The Duncan Banner

February 18, 2014

Harold Garvin, political leader and war hero, dies

The Banner Staff
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — Harold T. Garvin, a decorated World War II veteran who returned to Duncan to carve out a career in politics and the law, will be remembered at a memorial service this Saturday.

Garvin, 94, died last Saturday at his home in Duncan.

Garvin’s friends remember him as an exceedingly humble man despite his many accomplishments as a public office holder, as a lawyer and as a combat veteran in Europe during World War II.

“He was a man of unlimited talents,” said retired Judge George Lindley.

Garvin has a “fantastic memory” that enabled him to easily bring up past conversations he had with friends and colleages he hadn’t seen in year, Lindley said.

He called Garvin a “world changer” for his accomplishments in the Oklahoma State Senate.

“He changed Oklahoma,” he said. “He was able to accomplish things to restore us after the Dust Bowl.”

Garvin was born on Feb. 10, 1920, in Walters. His mother died soon after his birth.

His family moved to Duncan in 1922 and he graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a political science degree in 1941 and a law degree in 1943.

He was an artillery forward observer in Europe during World War II.

Most of his friends never knew what he did during the war until 2010, when he was presented four Bronze Service Stars for his actions in 1945 to aid wounded comrades while under enemy fire.

“He was a humble man,” said Henry Bonney, his former law partner, who recalled that Garvin spoke “very, very little” about the war.

“He was always more interested in you than in talking about what he did,” Bonney said.

In politics, Bonney said that Garvin managed to “stay above the fray” though he sometimes rankled certain interests because of his conservative fiscal beliefs.

“He felt like when you give the teachers a raise, you ought to have the money. But he had no enemies. He may have had people that disagreed with him, but he had no enemies.”

Garvin’s political career began with his election in 1946 as Stephens County Judge. He then served a term as a state representative before he was elected to four terms in the State Senate.

In an interview with Duncan, The Magazine, he said his election in 1958 as President Pro Tem of the State Senate was probably the highlight of his career.

When his political career came to a close, Garvin returned to Duncan to practice law, first by himself, and eventually with partners.

When he retired from the law, his firm, Garvin, Bonney, Weaver & Corley, kept an office for him, which he used a few times a week for years, said Bonney.

“We lost a true gentleman. We don’t have folks like that who come around many times,” Bonney said.

Garvin’s wife Don died in 2003.

He leaves his daughter Shelley Garvin Sigler, his younger sister Mary Helen Dunaway, four granddaughters, a great-grandaughter and numerous nieces and nephews.

Grantham Funeral Home, which will handle services, said there will be no visitation at the funeral home.