Captain Richard MacGarva, USCG (Ret.) passed away on October 6, 2023 at the New York State Veteran’s Home, Montrose. New York. A veteran of the US Merchant Marine, US Navy, and US Coast Guard with 30 years’ total service, he was 96 years old. A native of East Hampton, Captain MacGarva was born in 1927, graduated from East Hampton high school in 1944, and New York State Maritime Academy at Fort Schuyler in 1946. At the Academy he studied Marine Engineering. He graduated with an unlimited horsepower engineer’s license for steam and motor vessels, and Ensign's commissions in both the Merchant Marine and the US Navy Reserve.
While in the Merchant Marine from 1946-1948 he served in the engineering departments on Liberty and Victory ships in international cargo service. Following these assignments he entered active duty with the U.S. Navy in 1949 aboard the Essex class aircraft carrier USS Philippine Sea (CV-47) where he served as assistant boiler division officer and an engine room watch officer. While on board Philippine Sea he participated in an extended deployment to the Mediterranean Sea as part of the post-WWII European Occupation forces.
In 1950 he resigned his US Navy Reserve commission to accept a permanent commission as an Ensign in the US Coast Guard. It was at this time he married Olga Severdija, formerly of Riverhead. Olga emigrated from Croatia at the age of 9 and ultimately graduated from the NY State Teacher’s College in Oneonta NY. She was teaching elementary school in East Hampton where they met when he was home on leave during his transition from the Navy to the Coast Guard.
Throughout the following 26 years of sea and shore duty he served on four Coast Guard Cutters including the CG Cutter Lowe, which participated in the Korean campaign, and multiple shoreside assignments in the midwest and on both coasts. He advanced to the rank of Captain in 1968 and became Captain of the Port and Commanding Officer of the Marine Inspection office in Duluth Minnesota. In 1972 he was assigned as Commanding Officer of the Coast Guard Base in Ketchikan Alaska and in 1975 he became Captain of the Port of Boston, and Commander of Coast Guard Group, Boston. He retired to Sag Harbor from that position in 1976.
Captain MacGarva’s military awards include two Coast Guard Commendation Medals, a Meritorious Unit Commendation, the National Defense Medal, the European Occupation Medal and the United Nations and Korean Service Medals for active service in theater during the Korean War.
Upon his retirement from the Coast Guard he worked as an independent contractor with the maritime side of the Exxon corporation. In this capacity he surveyed and certified tankers for charter purposes and provided technical oversight of the loading and discharge of petroleum products at various ports and offshore terminals in the Northeast.
Having fully retired in 1998 Captain MacGarva resumed his many hobbies. These included ham radio operation, restoring antique radios, stamp collection, and fishing, clamming and scalloping in local waters. He also made fishing rods for family and friends. In 2022 he donated his significant antique radio collection to local Sag Harbor radio station WLNG, where it remains on display.
Captain MacGarva is survived by his son Greg, CDR USCG (ret) (Ellen) and two grandchildren, Gavin, LCDR USNR, a former F/A-18 Naval Aviator and now test pilot at the Lockheed Martin Skunkworks in Palmdale CA, and Lindsay, a high school math teacher and Math Department Chair at the Convent and Stuart Hall Schools of the Sacred Heart in San Francisco CA, sister-in-law Nada Severdija, and 11 nieces and nephews.
He was predeceased his wife Olga, as well as brother Robert and sisters Gertrude (Ferrara) and Mary Jane (Anderson).
A graveside service for family members will be held at the Arlington National Cemetery, Washington, DC at a date yet to be determined. In lieu of flowers the family requests donations in Captain MacGarva’s name be made to East End Hospice, 481 Westhampton-Riverhead Road, PO Box 1048, Westhampton Beach, NY 11978-7084,.