Richard Garnett Jr., 1915 -2013

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Richard Garnett Jr.
Richard Garnett Jr.

Richard Wingfield Garnett Jr. departed this life in the early hours of November 12, 2013, following a severe stroke. He died peacefully, knowing the love and concern of many friends, the staff of the Colonnades, and family members who shared his last days and hours.

Dr. Garnett was born near Charlottesville on March 27, 1915, to Richard Wingfield Garnett and Edwina Leavell Garnett. When he was five, the family moved to Danville, where he and his brother Hugh and sisters Cornelia and Margaret grew up and attended school. He often spent summers visiting his grandparents on their Albemarle County farm, and had a summer job as a teenager packing peaches at a Crozet-area orchard. Following his physician father into the medical field, Dr. Garnett attended the University of Virginia and was a 1940 graduate of the medical school. He then joined the Navy, and was married to Margaret Titus of Thomasville, Georgia, in 1941. During World War II, he served as ship’s doctor on an oil tanker supplying Allied forces in the Pacific. After the war, accompanied by Margaret and their young sons Rick and Nelson, he was the commanding officer of the base hospital on the island of Majuro in the Marshall Islands, a time he described as a “high point” of his early career.

Following his Navy service, he returned to Charlottesville for a residency in psychiatry at the University of Virginia. He remained at the medical school as a professor and clinician throughout a long and productive career, and was a pioneer in the area of community mental health. From the post-War years on, he and Margaret owned properties in the White Hall area, on Pigeon Top Mountain and in Sugar Hollow, where the growing family spent much time. Several years after Margaret’s death in 1992, Dr. Garnett married her cousin, Hettie Love Wine, remarking playfully that among the advantages of this alliance was “no new relatives.” During his 20-year marriage to Hettie Love, Dr. Garnett resided in Thomasville, Georgia. In recent years, as his health declined, Dr. Garnett returned to Charlottesville, residing at the Colonnades, where he received excellent geriatric care. He enjoyed many happy hours visiting with his family and others at his daughter’s home in Sugar Hollow.

Dr. Garnett is remembered by his children as a kind and loving father, who made time from his busy professional life for camping, fishing, sailing, horseback riding and generally partaking with them of the beautiful ambience of western Albemarle County, which he loved and where he always felt at home. A long-time member of Thomas Jefferson Memorial Unitarian Church, Dr. Garnett had an enduring love for things of the mind, literature, science, history, philosophy, and stewardship of nature, which he imparted to his children. He was generous almost to a fault, and virtually every member of his large extended family can attest to his timely assistance in times of special need.

Dr. Garnett was predeceased by his beloved wives, Margaret Titus Garnett and Hettie Love Garnett, and by his son, Theodore Garnett. He is survived by four children, Richard Garnett III, Nelson Garnett, Margaret Sewell, and Joseph Garnett, by his step-daughters Margaret Chesnut, Libby Menger and Susan Kuhlman, by his eleven grandchildren and thirteen great-grandchildren, and by a large number of friends, relatives and caregivers who will miss his gentle spirit, inquiring mind, subtle humor and unfailing support.