The motto of Garvey Enterprises is "Find a need and fill it". C.E.O. Willard Garvey has always found a need to swim, and he has filled this need every working day in a life and lifestyle that makes every other swimmer proud that he also is, or was, a swimmer.
Garvey started the renowned Wichita Swim Club while still in high school. This is the Club that produced the 1960 double Gold Medal Olympian, Jeff Farrell. The Club's coach for many years was Bob Timmins, who like Garvey and Farrell, went on to use what he had learned in swimming in another field. He was track coach for Jim Ryan and the University of Kansas.ams and volunteered his time and service to teach school children swimming.
Both Garvey and Farrell followed swimming to Matt Mann's Camp Chikopi -- an environmental atmosphere where swimming championships are a by-product to broader social values. Garvey then picked Michigan for his education for the same reasons, and was an outstanding freestyler on the NCAA Championship Swimming Teams between 1936 and 1941. In World War II, he helped to promote and competed in the Inter-Allied Swimming Meets while serving as a Staff Officer in Eisenhower's Allied Airborne Army. He says at age 66, he is no longer interested in sprinting, but old friend Farrell, doubts that Garvey will ever slow down or stop competing in anything. "Just swim a few laps in a pool beside him," Farrell says.
Willard Garvey believes "ideas are cheap--implementing them is what really counts." He learned this from his human dynamo parents who started the Garvey Empire, when they passed the ball onto him. He has never stopped running with it--from Eagle Scout to the Potsdam Conference, to his "World Homes"--a 1960's project that made him the U.S.A.'s largest home builder throughout the World. All the while, he was rebuilding downtown Wichita at home. He has the largest grain elevator in the world, with a capacity of 44 million bushels. "The Pharaoh only had a 20 million bushel capacity," Garvey recalls, "when Egypt was the granary of the world."
In Nevada, Garvey operates a two million acre cattle ranch where he retreats to work on his 'thousand year plan' among other things. "After all," he says, "1000 years ago Switzerland was a lot like Nevada is now!!"
In addition to the grain and beef to feed millions of people, Garvey owns the railroad rolling stock to move this food. Through his Petroleum Inc., he has a working interest in 1,550 gas and oil wells and 13 gas plants. He also was an owner of the Mutual Broadcasting Network, with 800 affiliates.
Garvey is dedicated to privatization of everything clear down to making it possible for people in the Third World to own their own homes. He prints bumper stickers saying -- T.L.A.R.T.A. --"The Lunatics Are Ruling The Asylum", and compares himself in jest to a beaver talking to a fox at the base of Nevada's Hoover Dam. "I didn't actually build it," the beaver says, "but it was based on a principle of mine."
To honor Willard Garvey is to honor a no-nonsense, high energy, strictly moral, entrepreneurial spirit who is typical of his prairie environment, and of some of the best in the American character as well. He is a swimmer who still swims, a businessman who still competes, and a patriot who still believes.
Recipients of the Gold Medallion Award.