The Power of Independent Thinking


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Olive W. Garvey

Olive White Garvey was born July 15, 1893, in Arkansas City, Kansas. Her life spanned a period of development unrivaled in human history. Raised a Quaker, whose tenets include peace, equality for women and an emphasis on education, including college for both boys and girls, Olive White graduated from Washburn University in 1914 and taught school for two years prior to marrying Ray Hugh Garvey in 1916. Upon Ray Garvey’s tragic and untimely death in a car accident in 1959, at the age of 65 his widow Olive moved “from the living room to the board room,” assuming control of a multi-million dollar business empire and capably managing its development, growth and divisions for over 30 years.

In addition to being Chairman of the Board of Garvey, Inc., Mrs. Garvey served as a director of numerous civic, philanthropic, university and social service organizations. She received four honorary doctorate degrees and was the author of award-winning poetry, plays, articles, and books, including The Obstacle Race and Produce or Starve. She was selected as a member of American Pen Women for recognition of her work as a writer.

At the age of 80, Mrs. Garvey created the Center for the Improvement of Human Functioning, an internationally-recognized organization in physical and mental health. She co-founded the Music Theater of Wichita, the Institute of Logopedics and substantially endowed Friends University and Washburn University. She is listed in 12 different Who’s Who.

A mother of four and grandmother of eighteen, in 1974, Mrs. Garvey saw the need “of initiating some action to call the attention of intelligent young people to the pitfalls of much current thinking in the field of economics.” She settled on an essay-contest fellowship program in the belief that “inquiring minds are never entirely satisfied until they have personally investigated subjects and reached their own conclusions.”

First sponsored by the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Association, the Olive W. Garvey Fellowships have been run under the auspices of The Independent Institute since Mrs. Garvey’s death at the age of 99.