This is the login panel

Return to Guestbook-Obituaries

Guestbook and Funeral Services in Washington DC

Maria Kirchman Kavanagh
Service: December 14, 2017 (Thursday) at 10:30 a.m.
Location: Holy Trinity Catholic Church

Maria Kirchman Kavanagh (Age 103)

 Of Silver Spring, MD, died November 20, 2017. Although she prized her recognition as an author, the signal achievement of her life was the love and care with which she sustained her vast family, her extended family as well as her descendants, until her last hours. The eldest of eight children, Maria was born in 1914 in Bay City, Michigan, to second-generation German-Americans. She later recalled her earliest memory, of her father coming into their house to announce the Armistice in November 1918. She also recalled standing at the living room window with her weeping mother, watching the funeral cortege of her Aunt Jenny, who had died in the influenza pandemic. Maria graduated from Marygrove College in Detroit in 1935, taught school as a reading specialist, and published poetry. Married to John C. Kavanagh in 1939, their family grew to seven daughters. John and Maria made their home in Evanston, Illinois and then Dixon, Illinois. In 1961 they moved the family to the Washington, DC area as John took a job with the Kennedy Administration. Maria was interested in politics and public policy, casting her final ballot in the 2016 election, as keenly informed as ever. Maria was a columnist for Our Sunday Visitor, a contributor to The Washington Times, and the author of the novel We Were Once Beautiful Butterflies, published by Zebra Press in 1982. Well into her last decades she wrote fiction. Although she did not fly on an airplane until she was in her 50s she later traveled widely, often with her children, and kept fascinating journals. Maria was an active volunteer with the Christian Family Movement, Catholic Charities, Meals on Wheels, and for many years brought communion to the homebound. She taught reading and English to middle school students and language skills to women in the service industry. But her greatest charitable works were direct and private. There was always room at her table for the person who needed a steadying hand. She is survived by six daughters, Mary Sherry (the late William), of Wisconsin Rapids, WI, Anne Stroh (Roger) of Potomac, MD, Carol McGinley (Wayne Stephens) of Schnecksville, PA, Patricia (James Grant) of Brooklyn, NY, Maureen (Jonas Goldstein) of Columbia, MD, and Kathryn Kavanagh Baran (Jan) of Alexandria, VA.; 18 grandchildren; and 19 great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her sister, Virginia Bueche (Howard) of Flushing MI, and legions of nieces and nephews for whom she was, and always will be, the iconic "Aunt Maria." She was preceded in death by her beloved husband, John Carroll Kavanagh; two brothers; four sisters; her daughter, Marcia Kavanagh Dodge; and great-granddaughter, Cecilia Agnes Turner. A Funeral Mass will be offered on Thursday, December 14, 10:30 am at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, 1315 36th St., NW, (between N and O Streets), Washington, DC. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Washington Jesuit Academy, 900 Varnum St NE, Washington, DC 20017; or to Riderwood (Memo: Benevolent Care Fund), Riderwood Philanthropy Department, 3110 Gracefield Road, Silver Spring MD 20904. Please view online at :

View the guest book for Maria Kirchman Kavanagh

Sign the guest book

Order Flowers

Return to the service list


DeVol Funeral Home