He was born in St. Louis, on July 25, 1939 to Ross C. Garlich and Leona (Grattendick) Garlich. The family moved often in the early years as Ross was an Officer in the Air Force and served in World War II. They settled in Jefferson City in 1954 when Ross was promoted to Brigadier General of the Air National Guard.
Garlich graduated from Jefferson City High School, where he was active in sports and drama, and from Central Missouri State University (CMSU) with a Bachelor’s degree in Education. In 1961, he was on his way to graduate school in Louisiana when what he called “a random act of fate” changed his course. He was on active duty with his Air National Guard unit in Wisconsin when the Berlin Crisis arose and his unit was placed on permanent active duty with the likelihood of being deployed to Germany within months. He cancelled plans to go to Louisiana and packed for Germany, but was taken off active duty at the last moment as another unit ended up being deployed.
He quickly enrolled in graduate school at CMSU and accepted a part-time position with the Crippled Children’s Center in Sedalia as a Speech Therapist. He was promoted to executive director of what was renamed the Children’s Therapy Center at the age of 26 in 1965 – a position he held for 44 years until his retirement in 2009. What began in a small house across from Bothwell Hospital serving nine children with one teacher became an inclusive, comprehensive organization with multiple programs serving babies to retirement age people in 31 Central Missouri counties through his leadership and vision. Garlich played a key role in drafting legislation to law makers and consulted to many counties and peers in the field. He shaped the manner in which community based services were provided throughout the state of Missouri.
Garlich was a founding member of the Missouri Association of County Developmental Disabilities Services (MACDDS) and worked as a consultant for the Missouri Department of Mental Health from 2009 until his passing. He testified countless times in the House and Senate to advocate for the rights of people with disabilities and access to local, high quality services and supports.
In 2003, hemarried Pam (Wheeler) Garlich, who survives of the home. Upon retirement, they moved to the Lake of the Ozarks and made their home in the house his parents had purchased in 1972. He loved the lake and enjoyed fishing, boating, skiing, and peaceful sunsets there for many years with his family. While his work was his passion, his family was always the most important thing in life. He was a loving and supportive husband, father, friend and grandfather who will be truly missed by all who knew him.
In addition to his wife, survivors include his son, Brad (Sella) Garlich, of Maryland Heights, his daughter, Stacey (Michael) Ismail, of Carrollton, Texas, and four grandchildren: Lucy and Marie Garlich of Maryland Heights, and Audrey and Megan Ismail of Carrollton, Texas. He was preceded in death by his parents and brother, Bruce Garlich of Costa Mesa, Calif.
The family will receive friends at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10 at the Roger A. Garlich Activity Center, 4415 W. Main Street, Sedalia. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 11 at the Roger A. Garlich Activity Center with the Rev. Steve Graff officiating. Honorary pallbearers will be Jim Matthewson, Roger Alewel, Joel Case, James T. Buckley, Van VanDyne and Les Wagner.
The family suggests memorial contributions be made to the Center for Human Services in care of McLaughlin Funeral Chapel.