Cover photo for Wayne Charles Cavanaugh's Obituary
Wayne Charles Cavanaugh Profile Photo

Wayne Charles Cavanaugh

September 26, 1945 — March 14, 2021

Wayne Charles Cavanaugh

Wayne Cavanaugh of Pylesville, MD, passed away peacefully in his sleep on March 14, 2021. He lived a life dedicated to Christian faith, family, and friends—all of whom will remember his signature laugh, countless recollections and stories, prodigious gardening knowledge, and mastery of pinochle.

He was born in Dundalk in 1945 to Arthur and Bertha Cavanaugh. He had three siblings: Gary, Beverly, and Bonnie. His childhood was spent playing outside and building train gardens with his best friend, Ron Maul. Wayne and his siblings also learned the value in wonderful homemade food in childhood, as evidenced by anyone who enjoyed Wayne’s take on a family barbeque recipe, Bev’s sour beef and dumplings or zucchini cakes, Bonnie’s Thanksgiving meals, and Gary’s garlic shrimp. Family meals and gatherings were regular features of life, and these times were always celebratory. Bertha lived across the street from her sister Ida and her husband, Toots, who were much like grandparents to Wayne and his siblings. Summers were spent picking tomatoes on the Ritter family farm with cousin George, and it was there that Wayne’s “Uncle Charlie” instilled in him a lifelong love and respect for farming, as well as a remarkable sense of generosity, giving, and service to others. (It should be noted that these years also helped Wayne indulge his insatiable sweet tooth, thanks to Aunt Kate’s cakes and pies, not to mention the various confections Bertha was making at home.) Over time, and true to his Maryland roots, Wayne’s love of farming was rivaled by one of fishing and crabbing, which he enjoyed frequently with his uncle Jack.

Wayne attended Dundalk High School, where he was a gifted athlete in lacrosse and wrestled on a team that won a state championship. The friendships he gained with his wrestling buddies were so solid that the group met regularly for lunch throughout their lives. Lacrosse led Wayne to the University of Maryland, where he played on competitive and successful teams. While at Maryland, Wayne also developed permanent and storied friendships with his brothers in the PIKA fraternity, a group who would become like family, celebrating birthdays and weddings—and eventually their children’s weddings—over many years together.

Most importantly during his years at Maryland, Wayne met Betty Rose, an educator with writing, singing, and artistic talents whom he married on December 29, 1973, at the home of William and Margaret Rose. The couple settled in Baltimore and started a family not long after Wayne used the civil engineering degree he earned at Maryland to begin a 30-year career at Baltimore Gas and Electric, yet another place where he met lifelong friends.

In Baltimore, Betty and Wayne would raise their three daughters, Katy (“Kay-tie,” as Wayne would say), Beth (“Beffers”), and Laura (“La”) to “do as I say, not as I do,” and to also love art, history, science, and math via yearly road trips to museums, parks, and historical sites. During the early years, birthdays were often celebrated with family at the home of next-door neighbors the Hannemans, who became like family as well. Wayne maintained a vegetable garden in Baltimore before the family moved to a farmhouse in Pylesville, where he had ample room to create a much larger garden. Wayne, cousin George, and brother Gary worked together for years to restore the farmhouse before the family resided there.

Wayne was perhaps most content farming the garden in Pylesville with his vintage McCormick Farmall tractor, known as “Big Red.” He grew lettuce, kale, asparagus, cucumbers, Roma tomatoes, Brandywine tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, peas, lima beans (“limers!”), corn, onions, potatoes, watermelon, sweet and spicy peppers (including sili), lopes, squash, swiss chard, zucchini, spinach, blueberries, and cherries. What he didn’t use, he gave away, or he carefully froze and canned to enjoy throughout the year. Summer or fall visitors to the farm rarely left without fresh vegetables, grown organically with love. Those fortunate enough to leave with potatoes enjoyed the crop Wayne labored and fretted over the most. Those who got some “kraut” were just plain lucky.

Wayne is preceded in death by his mother, Bertha Cavanaugh, and his father, Arthur Cavanaugh; aunts Ida, Ann, and Kate; uncles Jack, Rich, Charles, Charlie, and Toots; and friends Ron Maul, Margie Ritter, Tom Ogle, Don McGlew, Rick Avena, and Bob Ollerhead. He is survived by his wife, Mary Cavanaugh; daughter Katherine and her husband Scott; daughter Elizabeth and her boyfriend Tim; daughter Laura and her husband Chris; siblings Gary and his wife, Jean, Beverly and her husband, Irv, Bonnie and her husband, Roland; aunt Norma; as well as many nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.

Wayne Cavanaugh would not want anyone to be sad at his passing. He was a “true Renaissance man” who loved to have fun and enjoy maximum time with family and friends. So have a toast with some Miller High Life (in the bottle, please), turn up the James Brown, and celebrate a life well-lived.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be sent to St. Luke’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Dundalk, MD, and their local food pantry. St. Luke’s was a decades-long place of worship, fellowship, and faith for Wayne and his family. The church is located at 1803 Dundalk Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21222. Submit a memorial donation online at https://www.stlukesdundalk.org/give or contact the church by phone at 410-633-5374.

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