Henry “Hank” Garwick was a fixer.
Throughout his life, the retired Honeywell engineer and stalwart member of Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church combined his curiosity, technical skills and passion for social justice to improve people’s lives.
He was a key founder of the Steeple People Thrift Store — the landmark store formerly on Lyndale Avenue that sold recycled goods and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for social causes.
Garwick had a knack for finding new ways to solve old problems, those who knew him best say.
“Hank had a curious mind. He kept trying to figure out how to do things better,” said the Rev. David Wheeler, a retired pastor who served at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church.
Garwick died of natural causes last month in Minneapolis, his family said. He was 94.
Born in 1923 on his grandmother’s sheep ranch in North Dakota, he grew up poor. One of five children, he started working at 13, pushing carts around at a linen company. The family moved to Minneapolis, where he met his wife, Dottie, at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist.
He served in the Army Air Corps during World War II and got married in 1944. After the war, Garwick earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical and mechanical engineering from the University of Minnesota.
For 25 years, he worked for Honeywell. But as a pacifist, he grew troubled by the company’s manufacturing of anti-personnel weapons and chose to retire early, daughter Kristin Garwick said.
A man of principle, he operated the same way at church.
“He was a person of conscience, and he always challenged people to rise to that ethical standard as well,” said the Rev. Sally Howell Johnson, longtime pastor at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist. “He was always the person who would ask when we would raise money to fix things in the building, ‘How is it that we’re going to raise a similar amount or more for outreach ministries?’ He would call us to conscience about that.”
Through the church, he and his wife led mission tours of India and Haiti.
Garwick also served as the volunteer executive director of Compatible Technology International, a Minnesota nonprofit dedicated to helping farmers in developing countries use innovative farming tools.
“They had a deep passion for justice, for peace, and a deep passion to reach out in ways to give people the tools they needed to be successful,” Wheeler said of Garwick and his wife. “It wasn’t paternalism. It was partnership.”
Garwick was an avid gardener, knitter, carpenter, trout fisherman and cook. He pursued his hobbies with gusto, playing the mandolin, raising orchids and subscribing to Gourmet magazine. The dishes he prepared for his daughter to take to school were never dull. “I would have these weird lunches like steak and kidney pies,” she said, chuckling. “He was very much a doer. Something would catch his interest and he would do it.”
He approached his spiritual life with the same enthusiasm, always sitting up front at church and singing hymns in his bass voice. On Friday mornings, he brought freshly baked caramel rolls to the weekly men’s Bible study group.
In addition to his daughter, he is survived by a brother, John Garwick of Manhattan, Kan.; sons Geoffrey Garwick of Burnsville and Jason Garlynd of Madison, Wis.; another daughter, Jennifer Gottdiener of New Haven, Conn.; nine grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. on Feb. 16 at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis.