Thomas Cavanagh
Thomas Cavanagh

Obituary of Thomas Kenneth Cavanagh

With profound sadness we announce the passing of Tom K. Cavanagh, peacefully at his residence in Brockville, Ontario. He was in his 88th year. Born in Kingston, Ontario in 1933, he lived a full and adventurous life. He was a devoted husband to Rosemary; loving father to James, Thomas (Maureen), Catherine (Brian), Jennifer (David), and Laura (Bernard); caring grandfather to Deborah (Chloe), Luke, Alice, Tommy, James, Katie, Chloé, Jacob, and Amaya; and beloved brother to Joan Sherwood. He is preceded in death by his parents, Alice and Thomas, his dear brother John, and his granddaughter Emma. Tom embraced life fully. A born adventurer, he travelled the world and lived in many far-flung and exotic places, including England, Ghana, Malawi, Bolivia, Sri Lanka, Colombia, and the Ukraine. He worked in international development and education, with most of his professional career spent as a professor and Academic Dean at Champlain College in Lennoxville, Quebec. Colleagues and students recall him fondly as passionate about his work and generous with his time and spirit. A joyful soul, Tom loved music and the arts. He was a true seeker and lifelong learner; up until the very end of his life he continued to work on playing his guitar and improving his French. He cared deeply about social justice and world news, and his written reflections on current events, his life, and his wide variety of interests were published for years in his local paper, the Sherbrooke Record. Most of all, Tom cared about his family. The values he instilled in his children have served them well and the love he showed his wife of 59 years will forever be an inspiration. He will be remembered with love by all who knew him, and forever missed by his family. "Cup Comes Home" Our dad passed away a day ago. 87. I expect he fulfilled one of the best mandates a lad can, punching boxes to a life-well-lived left and right, in that he brought joy to those he encountered, married up, asked questions, taught well, behaved well, sang, laughed, and sang some more; was a right curious sonovagun, was interested and interesting; consumed the canon of humanity's great writers, and thought about what he'd read, notes in the margins, passages underlined, quotes scrawled in a notebook. Paper everywhere, always. He put an ice rink in his backyard for his 5 kids - and the neighborhood- to play on, and on crystal clear winter nights would water the ice by the light of a single bulb as the tree branches cracked like gunshots overhead from the cold. He sought advice, wrote, agonized over wording and phrasing, and traveled, traveled, traveled, living in country after country and often in the poorer parts, so he could help. He had time for others always, loved his time with others (always), was considerate of those less fortunate than he, and acted upon it. Was a boxer. Believed. Was hard on himself. Said "A job worth doing is worth doing well". Dean of a college he chucked the job a few years before the pension kicked in so he could get back to Africa and help some more, satiate the wanderlust that called him (always), and continue checking the boxes; once said "rip yer effin' arm off yer shoulders, stuff it down yer throat" ; hung at the coffee shop; hung at the casse-croute; taught himself French and flat out adored passing the time ( "passe le temps!") avec les Quebecois; was l'hiver, absolutely taken with those Quebec winters - to those who chose to winter in Florida: "No thanks-they can have it!". The man did not mind a late night snack, mixed with catholic guilt; called his wife "Rose"; called the rest of us "Dearhearts";could have but did not worry about money; was road trip graded, and a hot dancer; in his youth, a ladies man who ran with a tough crowd, golden-hearted beneath the leather; ran marathons and kinda hated it. Drank coffee and wine and leaned in to get the story. Delighted with the story. Knew what he had. Assured me that he could make the NBA in 6 short months by simply devoting time and effort in perfecting his shot as he "stepped over half court", waving aside my queries about defense ("wouldn't matter"); taught himself guitar in his sixties and played the local joints; played 'The Farmer' in "Oklahoma"; said "quit faffing around", the only person to ever do so; smoked/quit ; would disappear to the bookshop; had perspective; took stands, and a shot of teargas in exchange for justice: inspired his kids; was inspired by his kids (James, Thomas, Cathy, Jenny, Laura, and their kids too, whom he also called Dearhearts). Called me 'Toma', the only person to ever do so; said "horseshit", "hot enough for ya?" "all is right in the world" and "count your blessings”, and signed off with "lotsa love"; he was grateful for the ride and evinced brilliance throughout, leaving the world a much grander place than when he entered. And he cheered, like no one I've ever known, for the Habs, the Canadiens de Montreal. He understood that hockey's greatest prize, the Stanley Cup, belonged at home. Don't we all. Allez, mon vieux, allez. In compliance with current Health and Public Safety Directives, a public Celebration of Tom’s Life will be held at a later date. In memory of Tom, donations to the Alzheimer’s Society of Ontario or to the student services fund at Champlain Regional College of Lennoxville. would be gratefully appreciated by her family. Arrangements entrusted to Barclay Funeral Home, 137 Pearl Street East Brockville. Messages of condolences may be made online at www.barclayfuneralhome.com.
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