, Salem, MA

Local News

December 17, 2012

Salem obstetrician loved family, learning, life

SALEM — Matt Kavanagh says his father, Arthur, took his work seriously, but didn’t take himself seriously.

Dr. Arthur Kavanagh Jr., a Salem obstetrician and gynecologic surgeon, died Dec. 8 at the age of 84.

Kavanagh’s family remembers him for his sense of humor and his enthusiasm for everything from his professional career to his grandchildren’s birthday parties to coaching his son’s youth hockey team.

Although Kavanagh could hardly skate himself, he would flood the family’s Chestnut Street backyard in the winter to create an ice rink and run hockey drills, Matt remembered.

“He did not take himself seriously,” Matt said. “He knew how to have fun.”

Kavanagh had an OB/GYN practice at 86 Highland Ave. and delivered more than 4,000 babies at Salem Hospital before retiring in 1995.

He treated all his patients the same — whether they could pay or not — and took the time to make sure each patient fully understood her diagnosis, said his wife, Theresa.

His many patients will remember his penchant for wearing bowties.

A lifelong academic, Kavanagh had a love of learning. He read extensively and even had a collection of books on improving his golf swing.

“He wanted to learn everything,” Theresa said.

He was the type of person who threw himself into everything, his family remembered as they gathered in Salem last week for the funeral.

Arthur and Theresa Kavanagh have five children, Ellen, Timothy, Anne, Matthew and Daniel, and nine grandchildren.

He loved music, dancing, singing, playing golf and badminton with friends.

His children smiled as they remembered their father’s knack for taking interest in “ill-advised activities,” from skiing to leading a group of Chestnut Street neighbors hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

A family boating trip ended with their powerboat taking on water after hitting a rock in Salem Harbor.

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