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A Life in Print

Onetime Apprentice Retires From GPO After More Than 45 Years

Raymond Garvey is leaning forward on his expansive desk in the Government Printing Office, reflecting back on his career when the phone rings.

“I’m still trying to clean up some [equal employment opportunity] cases before I leave,” the 65-year-old Garvey explains.

The four-and-a-half-decade veteran of the printing office formally retired last week, completing his long rise through the agency’s ranks to become the director of the Office of Administrative Support.

“There are a lot of younger, brighter people out there, so I think it’s time for me to pass the torch and move on,” Garvey explained, punctuating his words with a laugh.

The Pennsylvania native joined the GPO in 1957, after he qualified on a national exam for printing apprenticeships.

“I understand it was 3,500 people in the country [that] took this exam, and I was selected as one of the 50 apprentices that came here for an apprenticeship in printing,” Garvey said.

“I served my five-year apprenticeship in the Government Printing Office,” he recalled. “It included classes in English and composition. We learned just about everything there was to know about printing.”

After graduating from the program in 1963 as a journeyman printer, one of Garvey’s first assignments was as a typesetter for the Warren Report, which investigated the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

He also worked on the first weekly compilation of presidential documents, which then-President Lyndon B. Johnson pushed to create.

“I had the good fortune of doing that one, the first composition of it. That was kind of interesting because you were dealing with some people who had some pretty important government jobs,” Garvey said. “I was only 26 years old at the time, and it made me feel like I was doing something.”

As Garvey continued on at the printing office in the 1960s, he veered into financial management services and later vaulted into the agency’s Printing Cost Investigations Unit.

“Any of the problems that went on in the building we would investigate, any complaints. We did a lot of the stuff that the [inspector general] is doing right now,” Garvey explained.

Garvey recalled one of the memorable tasks he completed in the investigations division: “We had a complaint one time that somebody was stealing typewriters, and we had to go around and do an inventory of all the typewriters in the building.”

During his tenure, Garvey held a plethora of posts, serving as the agency’s records officer and overseeing divisions such as industrial cleaning, telecommunications, the office of automation, travel and internal printing.

“As part of the records program, I was on a committee that was up on the Hill, where we would come up with record retention schedule for all of the legislative branch agencies,” Garvey said of the project in which he worked with the House and Senate, as well as the Library of Congress and Architect of the Capitol.

Most recently, Garvey has led the agency’s administrative office, which handles travel and parking issues, as well as building security.

“I’ve enjoyed just about everything I’ve ever done in here,” Garvey said.

Richard Holdcraft, a senior environmental protection specialist at the GPO, describes Garvey as “a rare commodity.”

“He’s a good-hearted fella, dedicated and devoted to his job, to the agency especially,” said Holdcraft, who has known Garvey for 14 years.

Another longtime associate, Bruce Holstein, recalled Garvey’s public speaking skills, which he first witnessed during a presentation to the U.S. Post Office.

“He got up and just wowed the whole crowd. I’d never seen him in action like that before,” said Holstein, who serves as assistant chief of staff.

When asked about the future, Garvey said only that he and his wife, Pat, still have plans to make.

One possibility Garvey is considering is a bid for the mayor’s office in New Carrollton, Md.

A 17-year member of the New Carrollton City Council, Garvey served a stint in the office earlier this year, when Mayor Andrew C. Hanko (D) fell ill.

“I was the mayor for two months, and I kind of enjoyed that,” Garvey recalled, noting his brief tenure took place as the Washington metro region faced heavy snow storms.

Although he decided against seeking a 10th term on the city council in May, if Hanko — who has served as mayor since 1984 — steps down next year, Garvey could once again hit the campaign trail.

“If I ran for re-election, I would probably run for mayor next year,” he said.

Garvey noted that he is leaving the printing agency as it prepares for major changes under Public Printer Bruce James, who has begun restructuring the agency and moving away from its traditional role in printing.

“We’ve been stagnant for probably eight or nine years, and I think we need a good shot in the arm,” Garvey said, later adding: “There’s a lot of bright people in the printing office. If they tap those resources I think they’ll be successful.”

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