Dr. Thomas Kavanaugh

June 1, 1933 - September 17, 2013
Kalamazoo, MI



Friday, September 20, 2013
4:00 PM to 8:00 PM EDT
Life Story Funeral Homes - Betzler
Kalamazoo Location
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 375-2900

An "Irish Wake" will be celebrated followed by a 7:30 PM Rosary and time to share memories.

Driving Directions


Saturday, September 21, 2013
10:30 AM EDT
St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church
1150 West Centre Avenue
Portage, MI 49024
(269) 327-5165


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

Sisters of St. Joseph
P.O. Box 29
Nazareth, MI 49074
(269) 381-6290
Web Site

St. Vincent de Paul Society
1150 West Centre Avenue
Portage, MI 49024
(269) 327-5165

At St. Catherine of Siena

Web Site

6955 West "KL" Avenue
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 344-1474
Web Site


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

1830 S. Westnedge
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
(269) 349-4961
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


A man of honor, integrity, and strong moral character, Dr. Thomas Kavanaugh was a blessing to the world around him. He was a gentle man of quiet wit...especially noticed on April Fools Day each year.

A loving husband and devoted father, Tom treasured his family that grew to include the grandchildren and great-grandchildren who he so enjoyed spending time with and taking on outings. It was his nature to think of others ahead of himself in ways both great and small. Although he will be deeply missed, Tom will never be forgotten.

Regardless of the bleak economic times, Frank and Hazel (Wendell) Kavanaugh welcomed the birth of their son on June 1, 1933. Thomas Edward was sixth of seven boys. He was raised in the family home on Oakland Drive at Maple Street along with his brothers, Frank, Robert, John, James, Philip and Daniel and the family dog Sandy. His father founded Kavanaugh Insurance Agency while his mother focused her attention at home. Sandy's job was to keep track of his beloved boys . He could be seen daily following the school bus to St. Augustine and then waiting patiently all day to follow his boys home again in the afternoon.

Tom’s parents set high expectations and to say that the Kavanaugh brothers were competitive with one another is a great understatement. The Kavanaugh's were well known in the community as star athletes. Tom lettered in both football and basketball. There was often a pick up game in the Kavanaugh driveway.

The Kavanaugh family enjoyed summers spent at the family cottage on Gull Lake. Of course, Tom was also known to get into his fair share of mischief with his brothers and friends. He might tell you about a strange fire in an abandoned barn that maybe sorta was related to them and scared the liver out of them at the same time.

After graduating from high school in 1951, Tom completed his undergraduate and medical degrees at Marquette University School of Medicine in Milwaukee in 1958. He completed his internship at Mount Carmel Detroit and residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Lewis Memorial Maternity Hospital in Chicago in 1961.

During his years of study, the handsome Tom also found time for an active social life. His introduction to Jean Toohey would turn out to be very fruitful . After dating for a time they were married on May 24, 1958. Together they were blessed with 5 children: Mike, Jamie , Anne, Dan and Paul. They enjoyed many happy years together with their family. They divorced in 1980.

In 1962 he returned to Kalamazoo where he joined the medical practice of his brother, Dr. John Kavanaugh at Borgess Hospital. In 1971 Tom formed his own practice with Dr. Gary Novak. George Bruzza joined them in 1976. The practice grew and thrived over the next three decades. The Kavanaugh group took a leading role in advancing OB GYN services in the area. In 2002 the practice of Kavanaugh Novak and Bruzza joined Borgess Women’s Health. Tom delivered over 10,000 babies throughout his 50 year career. Tom was recognized for his outstanding accomplishments including an award from Michigan State University for his excellence in teaching. He was also honored by the Borgess Nursing community in his receipt of the Legacy Award.

New and exciting changes were in store for Tom when he began dating Susan whom he had known professionally for many years. It was a marvelous transition from colleague to life partner and soul-mate. They were married on May 23, 1987, on the bridge in Parkview Hills, the ceremony that was officiated by Tom's brother, James. Tom and Susan, who were both raised Catholic recommitted and became very active members of St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Portage.

Although his career was very important to Tom, his greatest joy was found in being with his loved ones. He enjoyed supporting Susan in wherever her artwork and fancy took her. There were several golf outings with his sons, Notre Dame football games with his brother, Dan, breathtaking sunsets watched from their cottage on Lake Michigan, and power boat rides on The Big Blue lake. Together Tom and Susan traveled extensively both domestically and abroad. Some of their favorite destinations included Italy, France, Ireland, and the Cayman Islands.

When grandchildren arrived, Tom couldn’t have been happier. He was forever doing little things that showed his grandchildren how much he loved them. Some of the best memories that Tom made with his grandchildren were on dune rides on the shores of Lake Michigan and at the Kalamazoo Air Zoo.

Tom never really cared for cats but Susan changed all that. Over the years Tom was an active parent of 11 cats. He was preceded in death by Ernie, Margaret, Duncan, Leonard, Mary Elizabeth, John Doe, Buddy, Tina, Babe. Survived by their three cats, Ron, Trixie, and Agnes, The felines are core family members and have provided Tom with great companionship and consternation.

In addition to being with his family, Tom enjoyed his time away from work pursuing some of his other interests. He enjoyed reading, primarily fiction of the murder and mayhem kind. Tom also read newspapers daily from cover to cover including The Kalamazoo Gazette, New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. You could determine his level of happiness based on the size of the stack of newspapers on his lap.

Described as kind, gentle, and compassionate, Dr. Thomas Kavanaugh touched the lives of countless others in such a special way. Whether to his family, his friends, or his patients, he freely gave of himself while expecting nothing in return. Dr. Kavanaugh was successful in his career and a great teacher both in his profession and in life. He will be dearly missed and warmly remembered.

Dr. Thomas E. Kavanaugh, M.D. died at Rose Arbor Hospice on September 17, 2013. Tom’s family includes his wife, Susan Kavanaugh; 5 children: Mike (Jean) Kavanaugh, Jamie Kavanaugh, Anne Kavanaugh, Dan Kavanaugh (Terri Camfield), and Paul Kavanaugh (Nori Coley); mother of his children, Jean Conlisk; 6 grandchildren: Brad Kavanaugh, Chris (Brittany) Kavanaugh, Kate Kavanaugh, Matt Kavanaugh, Anjye Camfield and Devan Flexas; 5 great-grandchildren; brother, Phil; special feline friends: “Ron,” “Trixie,” and “Agnes;” and many nieces and nephews. Tom was preceded in death by 5 brothers: Frank, Robert, John, James and Daniel Kavanaugh and Jamie's wife Kim(Taylor)Kavanaugh.He is survived by Phil Kavanaugh, the last of the 7 Kavanaugh Boys of Kalamazoo. Visit with his family and friends during an “Irish Wake” on Friday from 4:00 – 8:00 PM at the Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler-Kalamazoo, 6080 Stadium Drive; 375-2900; at 7:30 PM a rosary will be recited followed by a time of story sharing. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Saturday 10:30 AM St. Catherine of Siena Church, Fr. Kevin Covert Celebrant. A luncheon will follow in the church hall. Please visit Tom’s personal web page at www.lifestorynet.com, where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to Sister's of St. Joseph, St. Vincent DePaul at St. Catherine of Siena or SPCA of Southwest Michigan.