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Jean Cavanaugh 1924-2019
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Jean Cavanaugh 1924-2019

Jean Cavanaugh was born June 27, 1924, to Orrin Ellsworth Van Horn and Golda Mae Howard at Lake City, Iowa, and then lived in the neighboring town of Lohrville, Iowa. She passed away on Feb. 21, 2019 at her home in Great Bend. 

During her school days in Lohrville, she played clarinet for six years in the band, orchestra and German Band. She was an avid speller and won the Calhoun County spelling contest in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades, and at the latter level she placed second in oral and third in written at the state contest. During her high school days, she was also active in Girl Scouts and worked on the school newspaper. She was the graduating class salutatorian. 

Following her high school graduation, she worked for the FBI for two years in Washington, D.C. and alphabetized cards, and was in the first fingerprinting reading class for women, and then became a shorthand transcriptionist for Clyde Jolson in the agent’s division. She also played in the Government Girl’s Band, and won a government employee’s spelling contest. She then attended the University of Minnesota and Grinnell College. 

After her husband, Dr. Clair J. Cavanaugh graduated from medical school, they were married at Iowa City, Iowa, in March 1947, and moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, and also lived in Honokaa, Hawaii, Oklahoma City, and Las Vegas, New Mexico before moving to Great Bend in 1952.  Clair passed away on Dec. 26, 1994. 

Jean was a member of the Prince of Peace Parish at St. Rose, Pilot Club, Etudion Club, Commission on Aging, Volunteers in Action, Senior Center Advisory Council, KOOD PBS, and a former member of Athenian, Northwest EHU, Cosmopolitan Club, Clara Barton Hospital Foundation, Clara Barton Hospital Board, GBHS Hall of Fame recipient, initial recipient of the Kansas State and Martin Luther King award for civil rights, and served on USD #428 school board and the community concert board for 32 years. She was a past governor of the Pilot Club, and past president of the former Kansas Medical Auxiliary, now called Medical Alliance. She served on the national AMA Auxiliary/Board for 7 years, and served as national chairman for it’s Education Research Fund for 4 years.  She has been involved in listening to Riley School children read to her for about 14 years, and is a supporter of the high school and area soccer teams, sponsoring several bus trips to Sporting K.C. events. 

Jean was an 11 year Girl Scout leader and also a Cub Scout den mother. She was a bloodmobile volunteer, and was a former Lohrville Savings Bank, Lohrville, Iowa bank director. She received honorary awards from the Chamber of Commerce and Barton College Foundation. In December 2013, she was the grand marshal for the Christmas parade. She was also crowned the Cinco de Mayo Queen in May 2014. She enjoyed substitute teaching for 16 years at Roosevelt and Harrison Junior Highs. A sample of Jean’s community support has been demonstrated through generosity for the Plaza De Cavanaugh room at the BCC Library and the Jean Cavanaugh Wellness Center at the Great Bend Recreation Center. She played bridge, was an avid reader, loved politics, and traveled to all the USA states and had many overseas trips. 

She is survived by four sons, Thomas Cavanaugh and his wife Linda of Canton, GA, Dr. Michael Cavanaugh and his wife Deysi of Pinecrest, FL, Dr. Terrance (Jones) Cavanaugh and his wife Cheryl of Pinetop, AZ and James Cavanaugh of Portland, OR; one daughter, Kathleen (Bitsy) Cavanaugh and her husband Ric Rapp of Kamuela, HI; a sister, Joan Linsley of Houston, TX; a brother, Bob Van Horn of Glidden, IA; seven grandchildren, Pamela Mohr, Karen Farley, Mickey Cavanaugh, Megan Cavanaugh, Dr. Courtney Cavanaugh Sagar, Cole Cavanaugh and Trey Cavanaugh; and three great-grandchildren, Collin Farley, Gavin Farley and Hannah Mohr. She was preceded in death by her parents and her husband, Dr. Clair J. Cavanaugh. 

Visitation will be held from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019 and 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday, Feb. 25, all at Bryant Funeral Home. An Altar Society Rosary will be held at 4:00 p.m. and Vigil Service at 7:00 p.m. Monday. Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019, at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Great Bend, with Father Don Bedore presiding.  Interment will be in the Great Bend Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to the Clara Barton Hospital Foundation or the Cavanaugh Scholarships at Barton Community College Foundation, in care of Bryant Funeral Home. Condolences may be sent and notice viewed at

Funeral arrangements provided by

Bryant Funeral Home

1425 Patton Road

Great Bend, Kansas 67530