Richard Garmany spent four decades living in a modest home in Avon. During that time, he traveled the world and was deeply immersed in various pursuits including skiing, playing the piano and harpsichord, tennis, fishing, and boating. A talented musician, Garmany studied piano as a child, and played with Houston Symphony at age 11.
Before his death in 2008, through his will, Garmany provided for a donor-advised fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. He designated his friend and former roommate David Polk as the fund advisor.
Garmany and Polk met over 35 years ago as co-workers at Aetna. They grew close over the years, bonding over a shared love of the arts and the outdoors. Garmany was godfather to one of Polk’s sons. Still, for years, Polk never knew of his friend’s philanthropic interests.
“He was an elegant and classy gentleman who was pretty quiet until you got to know him,” Polk said of Garmany. “Richard was a very private man, but it turned out that he had talked to a lot of people in the investment world” before deciding to establish a donor-advised fund at the Foundation.
Polk never imagined that his friendship with Garmany would lead to a philanthropic partnership that would enrich the lives of thousands of Greater Hartford residents.
By the end of 2012, the Richard P. Garmany Fund had awarded 78 grants totaling $1.8 million to support the work of area nonprofits. Garmany Fund grants have been awarded to the Hartford Symphony Orchestra for the Talcott Mountain Music Festival, the Chamber Music Series in his name at the Hartt School at the University of Hartford, Connecticut Guitar Society, Connecticut Choral Artists, and the New Britain Museum of American Art, among many other local arts and culture organizations.
“I want the Garmany name to be synonymous with music and the arts in Greater Hartford,” said Polk.
Garmany’s generosity extends beyond the arts, providing new equipment at the Hospital for Special Care, Hurricane Irene recovery expenses for Riverfront Recapture, a new health center at the American School for the Deaf, a water quality monitoring program at the Farmington River Watershed Association, and a number of other contributions.
Mindful of Garmany’s love of the outdoors, the fund has also awarded grants for land preservation for a 38-acre mountaintop wilderness in Granby and a 73-acre forest on an historic Simsbury farm.
“I try to think about what Richard would do, what he loved,” said Polk. “It’s a lot of responsibility, and something I take very seriously. At the same time, it’s a great honor and privilege to share Richard’s legacy with the community.”
This fund was created through the estate of Richard Garmany. It supports a variety of nonprofit programs, with special interest in performing arts, nature conservancy and health care, in partnership with a fund advisor. You can contribute to this fund by donating online.
TOP—David Polk, left, in red, and Richard Garmany in green. Photo taken 2002.
BOTTOM—Garmany, driving the boat, and Polk, in the striped shirt, along with friends. Photo taken 1981.