated their gift.
With his remarkable life, I began to wonder regrets he may have had. When I ask about some, he looks me dead in the eyes. “If I had to do my life over again, I would do it exactly the same.” Not many people claim that these days. But in the eyes of Mr. Garvey, every missed opportunity lead him to where he is today. He picks up on the amazement inscribed on my face. “It’s interesting to look back and see things that could have changed your life.” Followed by this quote, he describes a time where his missed opportunity would have given him a completely different life. Another inspiration for Mr. Garvey, Mike Leckrone, had offered him a job as a band director at a new school down Nevada. Mr. Garvey declined, only to later find out that the school turned out to be the University of Nevada Las Vegas. One might believe that Mr. Garvey would regret not taking the job which would have led him to ‘glory.’ Nope. According to him, meeting Michelle and having his kids means more to him than any job ever could have.
Without warning, his cellphone chirps an upbeat tune. He quickly glances at the number. “I should take this. Excuse me.” With that, he flips open his phone, and his rough yet warm voice flows through the speaker. “Hey buddy!” His smirk sparkles in the light as the conversation continues. A quick minute later, he slaps the phone shut, excitement written across his face. “We got white ties for the white-out tomorrow! All the coaches!” Sheer bliss twinkles in his eyes. To honor Mr. Garvey, the McFarland girls’ basketball team decided to have a ‘White-Out to Wipe Out All Cancer’ at our last home game. He’s been battling the disease himself for a while now, with the support of his family, friends, the basketball team, and even the entire community. Mr. Garvey is always in our prayers.
Loving husband, caring father, adored teacher and coach, and role model for the community: It is indubitable that Mr. Garvey is qualified to hold the position of all of these. His beaming grin rarely rests. The shimmer of his silver hair ceases as he places his ball cap back onto his head. I thank him for his time. Now I go in for the hug. I thought I had known him pretty well, but after our hour and a half talk today, I realize how little I had actually known before. Bill Garvey holds a special place in my heart, and it is an honor to have him in my life.
- William “Bill” T. Garvey, age 60, of McFarland, passed away peacefully surrounded by his family and friends on Thursday, May 24, 2012, at Agrace HospiceCare, Inc.Bill entered the world on Nov. 24, 1951, the son of Thomas and Marian Garvey.
He graduated from Fort Atkinson High School in 1969 and went on to complete his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1973. Bill continued his education at the University of Michigan, receiving his master’s degree in 1977 and began his professional career as a band teacher at Washington Junior High School in Kenosha. Soon after, he accepted an opening to teach instrumental music at McFarland High School.On Sept. 6, 1987, Bill and Michelle (Mack) were married in McFarland where they remained to this day. Together they raised their two children, Andrew and Jessica. Bill was an incredibly influential teacher who touched many lives during his 34 years as a band director, coach and mentor. His positive and supportive attitude was an inspiration to students and anyone who knew him.
Bill also shared his love of music with the McFarland community. As a high school band director, he organized many opportunities for students to showcase their musical talents, including a ten-day music tour of Russia in 1995. Bill started the McFarland Community Band with Glenn Nielsen and Dave Heilman to further share his passion for music with the members of the community. The band just celebrated its 20th anniversary.
Since 1977, Bill has been a Field Assistant with the UW Band. Being a part of the band was a source of great pride for Bill. One of the truly special moments for him was having his daughter, Jessica, with him as a member of the band over the past few years. Bill was an avid Wisconsin sports fan and was known by many as “Badger Bill”. He was also a McFarland High School sports enthusiast, having coached and cheered for not only his own children, but for hundreds of student-athletes throughout the years. In addition to his contributions to the music and sports communities, Bill was an active member of Christ the King Catholic Church in McFarland, where he faithfully served in many ways.
Retirement afforded Bill the opportunity to continue to enjoy life to the fullest. He regularly met friends for golf, helped prepare musicians for the annual Solo and Ensemble Festival, and continued his connection to high school athletics by officiating track meets. In addition, he remained a Field Assistant with the UW band, attending rehearsals daily from August through December.
He is survived by his wife, Michelle; son, Andrew; daughter, Jessica; sister-in-law, Alison (Bob) Coad; aunts, Jessica Holmes and Catherine Setnicar; cousins; and many, many dear friends. Bill was preceded in death by his parents; and uncles, Andrew Holmes, John Garvey and Frank Setnicar.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY CATHOLIC CHURCH, 5101 Schofield Street, Monona at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 29, 2012, with Father D. Stephen Smith and Father Brian Wilk presiding, followed by a Tailgating Celebration of Bill’s Life, including food and music at Lewis Park in McFarland. Visitation will be held at MCFARLAND HIGH SCHOOL, 5103 Farwell Street, McFarland, from 3 p.m. until 8 p.m., on Monday, May 28, 2012, followed by a special concert performance.In lieu of flowers, a scholarship will be established in Bill’s name with the McFarland Education Foundation.