Carolyn “Cary” L. Garvaglia


NIAGARA, Wis. — Carolyn “Cary” L. Garvaglia, 88, of Niagara, passed away on Jan. 15, 2020, at Maryhill Manor in Niagara.

Cary was born on Sept. 14, 1931, in Clintonville, Wis., daughter of the late Nels and Nina (Shingler) Hanson. She grew up and attended school in Clintonville. After graduating, Cary continued her education and received her teaching certificate from Oshkosh State Teachers College.

She began her teaching career in one-room schoolhouses in Shawano, Wis. and Marion, Wis., while taking care of her dad.

Cary was introduced to Raymond “Jabbo” by her coworker, who was also Raymond’s sister, Lois Garvaglia Sielaff. At Lois’ urging, they met in August when Jabbo was home on leave from the Army. When Cary walked into the living room of the family’s home, the first and only thing she saw was him. They were married on Aug. 21, 1954. Together they moved to Niagara and raised their five children.

Never one to sit still, Cary continued her education at Northern Michigan University, earning her bachelor’s degree in 1972 and a master’s degree in 1977. While researching her master’s thesis, Cary became keenly interested in the history of Niagara. Her thesis on the history of Niagara sparked the writing of many articles and two published books, which are housed in the State Historical Society in Madison and are available to the public.

Cary was assisting the Niagara Historical Society, interviewing additional members of the community for their stories when she had her stroke. Two of the interviews were taped and appear as YouTube videos called “Conversations with Cary.”

She taught grade school in the Niagara school system for many years. She was the school’s tooth fairy. Anyone, from any grade, who had a loose tooth, would come to her to have it pulled. She would put the tooth in an envelope with a note to bring home and reward the child for their bravery with a lemon drop. She taught in Niagara until she retired at age 62, but continued to substitute in the school district until the age of 80.

Cary was an active member of St. Anthony Catholic Church in Niagara and served as a lector, Eucharistic minister, and with the St. Anthony Council of Catholic Women.

Ray and Cary loved to garden. They took great joy in sharing the garden’s bounty with many people in the community.

She and Ray also operated a Christmas tree farm at their home and enjoyed offering sleigh rides and sharing the Christmas spirit with everyone who came.

The couple traveled extensively, both in the United States and abroad.

Cary was also a talented seamstress.

She was the pitcher for Niagara’s women’s softball team.

In addition to her parents, Cary was preceded in death by her husband, Raymond in 2017; her son, Jeffrey Garvaglia; her granddaughter, Kymberly Garvaglia; three brothers, Bud, Bob and Charlie Hanson; and her sister, Laurie Nass.

Cary is survived by her children, Jacalyn (Jeff) Courney of Niagara, Todd (Linda Severson) Garvaglia of Niagara, Craig (Maureen) Garvaglia of Niagara and Christine Bratta of Round Lake, Ill.; 11 grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; and many precious nieces and nephews.

Visitation will be from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 18 at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Niagara.

Funeral services will follow at 11 a.m. Fr. Michael Lightner will offer the Mass of Christian Burial.

Burial will be in the Niagara Cemetery in the spring.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in her memory to The Niagara Educational Scholarship fund or The Niagara Historical Society.

Condolences to the family of Carolyn Garvaglia may be expressed online at www.ernashfuenralhomes.com.

The family has entrusted the Erickson-Rochon & Nash Funeral Home of Iron Mountain with the arrangements.