Celebrating the life of Kathleen Mairi McGarvey
Be the first to share your favorite memory, photo or story of Kathleen. This memorial page is dedicated for family, friends and future generations to celebrate the life of their loved one.
We ask on behalf of the family that you keep your comments uplifting and appropriate to help all who come here to find comfort and healing.
July 23, 1969 - June 1, 2021
Passed among people who love her ardently.
Kathleen was born in Baltimore, MD and grew up in Okemos, MI. She graduated from the Honors College at Michigan State University, earned a Master’s degree through a Fellowship at Northwestern University, and returned to Michigan State to complete a PhD in British literature (2000). Working at a time when non-canonical authors were being reevaluated, she wrote her dissertation on the emergence of literary authorship as a freestanding profession in eighteenth-century Britain. Kathleen taught courses in the departments of English and American Thought and Language. She loved the collegiality of graduate student life and the daring of rethinking canonical truths-but above all, she loved the challenges of writing.
She met her future husband, Greg Garvey, among a circle of close friends teaching in American Thought and Language at Michigan State. They moved to Rochester in 1997, where Kathleen began work as a writer for the University of Rochester. Both her work as a writer and the community of the Office of University Communications were vital to her satisfactions in life. To take an issue that was outside of her education, learn about research on that issue, and then explain its importance in clean, accessible, unadorned prose, gave her both pride and satisfaction. As Associate Editor of the Rochester Review Kathleen published feature stories on topics ranging from the Gateways Classical Music festival to medical efforts to curb child lead poisoning. Her intelligence, creativity, and humor defined her as a colleague and a writer. She was proud to have written the University’s public accounts of delicate issues in ways that represented the University truthfully and honestly, even in its blemishes. In her writing, she prided herself equally on her ability to translate arcane academic languages into accessible terms, and on her insistence that the news articles in Rochester Review maintain the highest standard of quality and relevance as news.
Kathleen delighted in the culture of her office. Fascinated by the kinds of work that her colleagues did and the ways in which her Office was adapting to meet new communications challenges, she loved to explain to friends the complexities of her colleagues’ jobs and the challenges they faced trying to communicate the ways her University was changing and reflecting our world. Her accounts of work life were filled with the personalities of her colleagues, told with care, sympathy, and ego-busting humor.
Kathleen and her husband lived in the Azalea neighborhood of Rochester and the Highland Park area of Brighton. A very private person, her family life was spent in quiet mumbles and little adventures. As Midwestern transplants to the Rochester area, Kathleen and Greg spent many, many, fun and exciting days exploring the lakes, mountains, swimming holes, rivers, cities, and towns that surround their home. With no map or plan, and just a compass for guidance, they would drive out of the city for a couple of days ending up anywhere from Chautauqua, to Corning, to Schroon Lake.
Kathleen’s daughter Abigail was born in 2008. Fiercely adoring and intensely adored, Kathleen and Abigail were inseparable in play and projects. With Kathleen nearby, it has never crossed Abigail’s mind that she isn’t totally loved, totally enjoyed, and totally nurtured. Witnessing her daughter grow into the thinking, energetic, thriving kid she is today was the most fulfilling experience of Kathleen’s life.
Kathleen also knew and withstood the fear and precarity of a long illness. She twice endured frightening and debilitating years-long treatments. Supported by the best medicine, and healers who are as caring as they are determined to give no quarter to the thieves of life, Kathleen raised herself above the dusk that shadowed her since 2013. She loved much, enjoyed many, and suffered. Through it all never, ever, did she doubt that she was loved joyously. She wants her friends to know that she knows she has been important in their lives, as she has treasured knowing them. Those who speak for her now want the people who care about her to know that even walking along the chasm that was beside us during these years, It turns out that love must be happy, content and joy are too deep in love’s nature to be swamped: and so she was and we were happy, even during times of fear, pain, and anguish.
Kathleen is survived by her husband Greg Garvey; daughter, Abigail Garvey; and her brother, Joseph McGarvey. Kathleen and her brother were at their father’s side as he cared for their mother. Joseph was at Kathleen’s side as she cared for their father in her home. Her Mother’s siblings Aileen McGovern and James McCormack are also very close, as were the many friends she held to her heart.
A Memorial Service and Reception will be held Sunday, September 26, 2021, 1:30-3:30 PM, at the Olmstead Lodge in Highland Park, just a short walk from the homes where she lived abundantly from 1998 until a few days ago.
To plant a tree in memory of Kathleen Mairi McGarvey, visit the Tribute Store.
180 Reservoir Avenue
Rochester, NY 14620