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Dorothy Ann McGarvey, former Rockville Centre Board of Education president, dies at 84


Dorothy Ann McGarvey (née Mainelli), who lived in Rockville Centre for more than 50 years, died on May 7. She was 84.

She was a loving wife to Charles A. McGarvey, who died in 2015, as well as a mother and a grandmother. She and Charles were married for 59 years.

McGarvey was born Aug. 13, 1934 in Dobbs Ferry, New York, to an Italian-American father and German-English mother — Nicholas and Mamie Mainelli. Her father, known as Nickie, was the owner of a machine parts factory in Farmingdale. McGarvey was the second of four children (brother Michael, of Tennessee, as well as a sister Marion and a brother Nicholas, who are both deceased).

Known to family and friends as Dot, she was a Renaissance woman who was fiercely independent and viewed every challenge as an opportunity. She was an avid reader, lifelong learner and educator. Nothing gave her more pleasure than teaching children and adults how to do something.

She was also an expert seamstress, designing and creating the costumes for several high school and college musicals, as well as a gourmet cook and baker, gardener and gracious host. In addition, Dot was keenly devoted to cleaning up the environment, as she composted her garden and recycled long before it became a norm.

Every year, Dot would try something new. She took up watercolor painting and excelled, and one summer, she saved and dried hundreds of cornhusks to make cornhusk dolls. She then entered her doll collection in the Nassau County Fair and won first place. She even enrolled in a college-level chemistry course because she had never taken one. While she admitted to disliking the course, she earned a 4.0. McGarvey always gave 100 percent to the task before her.

Academically, she excelled from an early age and was skipped a grade in school. She graduated from Oceanside High School in 1951 and earned a bachelor’s degree from Hofstra University in 1955. She also received a master’s degree in education from Queens College in 1964 and a Professional Diploma in Administration and Supervision from St. John’s University in 1981.

She moved to Rockville Centre in the mid-1960s and had four children. Once they were old enough, she resumed full-time work, ultimately retiring as the assistant superintendent for the Roslyn School District. Dot was also a pillar of the Rockville Centre community. She held leadership roles with the Girl Scouts, the Parent Teacher Association, and was a member of the Board of Education from 1973 to 1979, serving as its president in her final year on the board.

In recent years, McGarvey led tours and hands-on exhibits for school children at Garvies Point Museum and Preserve and was active with voter registration efforts for the Democratic Party up until this year. She strived to leave the world a better place than she found it, and she did, family members said.

She is survived by her four children, Moira (Peter), James (Sue), Diane (Paul) and David (Kim), along with nine grandchildren: Kailey, Charlie, Harry, Megan, Michael, Jonah, Liam, Tess and Alex.

A memorial service in Rockville Centre is being planned for Sept. 21 to celebrate the life of this extraordinary woman who was way ahead of her time.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be made to Garvies Point Museum and Preserve (www.garviespointmuseum.com), the Girl Scouts of Nassau County (www.gsnc.org) or the American Heart Association (www.heart.org).