Watermark Books & Café is pleased to welcome Maura McEnaney for a presentation and signing of Willard Garvey: An Epic Life.
"Wichita without Willard Garvey? Unthinkable," ran a headline in the Wichita Eagle on news of Willard Garvey’s death at age 81, in 2001. Garvey was a famously larger-than-life hero—sometimes blustery, often headstrong, and endlessly optimistic. He ran his Wichita-based Garvey enterprise, which reached into half a dozen industries and changed not only the footprint of Wichita, but of communities around the world—at a time when thriving independent, family-owned, and locally focused companies were the norm and not the exception they are today.
In Willard Garvey: An Epic Life, former journalist Maura McEnaney details the remarkable story of this quintessential American and entrepreneurial pioneer. Garvey was born and bred in America’s heartland, and lived at the center of 20th-century history. Growing up in what in the 1930s became Dust Bowl country, as a teenager at the height of the Great Depression Garvey rode the rails to California’s Grapes of Wrath orchards. He eventually sailed on the Queen Mary to the European theater of World War II, and was one of the first three American officers in Berlin after its fall. In the summer of 1945, he attended the Potsdam Conference.
Garvey returned to Kansas and a thriving family business after World War II. His "every man a homeowner" vision to build affordable homes in developing countries eventually provided thousands of families, from South America to Asia, the opportunity to move onto and up the economic ladder. Willard Garvey was a complex man, as Maura McEnaney skillfully showcases in this riveting biography, which begins with the origins of the Garvey family business and traces the remarkable events that enabled Garvey not only to thrive during his lifetime, but also to create enduring modern legacies.