Gerald Kavanaugh passed peacefully into the arms of his Savior on March 1, 2014 while surrounded by his loving and blessed family.

Jerry was born on December 5, 1927 in Fargo to Johanna (Fridgen) and Joseph Kavanaugh. Jerry and his two brothers grew up on North Terrace during the time of the Great Depression. Jerry was a scholar, an altar boy, a fine all-around athlete and an Eagle Scout. After he graduated from Sacred Heart Academy in 1945, he attended the University of Notre Dame. During this time he enlisted in the Navy, and served honorably for two years aboard the U.S.S. Coral Sea. After completing his service, he resumed his studies at Notre Dame. He then attended and graduated from the UND School of Medicine, and completed his medical studies at Northwestern University, graduating in 1954. After starting his medical career in Internal Medicine, he later changed his specialty to Cardiology.

In June of 1954, Jerry married the love of his life, Donna Marie Erickson. They were blessed with four children: Ann, Kevin, Sheila and Peter. They resided in Rochester, MN for a time while Jerry was on the staff of the Mayo Clinic, and later returned to Fargo where they have lived since. He was a gentle physician who cared greatly for his patients. He retired in 1989 from what was then MeritCare Clinic.

Jerry’s passions included family time at Round Lake (a.k.a. “Tara Woods”) near Perham, MN, woodworking, reading, hunting, fishing and traveling. He enjoyed long walks with his golden retriever and savoring a cup of coffee with neighbors and friends.

Jerry was preceded in death by his parents, a brother Jim, and daughter, Ann.

Jerry is survived by his wife of 59 years, Donna; his children Kevin (Terri), Sheila, and Peter (Tracy), and two grandchildren Holly and Matt; his brother Joel Kavanaugh, his aunt Eleanor Fridgen, and many nieces, nephews and additional relatives.

The family would like to thank the wonderful caregivers of Hospice of the Red River Valley as well as the Comfort Keepers for their care of Jerry and Donna during this time.

Memorials can be made to Hospice of the Red River Valley, or the Presentation Sisters.

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  1. Clive IAIn 1980, Dr. Kavanaugh preformed open heart surgery on my Dad. Dad was very ill at the time with congestive heart failure. Thankfully he lived 32 years with his artificial valve thanks to Dr. K. He was always kind, caring and so patient with my Dad, Mom, and all 10 of us children. He touched so many lives.

    I just happened to see this obituary as a friend of ours in Fargo died and I went to the website.

  2. Cincinnati OHDearest Kavanaughs, I hope you have taken some time to share smiles, even laughs while you grieve. What a guy! Celebrate his life, as what a life it was! My thoughts are with you all…

  3. I would like to extend my condolences to Gerry’s family. My Father, Don Mickelson, and Gerry were co-captains of the Sacred Heart Football team back in the day. I am also a Physician at Sanford and was at Fargo Clinic and Meritcare where Dr. Kavanaugh practiced. He was a wonderful man and caring Physician. God bless you all for his loss.
    Warm Regards and Sympathy
    Dan M

  4. Rogers Minnesota
    My friendship with Jerry goes back decades. He was a unique human being, a man of many talents and a healer in countless ways. I feel honored to have shared small bits of his life.

    Tom Matchie

  5. Fargo ND
    Dear Donna, Sheila, Kevin, and Pete, I am sorry for your loss of Jerry. He was always kind to me when I visited your home, and I remember how Ann talked about her dad. She was proud of him, and proud to be his daughter. May you find comfort in your memories of Jerry, and in each other.

  6. Fargo ND
    Dear Donna, Sheila and family,
    My deepest sympathy for the loss of Jerry. I will always remember his gentle smile, warm hugs and encouraging words. May the faith you have in knowing he is with Jesus comfort and give you peace in the midst of sorrow. You are in my prayers.

  7. My heart is saddened with the passing of Dr. Kavanaugh and my thoughts go out to Donna, Pete, Sheila and Kevin. May God be with you and bless you with wonderful memories of the time spent with a wonderful man.
    It is an honor to be a part of your family

  8. Ottertail Minnesota
    We will walk the trails of “Tara Woods” and greet Jerry’s memory with happiness.

  9. Kevin, remember that your father’s memory will always be at your side, even when he is not.
    God Bless you and your family.
    Rob & Natalia Morse

  10. Phoenix AZ
    We were deeply saddened to learn of of Gerry’s passing and wish to extend condolences to Donna, Pete, Sheila and Kevin as well as the entire extended family. To me as a friend of Pete’s growing up, Gerry always had a warm smile and a soft-spoken manner that endeared him to us all. He was an outstanding doctor that cared deeply about his patients. He will be greatly missed.

  11. Fargo ND
    Dear Donna….I am so sorry to hear of Jerry’s death. He was such a kind, caring, gentle man, and will be greatly missed. My prayers to you at this sad time!

  12. Fargo ND
    Jerry was truely a great man and physician with a truely kind and caring soul.

    I will miss you great one.

  13. Wisconsin Rapids WIPete, Kevin, and Family:

    Breaks my heart to look at the photo of your dad in the obituary. One more towering oak that is lost to us. I like the photo though. It’s exactly how I knew and remember him– the kind, smiling fellow that he was. His demeanor toward me was much like my own dad’s.
    Out of all the good work he did for the Lord on planet earth, I am personally very grateful that he was part of my being able to discover Demontreville. I received special graces at my retreats which I believe led me to my wife and the sacrament of marriage.

  14. Minneapolis, MN
    Kevin and Family,

    What a wonderful picture of your Dad in both words and image. You can see his personality shine and the sparkle in his eyes. Thank you for sharing these brief stories of your father and his life. You must be very proud of him.

    I believe that the pain and loss is a reflection of the impact the person has on your life. I also believe that sharing stories and memories keep’s the person alive in our hearts.

    I want to extend my condolences to you and your family. May all the kind words sent or shared bring you and your family comfort at this time.

    Sincerely Susan Cera – U.S. Bank

  15. Plymouth MN
    Dear Kavanaugh Family,
    I was deeply moved upon hearing of the death of your loved one, and hasten to extend my deep sympathy in this, your hour of trial. While the priviledge of knowing Jerry never fell to my lot, I relize the extent of the loss you have sustained. At a time like this, mere words are empty and shallow, but yours is a suffering which is universal, which belongs to every human being in every corner of the world. A deep anguish which, sooner or later, cuts into every human heart. . . strong and weak. Death is the inevitable goal, and there may be some small degree of consolation in the thought that death is but a narrow starlit strip between the companionship of yesterday and the happy reunion of tomorrow. May this thought help you to carry on.
    Bob Weinzierl

  16. Fargo ND
    Donna and Family.
    It was a sad message to hear of
    Dr. Kavanaugh’s death, and I share with you my sympathy and prayers. Jerry was,indeed, a special friend of ours (Presentation Sisters) as he shared his gracious manner in such a loving way as to make one feel she was the most important person at the moment. He now knows that gentle love of the God he so loved in his earthly life. May the peace he enjoys be yours as you bid farewell to your loved one.

  17. Roseville MN
    Sheila and family,

    My condolences on the loss of your wonderful father. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    kathy peters

  18. I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. May God’s Presence envelope you in His comfort, strength and peace during this difficult time.

  19. Sheila, my thoughts are with you. Losing a parent is so hard and I pray you take comfort in the memories of your wonderful father.

  20. Fargo So sorry for your loss. Jerry took good care of my husband for several years and I also had a chance to work with him. It was a privilege to know such a kind and caring man.

  21. Eagan MN
    My sympathy to your family upon your loss. Jerry was indeed a gentle and loving man. As a friend of Kevin and Terri, I had the privilege of meeting Jerry a few times. One of those memories was the trip to Grand Marias in July 2008. Does “Betty’s Pies” ring a bell with you Kevin, Terri, and Matthew? It was one of those funny moments in life and a fond memory I have of Jerry. He lived a great life. May you have peace in knowing he now rests in heaven and has been reunited with his daughter Ann. My thoughts are with you.

  22. Fargo ND
    My deepest sympathy to all of you! Donna, it’s been years since we’ve seen each other, but I have fond memories of your volunteer work at St. Mary’s Cathedral School as well as the numerous presentations you & your sister gave at the Convent. You always glowed when you spoke of your husband….. Blessings to you!

  23. Fargo ND
    Donna, I was so saddened to hear of Jerry’s passing. I worked in the CCU for several years and he was such a caring physician. I also remember being at Upper Ten Mile Lake when you guys were there as well. A few years ago, my husband and I were in Hornbacher’s and visited with him and your daughter, Ann. I was so impressed that he remembered me after not seeing him for years. May God’s loving arms surround you during this time and in the difficult days ahead. My husband passed away a year ago and without God’s love I couldn’t have gotten through it. Take care.

  24. Fargo ND
    To Jerry’s family: we are so sorry for your loss. Jerry was truly a gentle caring person both in his medical profession and in his personal family life. He always greeted us with that Irish smile and shy demeanor. He will be missed but not forgotton by his many friends.

  25. We are so sorry for your loss. Dr. Kavanaugh was always to kind to my mom, Lil Stoelting, and to all he encountered.

  26. Our condolences. I am honored, however, to pass on a bit of trivia.
    Circa 1955, Dr. Kavanaugh received the “Dr. Will F. Lyon Annual Award,” named after my grandfather, in the grand sum of $300. The Award was given, as it stated, to “the intern at St. Luke’s Hospital (Chicago) who, in the performance of his appointed duties, best exemplifies the high devotion and dedicated service which have characterized Dr. Lyon’s professional career.”

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