MADISON – Fanny Garver, born April 3, 1927, passed away February 10, 2021. It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of a wonderful art dealer, businesswoman, Mother, wife, grandmother, great-grandmother, bridge player, and friend. Fanny (Puchinsky) grew up in the Racine-Kenosha area in a Russian speaking community, the youngest daughter of immigrant parents. At age 9 she contracted polio and was sent to the UW Children’s Hospital in Madison for an entire year. As her parents were poor, and had no car, she received no visitors other than her much older brother, “Pooch” Puchinsky, who snuck in once, and gave her a Mickey Mouse watch. The first in her family to attend college, she went to UW-Madison where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in Slavic languages and a master’s in Library Science. While an undergrad she met her soon to be husband, John, playing bridge in the Memorial Union. They had not dated for long when she told him she did not have the money to stay in school as the women’s dorm, required for ‘coeds’, was too expensive. Legend has it that John said if she could find an apartment they could get married – she found one the next day. They were wed in 1948 and spent 67 wonderful years together.
Fanny began her art career with Fanny’s Flower Factory, handmade tissue paper flowers that were then dipped in clear plastic (very ‘70s). In 1972, after working at the Jane Haslem Gallery (located at 638 State St.), Fanny bought it, renamed it the Fanny Garver Gallery, and in 1975, bought the old Rentschler Floral building at 230 State St., and moved the gallery uptown.
In 1981, John retired as a professor from the university to work full-time with Fanny at the gallery. The Garvers spent four wonderful decades running the gallery and traveling extensively, both in the U.S. and abroad, often taking an apartment in London for extended periods and collecting amazing art for future shows. Fanny also handled the work of numerous well-known American artists including Lee Weiss, John Wilde, Marko Spalatin, Gregg Kreutz, Warrington Colescott, and Dean Meeker. The Garvers spent many years wintering at their condominium in Long Boat Key Fla., and, as with their many friends in Madison, they played a lot of bridge and enjoyed entertaining. Fanny was the consummate social extravert and party planner, and as John would say, she never let a square on her calendar be empty.
Fanny was preceded in death by her husband John, and is survived by her three children, Jack Garver (Jean Kuehn), Christian Garver (Bonnie), Sara Garver; three grandsons, Alexander Garver (Becky Patrias), Daniel Garver (Jamie Karolich), Max Garver, and one great granddaughter, Lydia Patrias Garver, all of whom she loved very much, and who love her in return. She is also survived by numerous dear friends, in Madison, Wis., Longboat Key, Fla., and many other areas of the country.
The Garver family would like to thank the wonderful staff at Oakwood Village University Woods, especially in Hebron and Covenant, for the wonderful care that Fanny received in the time since John’s death. Sadly, due to COIVD-19, there will not be an in-person service to honor Fanny's memory. Please consider donating in Fanny's name to one of these worthy causes: The Oakwood Foundation (www.oakwoodfoundationinc.org), The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA) (www.mmoca.org/donate).
Ars Longa, Vita Brevis
(Art is Long, Life is Short)
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