For wife shut out by husband with dementia, ‘a horror story’

Bunny Garst (center) and her sister-in-law
Mary Sheppard (left)

If there’s such a thing as a typical marriage, Bunny and Claflin Garst’s has never been one.

When they were introduced 42 years ago at a Bradenton real estate closing, they didn’t think all that much of each other. She had just moved from New York, and wondered what kind of grown man would wear a short-sleeve shirt and a tie. He, in turn, was leery of the female broker in her citified business suit.
But the next time they met, she had on a bikini. β€œHe liked that a lot better,” she recalls.
The longtime Manatee County judge, son of a prominent ranching family, and the divorcee with two children kept company for 11 years before tying the knot. Yet even as a married couple, they didn’t always sleep under the same roof; she preferred her comfortable beach house to his spartan buffalo ranch.
But Bunny Garst, now 80, says she cooked, cleaned and cared for her husband through almost 30 years of marriage. She expected to keep doing so when his progressive dementia got out of hand in 2010.
Instead, she maintains, in the space of a morning quarrel he turned against her, refusing afterward to let her help him or even speak to him.
Today, after a bruising legal fight, the state of Florida controls Claflin Garst’s fate. He has a personal lawyer and a professional guardian, who also has a lawyer β€” each earning fees that come out of his assets. Those assets also paid legal costs for two people who competed for the right to take care of him.

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For wife shut out by husband with dementia, ‘a horror story’


4 Responses to “For wife shut out by husband with dementia, ‘a horror story’”

  1. Thelma Says:

    It's the family battles that cause the bad guardianships.

  2. Donnie Says:

    A nightmare for sure. I pray for her continued strength.

  3. Barbara Says:

    It's hard enough to fight the bad guys, without this. I'm so sorry!

  4. Sue Says:

    I would wager this couple never thought their so called GOLDEN YEARS would turn into a disaster unfortunately with no end in sight. I imagine this story could apply to other couples. Aging and other reasons (could be side affects from medications) appears to have caused personality changes.

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