Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Sun
Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2009 | 3:38 p.m.
Darrell McGarvey always told his daughter Vicki that if she could get rid of the humidity and bugs in Austin, Texas, he'd consider moving there to be closer to her family.
The bug situation hasn't changed, but as McGarvey, 76, has grown older, his arthritic joints seem to like the Texas humidity better than Nevada's desert heat. He is moving to Austin in November, leaving Boulder City behind after 29 years.
Before the longtime print shop operator and photographer goes, various community groups have been racing to host parties for him and give him well-deserved honors.
The accolades began Oct. 17, when the Friends of the Arts awarded him the Alice Isenberg Advocacy Award for his support of the arts in front of 250 people at an outdoor concert. McGarvey took over the presidency of the group after Isenberg died in 2003. Past recipients include Dottie Conner, Amy Arnaz and Vern and Darlene Burk.
The Sunrise Rotary plans to honor him at a party hosted by his landlady Pamela Ham Oct. 29. The festivities, which are open to the public, begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Boulder City Art Guild Gallery in the Boulder Dam Hotel, 1305 Arizona St.
And the Boulder City Art Guild, where McGarvey has volunteered full time for the past several years, will have a members-only sendoff for him Nov. 7.
The attention is hard for McGarvey to absorb, Friends of the Arts President Christy Springgate-Hill said.
"He says. 'I haven't done that much. I don't know why everyone's making such a big deal,'" Springgate-Hill said. "He's real modest. It chokes him up that he's being recognized."
So modest, in fact, that the group planned to present the Isenberg Award during an already planned concert and tried to keep it a surprise. They were afraid McGarvey wouldn't show up if he knew about it in advance.
He found out, so board members took him out to dinner and made sure he arrived at the concert on time, Springgate-Hill said.
Along with the Isenberg Award, Mayor Roger Tobler declared it Darrell McGarvey Day in Boulder City.
Despite his discomfort in the spotlight, McGarvey consented to an interview to review his life in Boulder City.
After his retirement from the Air Force, McGarvey and his late wife, Eve, started looking for a warmer place to retire. They headed for Tucson, Ariz., gathering information about small towns along the way.
They landed in Boulder City on a Sunday in 1980 when nothing was open, bought a copy of the local newspaper and moved on to Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
The newspaper convinced them that Boulder City was right for them, and they settled here, opening a print shop, Boulder Images, at 1000 Nevada Way.
The shop designed tickets and programs for every event in town, Ham said, and the McGarveys made their presence felt with their volunteer efforts.
"There was no event or organization that did not benefit from the generosity and help of the McGarvey team," Ham said.
Those events included the Damboree, where McGarvey organized the fireworks show for 15 years, the Christmas parades, Spring Jamboree and the 50th Hoover Dam Depression Dinner.
He also helped establish Reflections Park, found the Sunrise Rotary, create C-COPS, a citizens patrol group, and organize the First Night New Year's celebrations.
McGarvey sold his shop and tried to retire from the print business, but former customers kept asking him if he still had the templates for their business cards and other work. He didn't and his old print shop had burned down under the new owner, so he formed Mac's Shack and started recreating them and finding print shops to reproduce the work. Because he was retired, he priced the work just above his cost.
He will continue to operate Mac's Shack from Texas, he said.
He also hopes to return to oil painting, he said. He had set that love aside when he moved to Boulder City, because the print shop was so busy. His artwork has been in photography and, while his wall-sized works are no longer in the gallery, his postcards will remain.
His duties at the Boulder City Art Guild will be split up among several board members, said Rosemarie Iliano, assistant treasurer and past president. And the artists will continue to take turns to keep the gallery open for the all-volunteer organization, she said.
McGarvey says he plans to focus on his art in Texas, though he doesn't rule out getting involved in another gallery.
"I've retired four times," he said. "This will be my last time."