Dale McGarvey passed away July 22, 2017, at the age of 90. Dale was born in Great Falls Montana to Arthur and Vercie McGarvey. Dale’s early years were spent in Sunburst, Conrad, Plains and Kalispell. He attended school in Denver and Tucson but graduated from Flathead County High School in 1945. He was especially fond of spending summers camping on the shores of Lake McDonald with his mother and grandmother to escape his hay fever while his father ran the family gas station and vulcanizing business in Conrad, and eventually the gas station and “McGarvey Shamrock Motel” in Evergreen. Dale attended the elementary school in Apgar and went to the 1933 opening of Logan Pass. For the rest of his life, Sprague Creek would remain his favorite park destination.
While the family had little money, they were determined to see that Dale got a college education. In summers, he worked as a section hand on the railroad. This experience made him determined to pursue his education. He received his law degree from the University of Montana, graduating at top in his class. While attending UM, Dale met his first wife, Elsie Taylor, in a student boarding house. They were married on August 30th, 1951. Dale went on to Harvard Law School where he earned a Master of Laws degree. The couple moved back to Montana and settled in Kalispell where they raised four children, enjoying summers at the Whitefish Lake cabin and many adventures in Glacier National Park.
Dale founded his law practice in Kalispell in 1955 and he quickly became known as a fierce advocate, securing justice for his “common-man” clients in historic battles with big companies, government and insurers. After the 1964 flood in Evergreen, he prevailed in protecting the 100-year flood zone designation for property owners who pay less in flood insurance to this day. He won fair compensation for clients whose land was taken for highway construction and for the farmers of the Kootenai valley whose land was condemned for the Koocanusa Dam. He protected the air quality of the Flathead from the fluoride emissions of the Anaconda Aluminum Co., forcing the installation of pollution scrubbers, setting a national precedent for individual rights to clean air, and returning the mountain to the green we see today. He also protected many individuals from the bad faith schemes of insurance companies that would deprive them of the protection they had paid for. Dale took his advocacy into politics as a life-long Democrat and served as a Montana state legislator for the 31st district in 1957 and 1959.
Dale had a great love for the outdoors and took his family on many adventures of fishing, hiking, backpacking and wilderness rafting. He loved staying at Sperry Chalet, playing bridge and “German poker” - joyfully celebrating his successes in unbridled competition with his grandchildren.
He also had a great love of music. While a middle schooler, he was proud to be chosen to play his trombone with the Flathead County High School band. He had a rich baritone voice and often sang at church or weddings. Later, he was delighted to sing with friends and family with the “Irish Minstrels.”
He married his second wife, Genevieve Purdy, July 11th, 1998. They enjoyed ballroom dancing and taking trips to Hawaii together. Genevieve preceded Dale in death, on November 8, 2010.
Dale is survived by his oldest son John McGarvey, and grandson Ryan McGarvey; son Allan McGarvey and his wife Valeri and family (Betsy Cummings and CJ Cummings, great-grandchildren Brody and Eleanor; Kathleen Lechable and husband David, great-grandchildren Arthur and Adele; Erin McGarvey, husband Dan Neely, great-granddaughter Sally); son Michael McGarvey and his wife Vonda (granddaughter Mariah), daughter Margie Henderson and husband Mike (granddaughters Catie and Anna).
As his law practice began to wind down (he never retired), Dale launched a new adventure as a movie producer, and recently completed the full length feature film “The Forlorned” (to be released this fall). Dale will be well remembered by all as a man who never flagged in his exuberance for the next adventure and the next case to right a wrong.
Services will be held at 1:00 on Friday, July 28 at Central Christian Church. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Glacier National Park Conservancy.
Johnson-Gloschat Funeral Home is caring for Dale’s Family.