Edward B. Garvey, an honorary lifetime member of ALDHA and consummate friend of the trail, died Monday, Sept. 20, of congestive heart failure. Services were held Friday, Sept. 24, in Falls Church, Virginia. Below is the obituary that ran in the Washington Post, and some of the reactions from ALDHA members and other hikers around the world.
[Above, “The Traveling Garveys,” from left: Ed Garvey, Andrew Sam, Bill O’Brien]
Edward Bohan Garvey dies
Was Conservationist; Worked to Preserve Appalachian Trail
The Washington Post, Sept. 23, 1999
Edward B. Garvey, 84, a retired National Science Foundation chief financial officer and a strong advocate of the Appalachian mountain trails that stretch from Georgia to Maine, died of congestive heart failure Sept. 20 at Arlington Hospital.
Mr. Garvey, a former auditor of the Soil Conservation Service, spent 14 years with the National Science Foundation before retiring in 1969.
Beyond his government work, Mr. Garvey dedicated his time to the 2,000-mile Appalachian trail, writing about his hiking experiences and working with interest groups for its preservation.
He authored the 1971 book, “Appalachian Hiker: Adventure of a Lifetime,” which was based on his six-month hike of the trail, beginning at Springer Mountain in Georgia. The book, now in its third edition, offered practical advice for hikers on equipment and locating mail drops. It also was an adventure story and helped reignite interests in the trail as a tourist attraction.
Mr. Garvey, a native of Farmington, Minn., lived in Falls Church and had been a Washington area resident since the mid-1940s.
His first trip to the Appalachian trails came in the early 1950s, when he ventured for a summer hike with a Boy Scout troop to Skyline Drive at Shenandoah National Park. He became involved in various organizations, serving as president of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club and as a member of the Appalachian Trail Conference board of managers. He also was a member of the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association.
In 1996, he received the American Land Hero Award from the Wilderness Society and the Izaak Walton League for what they said was his “tireless effort to protect the Appalachian Trail.”
Survivors include his wife of 61 years, Mary Quick Garvey of Falls Church; five children, Daniel M. Garvey of Vienna, Dennis P. Garvey and Kevin Q. Garvey, both of Los Angeles, and Kathleen Garvey Menendez and Sharon Helena Garvey, both of Falls Church; a brother; seven grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
©1999 The Washington Post Co.
Reactions from the Trail Community
... My cousin and I hiked from the Smokys to Virginia in the summer of 1975. We were both in our early teens but somehow were allowed to hike this relatively remote section by ourselves. We were definitely inspired by Ed Garvey's 1971 book, "Appalachian Hiker". At one point during our trek, we met a gentleman who was hiking his last section to complete the entire AT. I don't remember his name but we called him "Smiley" because of his constant grin. "Smiley" was a polio victim and had difficulty walking, but he was determined. The last day or two of his hike, Ed Garvey met up with him and hiked the last steps with his handicapped friend and us.
By Maurice Forrester
From the KTA Newsletter
Nov. 4, 1999
.. My first face-to-face meeting with Ed Garvey occurred on the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania. Ed and I had corresponded prior to that concerning some Appalachian Trail Conference administrative matters, but had never before been physically in each other’s presence.
.. In 1968, I moved with my family from New Jersey to Berks County, Pa., where I had taken a new job. By early 1969 I had connected with the Blue Mountain Eagle Climbing Club (BMECC), and soon I was a regular participant in their scheduled hikes. Later I also began to take part in the club’s Appalachian Trail maintenance activities.
.. Early in 1970, I started hearing talk of some eminent personage who was planning to hike on the Appalachian Trail all the way from Georgia to Maine. This news caused quite a stir among the BMECC trail maintainers, and throughout the spring of 1970 we kept up a hectic schedule of sprucing up the trail, which to me had already seemed quite adequate enough.
.. The source of all this furious activity, of course, was Ed Garvey, who had set out on his historic thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. He was known to be making detailed notes relating to the condition of the trail and its facilities as he traveled. BMECC trail maintainers were determined that he would have little, if anything, to complain about on the club’s extensive stretch of trail when he passed through during late June and early July. Although a bit bemused at first, I eventually joined enthusiastically in the clean-up work that was undertaken.
.. As the date of Ed’s arrival neared, a number of the trail maintainers decided to meet Ed individually on the trail, and hike with him awhile to answer questions and explain problems that he might find. This notion caught my fancy as well, having already had written communication with him. Now I could meet the great man in person.
.. It was early in July when I drove to the Route 309 trailhead, and hoped that no unforeseen problem would interfere with the rendezvous. Ed appeared, almost like clockwork; we introduced ourselves, and began walking. I knew that others who met him along the way had carried his pack for a distance — in part I guess to give him a break, but also simply to be able to say that we had actually been a part of this noteworthy hike. Accordingly, I offered my back for a time to spare his, and he accepted.
.. After disengaging himself from his very large pack and setting it on the ground, I duly put my arms through the straps and stood up. I nearly collapsed. Ed, with what I later learned was customary graciousness, pretended not to notice. After walking a modest distance, he offered to take it back again — an offer which I accepted with alacrity, my respect for the man notably enhanced. Ed Garvey went on to finish his hike at Katahdin, after which he wrote one of the staples of the Appalachian Trail hikers’ canon.
.. Ed Garvey’s thru-hike along with the subsequent book, “Appalachian Hiker,” recounting his experiences, was a landmark in the popularization of backpacking in general, and the Appalachian Trail in particular. Nothing matched it in popular impact until Earl Shaffer’s encore thru-hike as he neared the age of 80.
.. What has been less frequently noted is that Ed’s hike also served to galvanize the Appalachian Trail cadre of volunteer trail maintainers. These anonymous stalwarts of the trail came to realize — because of Ed — how critically important they were in the scheme of things.
.. Now he has been taken from us. His crusading voice is stilled; his warm wit and humor are silenced. Those of us who knew him, however, will remember the man whose dedication to the Appalachian Trail was unwavering, and whose light will continue to shine brightly in the hikers’ pantheon.
(Drawing by Sharon Garvey)
... What a thrill for us to meet and hike with our hero, Ed Garvey! We asked him for an autograph which he must have found odd. Once the section was complete, a larger group of friends were waiting to help Smiley celebrate. We had a piece of pie and a beer and went on our way.
... That was 30 years ago but I can remember that Ed's writings made our hiking safer, more fun and more memorable. We were very lucky to meet up with him and share the AT with him. His family should know what a positive influence he had on the environment, the AT and two wide-eyed kids from Florida who love to hike in part due to him.
... Best wishes,
— Ron Bliwernitz, Springer to Abingdon Gap (so far) [Aug. 14, 2006]
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... I was saddened to hear of the passing of Ed Garvey. His books, and life, have been a great inspiration. Contemplating a thru-hike in 2002 and even though there is a wealth of literature, Internet sites available on the A.T., I still find great wisdom within the pages of his book, some 25 years old ... What greater legacy! — Eric Lodge [Jan. 19, 2001]
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... Before the adventure of my thru-hike I was told by a friend to read a book by Ed Garvey. Who is this Garvey I asked? My friend told me he was one of the greats to hike the Appalachian Trail and wrote splendidly on his adventures. So with this information I picked up his latest book, “The New Appalachian Hiker Book III.” I read the book from cover to cover (something I usually am never able to do) and found a world of excitement through his words about the A.T. I took his words to heart when I began my hike and will never forget them. The end result was I was able to complete my thru-hike thanks to the help of Ed Garvey. He is a man that inspired me more than one can imagine. Wish I could’ve met the Great Ed Garvey. — Scott L. Rimm-Hewitt of Florida, “Tuba Man” ME-GA 2000 [Jan. 9, 2001]
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... It is with great sadness that I read today of Ed Garvey’s passing, more than three months after the fact. In 1978, I chanced upon Ed’s book while visiting friends in California, and I read it through that night. Fired by his story, three years later I did my own thru-hike. I always wanted to meet him, and got lucky at Graymoor Monastery in New York in 1984. That will always be one of my hiking highlights. — Robert Weisser, New York [Jan. 8, 2000]
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... As I hiked along a beautiful stretch of the AT yesterday afternoon, I reflected on the loss to the trail of Ed Garvey. Ed was a marvelous friend to the AT trail community and ALDHA, and I thought there must be a just way to honor him. As I came upon a turn in the trail a vision lay before me. An offset blaze! What better way to honor a man then to “coin a phrase” in his honor.
... I do hereby propose that we adopt a new phrase, a movement perhaps at first, but a new term with meaning that may forever stay with us. That the term “Garvey” be adopted to signify a turn in the trail. and that all offset trail blazes henceforth be referred to as a “Garvey.”
... Future hikes conversations can now include such endearable phrases, or Odes to Ed:
... Probably no other individual furthered the cause of the offset blaze on the AT. I believe that Ed would be right proud to be immortalized in the language he loved so apparent — the spoken word. Anyone who has met him was taken by his love for people and conversation — especially when the subject was the A.T. It is my resolve to bring forth a resolution at next years ALDHA Gathering that we adopt this term as the official, proper, definitive term for a offset blaze. And it is my ferverent hope that we all help spread the good Garvey word as we hike along the trail that Ed Garvey so truly loved.
“Look out... There’s a Garvey up ahead”
“If only there had been a Garvey, we would have been there by now”
“Thank Gooodness for that Garvey or we would surely be lost”
“Let’s Garvey that tree, so hikers can find the way”
... As you travel down lifes paths, be aware of the “Garveys” in front of you as they can guide and lead you towards just paths. — Al Sochard, Merrimack, New Hampshire [Nov. 22, 1999]
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... Like almost every other A.T. hiker, I read Ed Garvey’s “Appalachian Hiker” and because of it, I was inspired to hike the entire trail, somehow. To date, I have 1,400 miles down, 700 left to go.
... About 10 years ago in the Smokies, my hiking buddy and I were sitting atop Mount Cammerer, admiring the spectacular view, when three other hikers climbed up and joined us. Our conversation eventually turned to Ed Garvey, and one of the men told us that Ed was a great friend of his and had been hiking with them only 10 minutes before, but had decided to head on back to the car.
... I still regret the fact that I never got to meet Ed and tell him how much he meant to me, and how much richer my life has been because of the Appalachian Trail. He was a man of decency, Boy Scout virtues, good humor and a passion for the outdoors. His monument exists in every white blaze from Georgia to Maine.
... To do him honor, hike with good cheer, be a friend to all you meet, and don’t forget to bring a trash bag along. — Kevin Cullen, Lafayette, Indiana [Nov. 20, 1999]
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... I got this computer about a month a go and finally tried out the ALDHA page. Saddened about Ed’s passing, I am at a loss for words. His book meant a lot to me as I prepared for my ’89 hike. At that time there was not much else out on thru-hiking, and Ed taught me a lot. I enjoyed being with him (even when he was a bit crotchety). He had spunk, drive, and a deep sense of passion. I’ll miss his attendance at Gatherings and yet will always remember him fondly as my mentor.
God speed, — Stats Godric, aka “Bill Gunderson,” Wheaton, Illinois [Oct. 28, 1999]
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... Bill - I am so sorry for you and all of us for this loss. I didn’t get to know Ed very well but his great personality and love for the trail were hard to miss. I will always remember seeing him holding court on the porch of the B&B on Main Street in Damascus two years ago. It seemed that every time I walked by, he was there surrounded by admirers and fellow trail lovers. — Monica Cook, Rome, Georgia [Sept. 21, 1999]
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... Thank you very much for passing on this news of Mr. Garvey. I read his book only last year and I regret never having had the chance to meet him. I am a “dreamer” as they say, and Mr. Garvey’s book and life are an inspiration for me. — Gail M. Wood, Asheville, North Carolina [Sept. 21, 1999]
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... I was so saddened by the news of Ed Garvey. I only met him once, but was instantly reminded of the power of one person to influence the lives of so many others. I was biking on the trail from Arlington to Leesburg in August ’98 and saw an A.T. cap pass me by walking in the other direction. I turned my bike around and went back, giving a welcome to a fellow A.T. maintainer. Introducing ourselves, I slowly began to realize who the walker was, and remembered his new book being discussed at the ATC in Maine. I went on my way, but found from time to time my thoughts returned to this humble soul.
... My A.T. hike is without a question the most formidable experience of my life and I know, from this brief encounter with Ed Garvey that I could only have had this experience because of a few caring, persistent, and loving individuals. — Carolyn Ebel, Knoxville, Tennessee, Georgia=>Maine ’95-97 [Sept. 21, 1999]
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... It was a real privilege getting to spend time with Ed the last few years. — Larry Luxenberg, New York [Sept. 21, 1999]
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... Thanks so much for passing on the sad news about Ed Garvey. Although I never got to meet Ed, he was a major inspiration to me, as I know he was to so many others.
... In the summer of 1981, I was just starting to get serious about backpacking and I had bought Ed’s “Appalachian Hiker.” My first wife had died the summer before, and I was trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. Ed’s book didn’t give me the answer to that question, but it did start me thinking about taking that long walk as a way to figure it out.
... Finally, on Aug. 11 that year, I was sitting on my porch reading his account of climbing Katahdin when a bolt of lightning hit a tree behind the house I was living in, and I decided right then that I would take that long walk the very next year. The next day, I started walking everywhere, and I joined the ATC and bought the maps and books, and I spent April 3 to September 10, 1982, walking from Georgia to Maine. That turned my life around in a hundred different ways.
... And I never got to thank him, but I think he knew that he inspired hundreds of others like me, and I’m sure he regarded that as thanks enough.
... Again, thanks for letting us know. — George Cathcart, Director of University Relations, University of Maryland [Sept. 21, 1999]
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... I just wanted to thank you for relaying to me the news concerning Ed Garvey’s passing. I’m a bit speechless right now, not sure what to say, but will keep Ed and his family in my thoughts over the next couple of days. — Chuck Stone, Advance, North Carolina [Sept. 21, 1999]
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... Thank you for forwarding the sad news. I wish I could be at the Gathering to tell some fond stories of driving Ed to the Gathering, and serving as his chauffeur around the D.C. area when I was at Blackburn. He sure made good footprints for us all. Best regards, — Don Youngblood, Marrakech, Morocco, North Africa [Sept. 22, 1999]
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... It is with deep sadness that I read of Ed’s passing. I met Ed at my first AlDHA Gathering back in Carlise. He is and always will be a great man among all men. Is there anything special you and the rest of the group are planning for those like myself who can’t attend this year’s Gathering? I do miss this legend and and I as a hiker feel alone and a little bit lost without him in our world now. Please find some way to keep the memory of this great man alive. Sincerely, — Scott Hoffman, “Mother Nature’s Son,” Mount Joy, Pennsylvania [Sept. 22, 1999]
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... THANK YOU! for including me on this note; I definitely was one positively influenced by his prolific A.T. writings. — Forden Hughes, Middletown, Maryland [Sept. 22, 1999]
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... I know Ed’s death probably leaves you in as great sorrow as members of his biological family. Thank you for taking the time to let us all know. Peace & blessings, — Jen Stoner, Litchfield, Michigan [Sept. 23, 1999]
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... I’m saddened to see upon opening the site today of the passing of Ed Garvey. I was inspired to hike the trail in 1985 after reading his account in his “Appalachian Hiker 2.” I was also lucky enough to meet him at the 1990 gathering after his attempted 2nd hike at 70. A figure from the A.T. “roadwalk era” is gone. — Brian Doyle, A.T. Overseer, Harriman Park, New York, and NY/NJ Trail Conference [Sept. 24, 1999]
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... SO sorry to hear the news. I’ll be writing a postcard to his family. I’ll always remember sharing that motel room with him in ’96 at Carlisle. — Mike Henderson, on the Pacific Crest Trail, writing from Sisters, Oregon [Sept. 25, 1999]
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... I got your e-mail upon returning from a business trip Friday. I, too, was a Garvey disciple dating from 1975. Though there are many books on the A.T., no book influenced me as much as “Appalachian Hiker.” It was the right book at the right time. Thanks for letting me know. ... Though I didn’t know Ed well, over the years we had become acquainted. I last saw him at Molly’s Balloon in Hanover at the 1997 Gathering. Ed, myself and two others had dinner together that Sunday. ... I read his new book after the Gathering and sent him some comments. He answered me in May of 1998 (with a typewritten postcard) and invited me to his house when in the area, a meeting which never occurred. — Pete Van Why, “The Cheshire Cat,” Norfolk, Connecticut [Sept. 26, 1999]
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... Thanks for sending the 9/21/99 notice of passing for Ed Garvey. I e-mailed an article to my Tropical Trekkers Chapter of the Florida Trail Association for publication in our monthly newsletter, “Trekker Talk.” I’ll check to see if FTA received notice for the State newsletter, “Footprint.” I saw Ed briefly at the Georgia ATC meeting and was awed by the man! — Frederick B Guhsé, Keene, New Hampshire [Sept. 28, 1999]
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... Although I never met Ed Garvey, I felt in a way that I did know him. In 1990 I found his book, “Appalachian Hiker 2,” and read it cover to cover at least 15 times. Here was a man, in his uniquely honest way, dedicated to the A.T. He was the one, who without knowing it, inspired me to thru-hike the A.T. in 1999. From his own book:
“If I die, bury me well, six feet under the Appalachian Trail.
Lay my framepack upon my chest, tell Ed Garvey I did my best.”
... Well, I did do my best. Thanks for the inspiration, Ed! — Gary Bissaillon, “Mr. B.” — 1999 thru-hiker [Sept. 28, 1999]
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... I heard of Ed Garvey’s passing while at Shaw’s in Monson, Maine, as I was about to hike the 100-Mile Wilderness section again. Like so many others, I was inspired to hike that Appalachian Trail by reading Mr. Garvey’s account of his own hike.
... Though I never met him, I always feel a kinship to him because of the love we share for the A.T. It is a wonderful community that brings all of us together. So while we are saddened by his passing, we should also celebrate his full and wonderful life. It was a life that inspired many and left a terrific legacy to future generations. God bless you Ed! — Raymond Ross, “Piggyback,” Foster, Rhode Island [Oct. 4, 1999]
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