Dairy icon, Jim Cavanaugh, passes away

Hoard's Dairyman: 

Dairy icon, Jim Cavanaugh, passes away

Date: 
Tue, 04/06/2010

Jim CavanaughOne of the most successful leaders of the purebred dairy cattle industry passed away April 6 just eight days shy of his 93rd birthday. James F. Cavanaugh joined the American Jersey Cattle Association in 1947 and went on to become the longest-serving executive secretary in Association history, heading the organization from 1956 to 1985. Under his leadership, Cavanaugh helped guide the 1953 purchase of the Jersey Journal, the 1957 formation of National All-Jersey, the 1967 creation of the AJCC Research Foundation, and the 1971 addition of the Jersey Marketing Service. Truly a pioneer, Cavanaugh pioneered the adoption of the USDA sire summary for recognition of bulls and was a vigorous campaigner against using minus bulls. Additionally, he was a vocal supporter of the multiple component pricing movement. There is no doubt that today's popularity of Jerseys can be traced directly to Jim Cavanaugh.

Born and raised on a Kansas farm, he graduated from Kansas State University. In 1939, he was selected by the Borden Company to work at the company's exhibit at the 1939 New York World's Fair where he cared for the famous "Elsie" the Borden cow. Cavanaugh is shown in the photo during a 2007 reunion of the Borden Boys in New York. During World War II, he flew 50 missions as a bomber pilot. Cavanaugh joined the Hoard's Dairyman editorial staff prior to entering military service and remained on the staff until 1947 when he joined the national Jersey association as assistant secretary. And it was Jim Cavanaugh who encouraged Eugene C. Meyer to join the Hoard's Dairyman editorial team when he left the Hoard's staff for his new position at Jersey.

Soon after Cavanaugh's retirement from the American Jersey Cattle Association, Cavanaugh was persuaded to accept an 18-month appointment as secretary-treasurer of the American Guernsey Association on January 1, 1986. Then Cavanaugh was named acting secretary of National DHIA in April 1987 and stayed on until March 1, 1988.

Cavanaugh served as President of National Dairy Shrine in 1962. In 1975, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the American Dairy Science Association, and, in 1977, was World Dairy Expo Industry Person of the Year. The very next year he was honored as the National Dairy Shrine Guest of Honor.

His wife, Virginia, preceded Jim in death. Visitation is at the Egan-Ryan East Chapel at 4019 East Livingston in Columbus, Ohio, on April 8, from 2 to 4 p.m., and from 6 to 8 p.m. The funeral will take place at St. Catharine Catholic Church on 500 South Gould Road in Columbus at 10 a.m., Friday April 9. At the request of the family, in lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to The J.F. Cavanaugh Fund of the AJCA Research Foundation, 6486 East Main Street, Reynoldsburg, Ohio, 43068-2362.

Click to visit the American Jersey Cattle Association website