Mary Ellen (Smith) Kavanaugh, age 88, of Freedom, entered eternal life on Thursday, June 18th, 2020 surrounded by her children. Her proudest titles in life were Wife, Mom, Grandma, and Great-Grandma, which she embodied through the unwavering love she gave to her family and friends.
Mary graduated from Freedom High School in 1949 where she met her true love, Michael Kavanaugh. They were married November 24th, 1951. The newlyweds settled on the Kavanaugh homestead and began to build a life of their own, which was enriched by each of their five children. After Mike’s unexpected passing in 1966, Mary managed both farms that the family operated and later worked at Presto Products for nearly 30 years.
Retirement didn’t slow Mary down! Her spunky personality and compassion for others compelled her to be an active member of the Freedom community. She dedicated much of her time to the Freedom Area Food Pantry, the Freedom Area Historical Society, Meals on Wheels, and St. Nicholas Catholic Church where she was a proud member of the funeral choir. She cherished her time volunteering at Freedom Elementary School, where she was affectionately known as “Mrs. K” in the classrooms of Mrs. Karen Elrick and Mrs. Nicole Thiel for over 15 years. Mary was extremely proud of her Irish heritage and was an ardent fan of the Green Bay Packers, whose games she proudly attended with family and friends for over 50 years.
Mary is survived by her five children and their spouses: Marlene (Ken) Vandenberg, Mike (Lynn) Kavanaugh, Jan (Mark) Kortz, Karen (Jim) Brice, and Annette (Greg) Jadin; grandchildren: Shanna (Mike) Zahn, Shane (Brandy) Vandenberg, Greg (Tiffany) Kavanaugh, Stephanie (Dave) Linsmeyer, Bailey (Devon) Starks, Taylor Drews, Chad (Heather) Kortz, Ryan (Joanna) Kortz, Marissa and Tyler Kortz, Michael Brice (Jess Sadlowsky), Nick Brice (Morgan Cerio), Nate Brice (Britt Horn), Lucas (Katie) Jadin, Logan Jadin, and Levi (Jenny) Jadin; great-grandchildren: Quin Zahn, Preston, Kaden, and Blake Vandenberg, Brady (Chloe) Manteuffel, Bennett and Sydney Kavanaugh, Carsen and Dawson Linsmeyer, Peyton Starks, Leo Kortz, Calleigh Kortz, Drew and Nellie Jadin; sisters-in-law: Mary (Kavanaugh) Mauthe and Donna Smith; and loving friend Debbie Schuh.
After nearly 54 years, Mary was reunited with her soul mate, Mike. She was also preceded in death by her parents, Earl and Ella (Murphy) Smith; Mike’s parents, John and Anna (Dorsey) Kavanaugh; siblings: Genevieve (Carl) Ziegler, Valeria (Cliff) Huss, Gerald (Dorothy) Smith, Eunice (Robert) Romenesko, and E. Michael Smith; in-laws James (Dorothy) Kavanaugh, Nick (Marion) Kavanaugh; Jack (Jane) Kavanaugh, Bill (Eleanor) Kavanaugh, and Gerald Mauthe; and special friend Karen Elrick.
Mary’s family would like to extend their sincere gratitude to the incredible staff at Country Villa in Freedom for their support over the past three months; her many special home caregivers; Compassus Hospice; and Dr. Dernlan and his staff, especially Tracy Schlavensky, for their compassionate care.
Memorial services will be held Monday, June 22, 2020, at St. Nicholas Catholic Church, W2037 County Road S, Freedom. Visitation will be at the church on Monday from 9:00 a.m. until 11:15, which will be followed by a Mass at 11:30 a.m. Due to the current health situation, social distancing will be practiced, and face masks are encouraged but not required. St. Nicholas Parish is abiding by the guidelines issued by the Diocese of Green Bay; therefore, the seating capacity of the church is limited to 100. An additional 60 seats will be available in the Fellowship Hall. If you are unable to attend in person, you can join our celebration of Mom’s life on the Verkuilen-Van Deurzen Family Funeral Home Facebook page as a Facebook live event. We know that wherever you join us from, you will be with us in your hearts. For online condolences, please visit www.verkuilenfh.com. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Freedom Area Food Pantry in Mary’s honor.
Mom, while our lives will never be the same without you, Dad has been patiently waiting to hold you once again. We love you sweet lady and are so proud of all that you have accomplished! May you and Dad enjoy Paradise together.
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