Stephen George Garrett, first director of the Getty Villa in Malibu, passed away on Monday, December 2, in Santa Monica, California.
Born in Ashtead, England, on December 26, 1922, Stephen, a student at the Dragon School, Oxford, and Charterhouse School, Surrey, graduated with a degree in Architecture from Trinity College, Cambridge. His university studies were interrupted by his service in the British Royal Navy during the Second World War, including three separate landings on Sword Beach on DDay. He returned to Cambridge after his service, graduating in 1950.
A chartered architect working in private practice in London, Stephen was a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects and taught at the Inchbald School of Design. By great good fortune he was hired by J. Paul Getty to renovate a villa off the coast of Naples, Italy. The project went well, and Stephen then began working with Getty as consultant architect during the construction of the Getty Villa museum in Malibu, California. Once construction was completed, Getty named Stephen as deputy director of the museum, and upon Getty’s death in 1976, he was appointed director. He left the Getty in 1984 to become the director of the Long Beach Museum of Art, and then ended his museum career helping to complete and open the Armand Hammer Museum in Westwood, California.
Stephen Garrett, who seemed forever youthful, delighted to wake every morning and fully embraced life in England and California. He was a bon vivant, a great lover of life, and travelled more globally in his 70s, 80s and 90s than in the previous six decades. He will be remembered for his generosity of spirit, sharp wit, and infectious laugh.
Son of Howard Garrett and Ida King-Harman, Stephen Garrett was married twice, to Peta Jones and Jean Mackintosh. He is survived by his four children, Carey Cowham, and Georgia, Rebecca and Jason Garrett, and his long-time partner who kept him young, Phyllis Nugent.