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Ray Hugh and Olive Garvey

Raymond Hugh Garvey
Lawyer, farmer, oil and gas executive, entrepreneur. Born: January 3, 1893, Phillipsburg, Phillips County, Kansas. Married: Olive Hill White, July 8, 1916, Topeka. Died: June 29, 1959.

Olive White Garvey
Author, poet, playwright, oil and gas executive, entrepreneur. Born: July 15, 1893, Arkansas City, Cowley County, Kansas. Married: Ray Hugh Garvey, July 8, 1916, Topeka. Died: May 5, 1993, Wichita, Sedgwick County, Kansas. Entrepreneurs and philanthropists.

Raymond Hugh Garvey was born January 3, 1893, in Phillips County, to Seth Homer and Jannetta Jane Post Garvey.  He began farming as a teenager, earning college money by planting winter wheat on a rented quarter of land. He worked two paper routes while attending Washburn University in Topeka. He earned an associate’s degree in 1914 and a law degree in 1915. After graduation he went to Colby to practice law.

He married Olive White Garvey on July 8, 1916, in Topeka. They raised their family of four children in Colby where he operated a farm from 1916 to 1928. Then he expanded his business to elevators, petroleum, construction, housing rental, and investments. He harvested a million-bushel wheat crop in 1947, believed to be the largest harvest for an individual in American history. He built grain elevators with enormous capacity.

He formed Garvey Drilling & Petroleum, Inc., in Wichita in 1948. He owned and operated more drilling rigs, oil wells, and gas wells than any person in the state. He had extensive holdings in land for raising cattle and growing grains. His businesses expanded beyond Kansas to several western states. He died in a car accident in June 29, 1959. Ray was inducted into the Kansas Business Hall of Fame in 1993.

Olive Hill White was born July 15, 1893, in Arkansas City, to Oliver Holmes and Caroline Hill White. She was a member of Kappa Kappa Chi sorority and before earning an associate’s degree from Washburn University in 1914. She taught English at Augusta High School from 1914 to 1916. She married Ray Hugh Garvey on July 8, 1916, in Topeka. They raised their family of four children in Colby. She became an award-winning author, poet, and playwright.

After Ray was killed in a car accident Olive became chairman of the board for Garvey, Inc. She served on the boards of many civic, philanthropic, educational, and social service organizations. She authored award-winning poetry, plays, articles, and books, including The Obstacle Race and Produce or Starve. She was recognized by the American Pen Women. She created the Center for the Improvement of Human Functioning for physical and mental health and co-founded the Music Theater of Wichita, the Institute of Logopedics, and provided endowments at Friends University and Washburn University.

She received honorary degrees from Friends University in Wichita in 1966, Wilson College in 1967, and Oklahoma Christian College in 1970. Olive Garvey was named the Native Sons and Daughters' Kansan of the Year in 1983.

Entry: Garvey, Ray Hugh and Olive

Author: G. Joseph Pierron

Author information: Judge Pierron serves on the Kansas Court of Appeals and has an interest in Kansas history.

Date Created: November 2012

Date Modified: June 2017

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.