F Michael Farley
I would like to say a few words about one of my best high school friends, Gary McVay. Please understand that the timing and some minor facts regarding a few of the events depicted here might be slightly off. I’m sure I’ll leave out many important details that a lot of you may better remember. I hope that anyone with more accurate recall will feel free to add information, as they see fit.
I’ll leave out most of the high school stuff, as Gary was such a likeable guy that I’m sure you all have your own fond memories. The one thing I can’t help mentioning is all the fun we had at the McVay’s second home on Loon Lake. I spent so much time there that I had my own slalom water ski and my family didn’t even own a boat. After graduation Gary and I were accepted to the University of Washington with plans to room together in the dorms. During the summer before our freshman year we both agreed that Greek life might be more appealing, so we changed our vision to pledging the same fraternity. Well, as fate would have it, during fraternity rush we went our separate ways and pledged different houses.
We remained great friends even though the stress of school and aggressive pledgeships made socializing with one another a little difficult. Often we would hook up on holidays for a ride back to Spokane in Gary’s hot red Dodge. I always looked forward to those trips, as they were a great way to stay connected and get welcomed doses of Gary’s great sense of humor. The hassle of living away from home for the first time took its toll, but I’ll never forget one of the luxuries Gary had (besides that red Mopar car) that made me jealous to this day. He had this cool suitcase with a reversible name tag. He would fill the thing with his dirty laundry and flip the label to the Spokane address and send it off to his mom. A few days later the suitcase would reappear in Seattle like magic with all of his clothes cleaned and ironed and ready to wear. I hated doing laundry, but, apparently, Gary hated it more.
It seems like it was some time during our sophomore year that Gary got a letter from our Uncle Sam. Viet Nam was calling. Gary left the U-Dub for helicopter flight school. It is around this time that my information gets very sketchy. I don’t believe Gary actually had to go to Nam and may have even been offered a chance to leave the service early, as Viet Nam was winding down.
I don’t remember Gary returning to the U of W, but rather going back to Spokane to work with his dad at McVay Brothers Contractors in the roofing and siding business. It was while working there that he met his future wife, Sue. Much to my relief Gary and Sue soon married. I say relief because, while at The U, probably after a couple of beers, Gary and I placed a hundred dollar bet on who would get married first. As a starving dental student, I knew I was safe for awhile, but I had no idea what was going on in Spokane with my buddy’s love life. I remember getting the call from Gary about his big news and how happy I was for him. I’ll admit I was happy for me, too. I really needed the money!
Gary had an independent streak that led him to try a business or two on his own. I recall his asking me out of the blue to pick him up at SeaTac airport on a beautiful Seattle summer day, so he could go buy an ice cream cone on Beacon Hill. I remember asking him, if they had run out of ice cream in Spokane. It turned out that he was researching the possibility of buying a Baskin and Robbins franchise in the Northgate Mall. Unfortunately, Gary later discovered that selling ice cream in the dead of winter in Spokane is a dreadfully slow business. After that experience he tried his own roofing and siding company, a liquor store, and other ventures I may not know about.
At some point I should mention that Gary and I each had brothers five years younger than us that, also, became best of friends. My brother, Ron, and Gary’s brother, Randy, loved to challenge their big brothers in just about everything from backyard football to ping pong in McVay’s garage. We had our share of Farley vs. McVay challenges, too. One thing for sure is that you did not mess with the Farleys and McVays at the ping pong table. Even with the age difference the comradery among the four of us was quite unique and served to keep us as close as friends could be. Our brothers went on to graduate from Mead in 1970 and remain best of friends to this day.
Sometime prior to 2001 Gary and Sue moved to Seattle. For some reason I was never contacted about that change of address. I believe Gary was working for a Seattle based roofing company, when he suffered a severe heart attack. After bypass surgery a pace maker was placed and his life slowed down a bit. He and Sue lived in an apartment on the ship canal between Lake Union and the Ballard Locks. Sue told me that Gary loved sitting on the bench in front of their place and watching the boats go back and forth in the canal. It was his special place to relax. On the day Gary passed away he had a check-up and clean bill of health from his cardiologist in the morning. He passed away peacefully that evening in his favorite TV chair watching late night television.
After a funeral service with full military honors Gary was laid to rest in Tahoma National Cemetery. One of the shell casings from the Honor Guard’s salute still remains a treasured reminder of my memories of a very special friend. I can’t believe it’s been 14 years, since his passing.
Jeanne M Tweedy (Loddeke)
What an absoluetly amazing remembrance of Gary. He was so lucky to have you as his friend. I don't know how much he had to do with his families roofing and siding business, but my uncle worked for them for many years and had noting but praise for them.
Thank you for sharing your story.
Donald R Beno
thanks for your note on gary he was a great guy don beno