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Barbara J. (Garrison) Cavanaugh

June 2, 2019

Barbara Jean (Garrison) Cavanaugh died peacefully on June 2, 2019.

Bobbie was born at home in Terre Haute, Indiana, on July 6, 1927; her birth was recorded the next day, making July 7 her second birthday, which became a fun family fact. She was a 1945 graduate from Wiley High School (Terre Haute), and she attended Indiana State Teachers College (now Indiana State University). She met the love of her life, John T. (“Jack”) Cavanaugh in high school, marrying the by-then WWII veteran in 1948. Bobbie deeply loved her sons John and Kevin, and her grandsons Peter and Jack, who will vociferously attest that she was a truly devoted and supportive mother and grandmother. Bobbie, Jack, John, and Kevin moved to Wilmington in 1957 after Jack was transferred there by DuPont. Bobbie was a force throughout her life, a woman of deep faith who had considerable intellect and a razor sharp mind. She consistently showed courage that reflected her strong convictions regarding social justice, her life-long passion and basis for her community engagement. For instance, she helped change the venue of her senior prom from a segregated hotel to one that permitted her African American classmates to attend, and she helped organize and participated in programs that fostered reading skills in young children from all backgrounds. Her support of reading led to her co-leading volunteer efforts in the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington in the 1960s (she worked mainly at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception School), as well as helping to form Read Aloud Delaware. She was a long-serving board member at West End Neighborhood House.

Bobbie’s social justice passion also led to her work with the Delaware Democratic Party in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when she met and supported a young County Commissioner named Joe Biden. Her pie and cake-baking skills were legendary; she had a devoted following among parishioners at St. John the Beloved, where she was a member since 1959, who snapped them up at each opportunity. She was an avid contract bridge player, and greatly enjoyed playing with groups of friends over decades. She was a truly avid fan of the Notre Dame “Fighting Irish,” who often earned a “hot damn” for a big win. Bobbie was a highly accomplished pianist and pipe organist, playing at churches in Terre Haute, and continued enjoying many forms of music throughout her life. Bobbie was preceded in death by her beloved Jack. She is survived by two sons, John (Christine) and Kevin (Beth Gallis), and two grandsons, Peter and John T. (“Jack”) II.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. John the Beloved Parish 907 Milltown Rd., on Monday, June 10, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. Burial will be at All Saints Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations in memory of Bobbie to the West End Neighborhood House, 710 North Lincoln Street, Wilmington, DE 19805. 

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