J. Donald Garvey '50 SA has been selected as the 2020 Senator Allen J. Ellender Award recipient as Alumnus of the Year. Don was selected by the Brother Martin Board of Directors.
Don, the son of Thomas and Loretta Garvey, grew up with six brothers and sisters in a small house in Gentilly. In keeping with a good Catholic upbringing, he and his siblings attended grammar school and weekly Mass at St. Leo the Great. Don’s strong desire to follow in the footsteps of his brothers led him to St. Aloysius High School. Upon graduating, Don then followed his siblings to another Catholic educational institution, Loyola University, where he graduated with a degree in Accounting.
Feeling a strong loyalty to his country in a time between military wars, Don joined the Army, where he put his degree to use by serving as an officer in an administrative capacity. In addition to earning recognition as a marksman on the pistol range, Don felt a calling to the legal division of the Army and spent the final days of his enlistment working in the Army’s Judge Advocate General Corps. When his enlistment came to an end, Don made use of the G.I. Bill by returning to Loyola, earning a Juris Doctorate. After graduation, Don put his legal and accounting experience to use by joining his younger brother, Larry Garvey ’55, to start and run several successful businesses that provided a telephone answering service, paging service and eventually cellular telephone service throughout southeast Louisiana and several other states. Over a 50-year span, those companies were most commonly known under the name of Radiofone, Inc.
As Don experienced success with the Radiofone companies, he began acting upon the philanthropic actions that were instilled in him by his Catholic upbringing and the education his parents provided. In more recent years, and hand in hand with his wife Marge, Don has paired his financial giving with the gift of his personal time. This has manifested itself through their many hours of volunteer service on numerous committees at St. Catherine of Siena Church as well as other organizations. Most notably, Don’s work at Brother Martin has focused on instilling the core values of the Catholic Church in young Crusaders.
Don and Marge have received the Order of St. Louis Medal and received an Apostolic Blessing from Pope Francis. Together, they have five children and seventeen grandchildren, including alumnus, Brandon Williams ’18.