Garen had a deep love of his Catholic faith, a spirit of generosity and an appreciation of civic duty that guided his actions throughout his life.
Just two years out of high school and with the world at war, Garen joined the US Marine Corps and served with an assault demolition team belonging to the 2nd Marine Division in the South Pacific until the end of the war. He was honorably discharged in 1945 after earning two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star with Valor.
After leaving the service, Garen worked as a construction foreman for Hunkin-Conkey Construction Company before being transferred to Cleveland as steel superintendent, overseeing all of its Cleveland work. Garen supervised jobs throughout Ohio and western Pennsylvania that involved structural steel erection, the placement of reinforcing steel for concrete, machinery setting, millwright work and heavy rigging. With each job, his knowledge deepened and his experience grew.
At age 36, he founded Kelley Steel Erectors, Inc., in Oakwood Village, on Cleveland’s southeast side. His first job erecting steel was for a new McDonald’s restaurant.