Jack Garey Jack GareyIt is with deep sorrow that Southwestern University announces the passing of Jack Garey, one of the institution’s most generous benefactors, at the age of 92.

Garey was a highly successful business and civic leader as well as a committed environmentalist and philanthropist. Born in the small town of Brady, Texas, on January 20, 1930, Garey served in the U.S. Navy and as a railroad clerk before becoming the first person in his family to attend college. He studied at the University of Texas at Austin, earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1955 and a law degree in 1957. After graduation, he began his professional career by building his own law firm, specializing in personal injury and workers’ compensation and authoring Handling Workman’s Compensation Case for the Plaintiff, published by the State Bar of Texas. In the 1990s, he was appointed by the governor to the Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission, serving as its chair between 1990 and 1991 and again between 1994 and 1995.

Garey attributed his career transition to construction and real-estate development to the financial success of his law firm. In 1978, he founded the Garey Construction Company, a road, street, and highway contractor, and served for many years as its president. Under his leadership, Garey Construction was recognized in the 1980s as one of the Inc. 500, Inc. Magazine’s list of the fastest-growing privately owned companies in the U.S. The venture enabled Garey to begin investing in real estate and race horses, and in 2009, he opened a small mortgage company. 

Garey’s wide-ranging professional life extends to cattle ranching. In 1966, he purchased a 528-acre ranch along the South San Gabriel River; he would go on to actively manage similar operations in Falls and Runnels Counties. After observing Georgetown’s explosive growth, in 2004, he and his wife Camille (Cammy), a longtime Georgetown resident and physical therapist whom he married in 1983, demonstrated their extraordinary generosity to Central Texas by announcing their intention to bequeath the Georgetown ranch, then valued at $22 million, along with $5 million for the development of a city park. Theirs was the largest gift in the history of the city. At roughly 1.5 times the area of Zilker Park in Austin, Garey Park opened in 2018 as Georgetown’s flagship park. The park’s amenities include a 6,000-square-foot event center—once a Tuscan-style villa that served as the family residence—as well as a playground, a splash pad, a dog park, an equestrian arena, fishing ponds, pavilions, and more than seven miles of hiking and equestrian trails along the park’s two hills, two manmade lakes, and several natural springs. In accordance with Garey’s vision, the park features native plants and wildlife and preserves the natural beauty and character of the region.

Garey served on the Southwestern Board of Trustees for 12 years, from 1998 to 2015. In 2016, he was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree and was appointed the University’s second life trustee in 2016. But his landmark contribution to Southwestern was a transformative $15 million endowment gift in 2017 to underwrite high-impact experiences for 32 exceptional sophomores and juniors, support eight annual competitive midcycle sabbatical semesters for tenured faculty, provide need-based financial assistance to students, and create five endowed chairs in the natural sciences. The gift—given with honor to his late wife Cammy, a fellow trustee of the University and an avid supporter of education and the environment who passed away in 2012 from ovarian cancer—was the largest single cash gift in Southwestern’s history and established the University’s Jack and Camille Garey School of Natural Sciences, joining the Brown College of Arts and Sciences and the Sarofim School of Fine Arts as one of the three named schools within the institution. 

We send our deepest condolences to the entire Garey family.