Former college president and civic leader Dr. William Garvey passed away Wednesday at age 81 at LECOM Senior Living Center.

Garvey served as the founding president of the Jefferson Educational Society. He served in that role until June 2017 when he became chairman of the board.

He spent 43 years at Mercyhurst University, including 25 years as the university's longest-serving president from 1980 to 2005.

Garvey also spent more than two decades on the Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority and helped lead the construction of the Bicentennial Tower. He also helped plan the City of Erie Bicentennial and Perry 200 celebrations.

Garvey is an Oil City native. He is survived by a sister.

In honor of its former president, Mercyhurst University will ring the carillon bells on its Erie campus for each of his 25 years of service to the university at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

Funeral arrangements will be announced at a later time.

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