John “Jack” Garney of Sun City, Arizona, passed away on October 21, 2017. Born in Minneapolis, MN in 1927 to the late George and Mary Garney, née Boyce, John grew up and attended school in St. Paul, MN. He graduated high school from Cretin (ROTC – Staff Sergeant) and with a B.A. in Political Science from the College of St. Thomas. He met his wife, Amelia “Joy” Wojack, a student at the College of St. Catherine’s in St. Paul, through their passion for politics and bridge.
John did a considerable amount of volunteer work for the early campaigns of Hubert Humphrey (VP 1965-1969) and Eugene McCarthy (D-MN). He enlisted in the Navy under the V-5 program in July 1945, was discharged in 1946, and was commissioned as a Naval Reserve officer after graduation from college. In 1971, he was warded two medals for his Civilian Service in Vietnam.
John was dedicated to his job and to the service of his country. He joined the U.S. Agency of International Development (USAID) in 1956. When friends asked him about his job, he replied “It’s so rewarding – Just ask when and not what.” He started his USAID career as a Personnel Officer in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and from there he was promoted to Executive Officer and assigned to Tanzania, Kenya, Vietnam, Thailand, Washington DC, the Philippines, Guatemala, and Honduras. After retiring with the rank of Counselor in the Senior Foreign Service, John returned to USAID as a contractor working in Honduras, Tanzania, Somalia, Burundi, Czechoslovakia, Pakistan/Afghanistan, Botswana, and Swaziland.
With the exception of living in Taiwan while he was in Vietnam, his wife and six children traveled and lived with him during the first eighteen years and visited him throughout the following twenty-two years. The two youngest children were born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In a 1965 interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune, John stated that he viewed his career “As a chance to do something humanitarian,” and “It’s certainly a matter of building up and not knocking down.”
John enjoyed his life overseas, not just in his service to his country but also as a consummate traveler. He and his family enjoyed every one of his assignments and took full advantage of the opportunity to explore their new homes as well other countries along the way. John loved to drive and he could drive any car in any country, no matter the conditions. One of his favorite adventures was when he summited Mt. Kilimanjaro in 1963.
John made many friends throughout his life, keeping in contact with many of them his whole life. He was known for his fierce bridge playing and played at every post and far into his retirement. He loved to play a good game of tennis, golf, and bowling with family and friends. He volunteered for the St. Michael’s Parish SHARE Program, in Annandale, VA, as well as the Sun City, AZ PRIDES (Proud Residents Independently Donating Essential Services). He was on the Board of Directors at the international schools in Tanzania and Thailand. After fully retiring, John pursued his genealogy by traveling to Canada and the Midwest for his research. He would also jump in his car and travel the US to visit family and friends. He was a man who couldn’t sit still.
In 2006, he moved to Sun City, Arizona, where he spent his last eleven years at Royal Oaks retirement community (RO) where he was very well taken care of by his loving companion, Dorothy Warner, a good friend of the Garney family since the early Ethiopian years. His final years were spent in RO’s Friendship House (a skilled memory unit) and the Care Center where in both locations, he received the utmost compassionate care from all the RO staff. He is survived by his six children, Debbie Ciminski of Naples, FL; Lynn Garney of San Francisco, CA; Celia Wolter of Alexandria, VA; Geoffrey Garney (Virginia) of Alexandria, VA; Tennessee Garney (Kyung Mi) of Yorktown, VA; Suzanne Garney (Dan Kane) of Santa Fe, NM; and his four grandchildren Jesse, Monica, Claire, and Georgia. He is remembered by numerous relatives and dear friends all over the world. He is preceded in death by his sister Elizabeth, his brother Thomas, and his wife Joy Garney.