On October 5, the League of Women Voters of Plainfield lost a great member with the passing of long-time League Secretary Pat Turner Kavanaugh. Our deepest sympathy goes out to her family, her friends, and her extended family of Plainfielders. We will greatly miss her wit, her wisdom, and her outstanding service to the city of Plainfield. Below is the obituary prepared by her family.
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
A Memorial Service will be held on Sunday, Oct. 12, for Patricia Turner Kavanaugh, 69, of Plainfield, who died at home on Oct. 4. Born in Brooklyn, Mrs. Kavanaugh lived most of her life in Plainfield. She graduated from the Hartridge School (now The Wardlaw-Hartridge School in Edison) and Vassar College, where she earned a degree in English and Political Science. Mrs. Kavanaugh worked at the BBC in London and NBC in New York before embarking on an extensive journalism career for several New Jersey newspapers, including The Courier-News, News Tribune (now Home News Tribune) and, most notably, The Star-Ledger of Newark, where she worked for more than two decades. Mrs. Kavanaugh also served as Public Information Officer for the City of Plainfield under Mayor Rick Taylor.
Friends recall Mrs. Kavanaugh as a “tenacious advocate” for her beloved Plainfield, fiercely fighting for many causes in the Queen City and working tirelessly on behalf of its citizens. She served as President of The Friends of Sleepy Hollow and Chairwoman of the Plainfield Area YMCA, where she served on the Board of Directors for 35 years. She was active in the Plainfield League of Women Voters, the City of Plainfield Historic Preservation Committee and the Friends of the Plainfield Public Library. Mrs. Kavanaugh was a devoted supporter of The Wardlaw-Hartridge School, serving on the Board of Trustees from 1972-1994. She was elected an Emeritus Trustee and also an active member of the Alumni Association for more than 40 years. In addition, Mrs. Kavanaugh helped organize many reunions, including a milestone 50th anniversary celebration in September 2013. She was also a member of the school’s Heritage Society. “Pat Kavanaugh was a proud and loyal alumna of Wardlaw-Hartridge,” said Rudy Brandl, the school’s director of communications and alumni relations. “She had a real passion for Wardlaw-Hartridge. Our entire school community will miss her greatly.” Mrs. Kavanaugh loved traveling and was a certified master gardener. She covered skiing for more than 30 years, including the 1994 Olympic Winter Games in Norway, and served with distinction as past president of the Eastern Ski Writers Association and former first vice-president of what is now the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.
She is survived by two nephews, Christopher Thomas Newcomb of New Brunswick and Peter VanNest Newcomb of Plainfield. Mrs. Kavanaugh was predeceased by her husband, Reginald, also a retired newspaper reporter, who died in 1999, and her sister, Nancy Turner Newcomb, who passed away in 1987.
Visitation will take place from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 12, at the Higgins Home For Funerals, 209 West Eighth Street, Plainfield. The Memorial Service will take place at 4 p.m. on Sunday. In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests that friends consider a gift to the Plainfield Public Library's Children's Room and The Wardlaw-Hartridge School.