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Jean (O'Neill) Kavanagh, of Wakefield, MA, known to many families as "Jean Marie," passed away in her home at the age of 78. Born and raised in Watertown, MA, the beloved daughter of the late Daniel and Jean (Montague) O'Neil. She was predeceased by her beloved husband of 35 years, C. Ronald Kavanagh, her eldest son, Patrick Kavanagh, her sisters, Catherine "Kitty" and Ann Marion O'Neil, as well as her brother Daniel O'Neil.
In 1961 Jean graduated from Rosary Academy in Watertown alongside a close group of girls she would remain close friends with for the next 60 years. She attended Waltham Hospital School of Nursing and graduated with her LPN in 1968. She devoted many years to the care and nursing of senior members of our communities through her work at the Dexter House in Malden, Normady House in Melrose, and Sunrise Living in Lynnfield. She brought light and a stiff cup of coffee into many lives through her work as a nurse.
Jean married her sweetheart "Ronnie" in 1969. Ron and Jean really knew how to throw a party and were always entertaining and traveling with friends and family. Each year they would break the previous year's record of how many pounds of corned beef, potatoes and cabbage they would cook and serve for St. Patrick's Day celebrations. Cookouts and holidays starring Jean Marie's famous meatballs were a regular draw and summers down the Cape remained a highlight for the family each year.
Those who knew Jean could count on a captivating story, a playfully delivered joke, a strong cup of coffee, or a tale from long ago that might have been forgotten until Jean's long memory pulled it back again into existence. She lived life on her own terms and was never one to stand idly around when she could be gardening, painting, wallpapering, cooking, visiting, or sharing a meal with friends and family. She took great pleasure in old movies, musicals, and a well-woven mystery. Often the unofficial photographer for family and friends, she operated the home movie camera boldly from which she created hours of footage that she gifted to others.
She is survived by her dear sisters Patricia Landers of Framingham and Genevieve Cross of Tewksbury, her brother, Gerald O'Neil, and his wife Mary of Woburn, and her sister-in-law Sr. Madeline Kavanagh formerly of Charlestown. She leaves behind her daughter, Colleen Getty, and her husband George of Wakefield, MA as well as her son, Ryan Kavanagh, and his wife Nicola of Salem, MA. Nana Bean (as her grandchildren affectionately referred to her) will be sorely missed by her three loving granddaughters Alice, Clara and Madeline and her cherished grandson Charles. Jean leaves behind several beloved nieces, nephews, and cousins from Boston to Alberta, Canada. She will be dearly missed by her high school girlfriends from Rosary Academy as well as long-time friends and neighbors on Friend Street.
Her Funeral Mass will be celebrated in St. Joseph Church, 173 Albion St., Wakefield on Tuesday at 10am followed by an interment at Forest Glade Cemetery in Wakefield. Visitation for relatives and friends will be held at the McDonald Funeral Home, 19 Yale Ave., Wakefield on Monday from 4-7pm.
If you would like to honor our mother-bring a meal to someone in need and think of something humorous to say that will make them smile during your visit. Those who knew our mother knew a woman who took time out to bring joy and food into the lives of those who needed it most. She was a one-woman meals-on-wheels and for that reason we ask that in lieu of flowers you direct any gifts in Jean's memory to the Mystic Valley Elder Services (Meals on Wheels), 300 Commercial Street #19, Malden MA 02148 or www.mves.org.
Monday, February 07
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
McDonald Funeral Home
19 Yale Ave
Wakefield, MA 01880
Tuesday, February 08
St. Joseph Church
173 Albion St.
Wakefield, MA 01880
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