Salem — Arthur J. Kavanagh, Jr., MD, age 84, loving husband for 62 years of Theresa (Murphy) Kavanagh, a longtime resident of Salem, died at home on Saturday, December 8, 2012, surrounded by his family. He was an Obstetrician and Gynecologic Surgeon, born in Peabody, MA, on October 19, 1928, the son of the late Arthur and Margaret (Gallagher) Kavanagh Sr. He grew up in Salem and following his graduation from St. John’s Prep, Class of 1945, he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Boston College in 1949. Dr. Kavanagh received his Masters in Science in Bacteriology at the University of Massachusetts followed by a Masters of Public Health in Health Education from the Harvard School of Public Health. He then went to the Boston University Medical School, graduating in 1957.
He joined the United States Navy, interned at Chelsea Naval Hospital and served two years at the Public Health Service in Norfolk, VA. He completed his residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Kavanagh had practiced as an OB/GYN physician at Salem Hospital, J.B Thomas Hospital (Peabody), Lynn Hospital and the Mary A. Alley Hospital in Marblehead. Dr. Kavanagh was a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and was a clinical instructor at Tufts University School of Medicine.
Dr. Kavanagh had a lifelong curiosity about general health, constantly researching cause and effect. His publications included, “A Scuba Syndrome,” in 1963 which examined respiratory illness among members of the United States Navy swimming and dive team. It was determined the illness was caused by inhalation of the pseudomonas species of bacteria from contaminated air hoses. The study led to the prevention of the illness and changes in USN regulations on the care of scuba gear. Another article addressed the presence of talc in operating room gloves, co-authored with Keith Griffin, head of the Tenovus Cancer Institute, Cardiff, Wales and William J. Henderson, Senior Electron Microscopist at the same institute. A detailed report was made to the FDA which ultimately led to the prevention of the use of talc, a contaminant, in surgical gloves in 1972.