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Mary Helen Martin Cavanagh
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Birth: May 1, 1930
Howard County
Indiana, USA
Death: May 27, 2008
Oakland County
Michigan, USA

Former first lady of Detroit, Michigan.

Mary Helen Cavanagh entered eternal life Tuesday, May 27, 2008 of complications of leukemia at her Novi, Michigan, home. She was 78 years old.

Mary Helen Martin was born in Kokomo, Indiana, and moved to Detroit as a young girl. She graduated from St. Benedict High School in Highland Park in 1948, and attended the University of Detroit, where she was crowned homecoming queen in 1951. In 1951, the University of Detroit student met Jerome P. Cavanagh at the Michigan State Fair, where she was working as a secretary to the fair's general manager. A year later, she married Jerome, who was attending law school at the University of Detroit, and the couple began raising a family. They eventually had eight children.

Jerome served as mayor from 1962 until 1970, during one of the city's most turbulent times. As Detroit's first lady, Mary hosted many events for her husband, including dinner for President John F. Kennedy, John Wayne and Frank Sinatra.

At her husband's inaugural ball in 1962, according to The Detroit News, she "kept greeting people with a bright smile and firm handshake, ... She looked like a girl at first prom in a pink organza dress," despite battling a throat infection and a 103-degree temperature.

In 1966, industrialist Alex Manoogian gave Detroit the Manoongian Mansion as a home for mayors to live. In her decision not to move from their northwest Detroit home, she said it would be "an intimate setting for my husband to entertain in, and for other city functions. ... But it's an impractical home to raise eight children in. Look at the backyard - two boatwells, a swimming pool and then the river. I can just see one of them falling in."

The couple separated in 1967, and the mayor and four of his sons eventually moved into the Manoogian Mansion. He died of a heart attack on November 27, 1979.

Other survivors include sons Patrick, David, Christopher, Philip and Jerome; daughters Mary Therese Cavanagh and Elizabeth Angela Bischoff, and 13 grandchildren.

Visitation is 4-9 p.m. and 3-9 p.m. Friday at O'Brien/Sullivan Funeral Home, 41555 Grand River in Novi. A scripture service is set for 7 p.m. Friday.

A funeral mass will be 11 a.m. Saturday at Holy Family Church, 24505 Meadowbrook Road in Novi. Visitation will precede the mass at 10:30 a.m.

Memorial donations in Mrs. Cavanagh's name may be made to Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Michigan Chapter, 1421 E. 12 Mile Rd., Bldg. A. Madison Heights, MI 48071 or
living plants appreciated. 
Holy Sepulchre Cemetery
Oakland County
Michigan, USA
Created by: Elizabeth & Ron
Record added: Jun 06, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 27364925
Mary Helen <i>Martin</i> Cavanagh
Added by: Elizabeth & Ron
Mary Helen <i>Martin</i> Cavanagh
Added by: Elizabeth & Ron
Mary Helen <i>Martin</i> Cavanagh
Cemetery Photo
Added by: Mike Reed
Photos may be scaled.
Click on image for full size.

So sorry for the loss of your Mom, I hope these verses at John 5:28,29 brings you comfort. It says, Jehovah God through his so Jesus Christ, will resurrect our loved dear ones to live, not in the, but on a peaceful paradise earth. (Psalm 37:10,11,29)
- D Carter
 Added: Jan. 29, 2016

- Rosie♥Mooch
 Added: May. 27, 2012
~*~ A Mother's Love ~*~ Her love is like an island ~ In life's ocean, vast and wide ~ A peaceful, quiet shelter ~ From the wind, the rain, the tide. ~ 'Tis bound on the North by Hope, ~ By Patience on the West, ~ By tender Counsel on the South ~ And on th...(Read more)
- Love & Prayers, Liz & Ron
 Added: May. 13, 2012
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