Dean Harding McGarity, 97, passed away on January 7, 2020. She was a brilliant, witty, and compassionate person who worked hard to make the world a better place. She was predeceased by her parents Jack and Cora, her sisters Evelyn, Mildred, and Etta, and her husband of almost 60 years, Herbert C. McGarity. She is survived by her sons David Turner, Michael McGarity, and Danny McGarity, as well as grandchildren Hilary Turner, Jenn Turner, and Laura Turner McIntosh, Melissa McGarity Zurita, and Kevin McGarity, and by great-grandchildren Alexander and Hazel. All will remember her loving kindness and generosity throughout her life. Each of us can remember her willingness on many occasions to make great personal and financial sacrifices to help friends and family out of some significant difficulty. In some instances her fierce love and determined intervention changed the course of lives. She was extraordinary in this love and care for her family.
Born in Oklahoma in 1922 to Jack and Cora Harding, but raised in Vicksburg and Port Gibson, Mississippi with her dear sisters, she attended French Camp Academy Prep School and Hinds College in Mississippi. At French Camp Academy she met the young man who would eventually become her first husband a few years later during the height of World War II. As a war bride with a husband stationed in the Pacific, she would travel and live for a time in Southern California and Jacksonville, Florida. On leave once during the War they took a train to New York City to present her husband’s first novel to a publisher, and saw Frank Sinatra sing at the Palace Theater. After the War they settled in Dallas where she would find work and he could attend SMU. As with many young marriages, this marriage foundered and ended in divorce in the early 1950s. As a single mother with a young son she went to work for a major construction company in Dallas, and soon met the man who would become the love of her life, Herbert “Mac” McGarity. Mac brought to the marriage his own young son, Danny, from a previous marriage. Dean and Mac soon added a third son, Michael Kevin McGarity, to the family. The family traveled for brief interludes to places where Mac’s skills were in great demand, including construction leadership roles in the building of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and the Strategic Air Command base in Altus, Oklahoma during the mid-1950s, but Dallas was always the place called home.
Dean was a great reader and a gifted writer, winning a 1986 First Prize for regional short stories with her tale “The Ladies’ Man.” In 2000 she would publish a well regarded novel, “Comfort Me With Apples,” set in the South during the Great Depression.
Dean found her spiritual support through the Unity Church and, along with Mac, was very active in supporting the Church. She regularly prayed and meditated on behalf of her family and friends, always “holding them in the Light” in the Unity way.
As Dean entered deep into the ninth decade of her life, she lost many dear friends and family. The loss of long-time friends Martha Dobbs and Phyllis Kline in recent years was particularly painful.
As close family and friends began to slip away, this brilliant, verbose woman began to descend slowly and then more steadily into the sad vacuum of dementia, which ultimately claimed her life at 97. While we find our lives greatly diminished by Dean’s passing, we shall hold fast to the memories of her many kindnesses and generous character, and in our hearts we will forever hold her “in the Light.”
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a memorial donation to the charity of your choice.