Former Conrad resident Jerry Stark Kavanagh, 82, died March 13 in Vancouver, Wash., following a battle with cancer.
Services were held March 17 at the Presbyterian Church in Vancouver.
He was born Jan. 22, 1931, in Havre, coincidentally on the same date that his grandfather, John F. Kavanagh, announced that he was selling the Hill County Journal, which he had purchased in 1929. Jerry’s father, Chet, worked at the Journal and after the sale he moved to Shelby when his dad resumed publication of The Shelby Promoter.
Jerry attended Shelby schools and graduated from Shelby High School in 1949. He began learning the printing trade at an early age when he worked for his dad at the Promoter after school and during the summer, later becoming a master printer as well as a self-taught, accomplished writer.
Following a four-year stint in the Navy, he returned to Shelby, worked at the Promoter until the spring of 1955 when his dad bought The Independent-Observer in Conrad. He and Margaret Harris were married at the Presbyterian Church in Conrad on Nov. 11, 1956, and lived in Conrad for the next 13 years where Jerry was the editor of the newspaper until his dad sold the publication to Jack Lee.
After the sale, Jerry bought the Hi-Line Herald in Havre, one of the few offset newspapers in Montana at the time. He later worked in Cut Bank and then at the commercial printing department of the Great Falls Tribune where he developed into a good photographer and layout artist. He also started an advertising agency and then retired to Vancouver where he met and married his second wife, Mary Ellen.
Jerry was an extremely passionate man full of life, adventure and energy. His mind stayed active until his last breath and his fun-loving spirit shined through even as he faced his illness. He loved to sing and was a member of the choir at the Presbyterian Church in Vancouver. Canoeing was his solace in life. He was also a tennis player, hiker, skier, hunter, traveler and had a passion for sailing.
He touched the lives of everyone he met and deeply cared about the world’s people that others often forget. He volunteered for homeless shelters and wrote articles and books that worked to inspire people to work toward a better life. He called his work A+ Life.
Jerry is survived by his wife, Mary Ellen; three children, Mark of Bend, Ore.; Kent of Ladysmith, Wis., and Jane Ratzlaff of Columbia Falls; his sister, Karen Keil of Conrad; cousins, Jim Johnson of Spokane, Wash., Margaret Thompson of Missoula and John F. Kavanagh of Whitefish; three step-children and 10 grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Chet and Marjorie Kavanagh.
Donations in Jerry’s memory can be made to the Glacier National Park Conservancy, P.O. Box 2749, Columbia Falls, 59912.