James E. Garvin

December 21, 1920 - October 28, 2012

James E. Garvin

December 21, 1920 - October 28, 2012


James E. Garvin died peacefully of pneumonia on Sunday, October 28, 2012 at the Vining Villa in Bellingham, WA. He was born December 21, 1920 in Seattle, to John P. Garvin and Edna Hayes Garvin.

He attended ODea High School in Seattle, entered Seattle College then transferred to the University of Washington, graduating in1943. He got his MD from Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago in 1946 in an accelerated wartime program. During WWII he served as the chief medical officer of the Clinton County Army Airbase in Ohio. After the war, he went back to school, receiving his PhD in Biochemistry from Harvard University Medical School in 1955.

He married Lidia Alkalay Garvin in 1956 and adored her for the 51 years of their marriage. They moved to the Chicago area, living in Wilmette and Winnetka until moving to Bellingham in 1991. They had two daughters, Ann Elizabeth (Ben Silver) of Brooklyn, NY, and Grace Rosemary (deceased; Bruce Guthrie) of Bellingham. He was a devoted and nurturing husband and father, and considerate and loving to his many friends.

In 1956 he took a job teaching biochemistry to medical and nursing students at Northwestern University Medical School, where he was known for dedication and brilliance both in the classroom and in the laboratory for 32 years. He conducted important biochemical research, including pioneering work on the adhesion properties of human blood cells, and on the effects of dietary fiber on serum cholesterol. In retirement, he volunteered with the Bellingham chapter of Us Too!, a prostate cancer support group, and served on its steering committee in the 1990s.

He is survived by his sister Mary Jane Burns of Seattle, his daughter Ann Garvin, sons-in-law Bruce Guthrie and Ben Silver, his grandson Gabriel Garvin Silver, and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his daughter Grace in 2005 and wife Lidia in 2007, and by his sister, Marjorie Garvin Rouke.

He loved science, poetry, mathematics, art, nature, good conversation and his family, and was actively engaged with the people around him and the world of ideas until his final days. He improved many lives and will be greatly missed.

The family wishes to thank the kind staff at Merrill Gardens and Bellingham Health Care, and especially Dr. Richard McClenahan, John Jordy, and Vining Villa, for his care. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (PO Box 4486, Houston, TX 77210-4486).

A memorial gathering will be held on Sunday, November 11th in Seattle. For more information or to contact his daughter, please email her at jegmemorial@pobox.com.

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10 responses to James E. Garvin

  1. Rony says:

    The heart illuminated from within is the right one for such a luminary father, and his daughter, her husband, and his grandson.

  2. Dear Ann, Ben and Gabriel: We grieve the loss of your wonderful father and grandfather. What an amazing life and family. Peace to you at this time and always. Much love, Shareen, Donald & Josephine

  3. Ann, Ben, and Gabriel, My thoughts and prayer are with you all in your loss. I will miss Uncle Jim, his wry sense of humor, and his caring ways. Love, Diana

  4. Lisa Tiemann says:

    When the long trick’s over, yes…. It reminds me of a favorite Buddhist story about a monk who’s crying over his son’s death. Someone asks, “but I thought you said life is an illusion?” and he replied, “yes, but it’s the hardest illusion of all.” My 90-year-old father is dying of emphysema. If we live long enough, we learn so much about the meaning of love. I’m glad for your long connection.
    Wishing you much peace and solace, Lisa

  5. Dearest Ann,
    Your father was a kind, gentle, delightful man. I treasure memories of visits with your family in Winnetka and Bellingham. The observations and insights that your father brought to our conversations showed me that parents can indeed engage in this way with young people and continued to inspire me. My condolences to you, Ben, Gabriel, and your extended family. With much love, Melanie

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