Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Kevin Patrick Kavanagh (1932-2020)

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Kevin Patrick Kavanagh
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Born at Brandon on 27 September 1932, son of Martin Kavanagh and Katherine Power (1897-1954), he joined the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve in 1939 and was involved in sails to Alaska and Hawaii. After graduating from the University of Manitoba with a degree in Commerce (1953), he began working for the Great West Life Assurance Company, rising to becoming President and Chief Executive Officer (1979-1990). He was a member of its Board of Directors until 2009, and also on the Boards for the Conference of Board of Canada, National Leasing Group, and Manitoba Business Council.

In 1963, he married Elisabeth Maria “Els” Mesman (?-2021) and they had two children. He served as the Chancellor of Brandon University (1996-2002) and on the boards of the Banff Centre for Arts and Royal Winnipeg Ballet. In recognition of his community service, he was inducted into the Order of Canada (2002) and Order of Manitoba (2009), and he received the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal (2002), Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012), and an honorary doctorate from the University of Manitoba (1990).

He died on 14 June 2020.


Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 20 June 2020.

Obituary [Elisabeth Maria Kavanagh], Winnipeg Free Press, 20 March 2021.

We thank the Winnipeg Free Press for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 20 March 2021

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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