2020 Grand Marshal Jim Girvan
Jim Girvan, in his words, believes, “The cream always rises to the top.” The Kings Park St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee agrees with Jim! The Parade Committee is proud that Jim has been selected as the Grand Marshal of the 2020 Kings Park St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which will held on Saturday, March 7, at 12:00 Noon. Jim meets the criteria for selection, as: he has spent his entire life in the community; both his parents were born in Ireland; he has raised his six children in Kings Park; and, especially, as his “Irish eyes are smiling.”
Jim Garvin is a “townie” in every sense of the word! Though his parents were born in Ireland, Jim was born, raised, and educated in Kings Park. His father, James, hailed from County Donegal, Ireland and his mother, Mary McGuckin, of Irish descent, was born in Lankashire, Scotland. (His parents met at an Irish dance, held in Astoria, Queens.) When his Da suffered an accident, at a shipyard in New York City, he left for Kings Park in search of a job opportunity, like many of the Irish, at the Kings Park Psychiatric Center. His father had been introduced to Kings Park, while playing on a semi-pro soccer team. His parents settled in a home on Thompson Street, directly across from the American Legion Hall. The rest is history, as the Girvan family laid down its extensive roots in the small hamlet. “Kings Park provided me with friends, a job and a town.”
Jim received his sacraments at St. Joseph’s RC Church, and graduated from the St. Joseph’s Grammar School. He held a number of jobs during “the tough years, as he recalled: field worker at local farms, ticket-taker at the local theater, and employee at the Psych Center. “Before the shopping center was built, (now Keyfood), the area was Walter’s farm,” Jim stated. He spent much of his free time in the Boy Scouts and playing sports with his friends Dennis Kirby, Peter Guiglionnati and Alfie Dwyer, among others. At age 12, Jim was a
“spotter” at the Bluff, in World War II. He contributed to the war effort by recycling aluminum and paper, too. “People helped one another, as the war years were tough,” he reminisced, “People lacked clothing and food.” One of his memories consisted of meeting Santa at the Firehouse, and receiving a present and candy.
Jim attended Bishop Laughlin High School for two years, having earned a scholarship, but he returned to Kings Park to complete his education. “I wanted to hang out with my friends and play basketball,” he asserts. The group of friends, which played basketball games on the stage/gymnasium at RJO School, eventually won the 1950 Suffolk County Championship, at Kings Park High School. This represented the first time Kings Park had ever won a County title in the sport. During his senior year, Jim was President of the Student Council. While sitting with friends, at Bob Burns’ local chocolate shop, Jim and his pals made the momentous decision to enter into nursing.
Besides working at the Kings Park Psychiatric Center from 1954-1982 and the Northport Veterans Affair from 1982-2002, Jim became immersed in a number of related pursuits. First, he was commissioned into the United States Navy, in 1964, to work with troops affected with PTSD, as well as other infirmities. In this capacity, he helped to develop therapies for returning troops, including Pet Therapy as a way for soldiers to deal with the rigors of warfare. This was the only time Jim and the family left Kings Park, for Philadelphia, where Jim supervised the Acute PTSD Admissions Unit. Second, he was certified, with seven other KPPC nurses, in CPR. Jim would utilize this experience in order to train KPPC employees. In 1988, he and Dr. Yalder traveled to Montreal, where they presented a paper to the American Psychiatric Association, entitled Adverse Outcome of Hip Fractures in Older Psychiatric Patients,’ a study that was published. Jim believed that the KPPC staff, which was professional and close-knit, cared deeply about the well-being of the hospital’s patients as individuals. (Incidentally, Jim is proud to have received his Bachelor of Science in Nursing, from New York Institute of Technology, at age 47, an education funded through the GI Bill. Not only was Jim a capable, well-trained nurse, he was an empathetic innovator in the field of Psychiatry.
His litany of community involvement is long and varied, including: the Knights of Columbus, Ancient Order of Hibernians, and Kings Park Youth; Charter member of the Kings Park Golf League; member of the Kings Park Fire Department and Ambulance Committee; usher at St. Joseph’s RC Church; player in the local softball league (for Russ Savatt’s Barber Shop. He achieved the best of all worlds in Kings Park, through his friends, job and town. Though changes in Kings Park seem slow, he loves the Kings Park community and his family!
First and foremost, Jim Garvin is the consummate family man, a sentiment made by many members of his family. After meeting his future wife Irene in a nursing class, Jim married the girl from Queens! He is a husband for nearly 66 years, father to six children, grandfather of 15, and great-grandfather of 10. Jim is beloved by his family, who like to tease him and make him smile. Family and friends lie at the heart of Jim’s thoughts. According to Irene, (better known as “Rene”), Jim’s appeal to others is based on him “being a fair and honest man.”
To this day, Jim meets with Fr. Sean Gann, Noel Carey, Bob Creighton, Jim Kirby and Ed Reddy on a regular basis. He feels blessed to know many people; they feel blessed to know Jim. However, if you do not know Jim Girvan, look for a man with bright, Irish eyes and a wide, beaming smile. You will, instantly, be eternally grateful. Jim is living proof that “the cream always rises to the top.” He epitomizes the requisites of a Grand Marshal. Congratulations to Jim Girvan, the Grand Marshal of the 2020 Kings Park St. Patrick’s Day Parade!