James "Phil" Philip Kavanagh

November 25, 1953 ~ October 25, 2023 (age 69) 69 Years Old

James "Phil" Kavanagh Obituary

Dr. James Philip (Phil) Kavanagh, 69, of Appleton, WI, passed away peacefully in his home on October 25, 2023, of cancer.

Phil was born on November 25, 1953 to Brendan and Máire (Curran) Kavanagh in Swords, Ireland. He graduated from University College Dublin and went on to teach at Maynooth University, before coming to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to complete his PhD in Mathematics. Phil was a member of the mathematics faculty of the University of Connecticut, Illinois Wesleyan University, and lastly Colorado Mesa University until his retirement and move to Appleton.

Phil cared deeply about teaching and spent many hours of his time mentoring his students, several of whom became friends he stayed in touch with over the years. He particularly enjoyed working with students on the Space Project class at Colorado Mesa and encouraged them to stretch their abilities by learning new skills and expanding their vision of what they could achieve. One of the fondest memories of his educational career was of cooking and hosting a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner for his foreign students at Illinois Wesleyan.

In 1980, Phil was introduced to his future wife Joyce (Patton), by her brother Mike in Madison, WI, and they married in 1985. Phil and Joyce had no children, but do have nieces and nephews in the U.S. and Ireland.

Phil and his wife were avid birdwatchers who enjoyed hiking in the woods and canyons around their homes in Illinois and Colorado with their beloved dogs Clio, Freddy & Toby. Some of Phil’s greatest pleasures were the lively conversations he had with his colleagues at Illinois Wesleyan and Colorado Mesa universities, and cooking memorable gourmet meals for his extended family in Appleton. Phil was a loyal friend who would do everything in his power to help his friends throughout his life.

Phil was pre-deceased by his parents Brendan and Máire (Curran), He is sadly missed by his wife Joyce, his brothers John and Francis, sisters-in-law Barbara, Frances and Susan, brothers-in-law Mike and Ward, their families, and his extended family in Ireland.

In accordance with Phil’s wishes, no formal services will be held. In lieu of flowers, he requested donations be made to St. Joseph Food Program Inc. 1465A Opportunity Way, Menasha, WI 54952, or Grand Valley Catholic Outreach, 245S. First St., Grand Junction, CO 81501. Friends who wish to send cards or letters of condolence may send them c/o Valley Funeral Home.

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St. Joseph Food Program Inc.
Menasha WI 54952

Grand Valley Catholic Outreach
Grand Junction CO


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