James F. Cavanaugh, 1917-2010: Noted Jersey breed leader


REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio — James Francis Cavanaugh, executive secretary of the American Jersey Cattle Club from 1956 to July 1, 1985 and the founding executive secretary of National All-Jersey Inc., died April 6, 2010.

He was born April 14, 1917 in Kansas.

James F. Cavanaugh, 1917-2010: Noted Jersey breed leader


Among his contributions to the Jersey breed and the U.S. Jersey organizations were increased production based upon adoption of sound genetic programs, a strong milk marketing program, expansion through Genetic Recovery, the development of Jersey Marketing Service, founding of the Jersey Journal and originator of the National Heifer Sale to fund an outstanding youth program and a program to control genetic abnormalities in the Jersey breed.

A hallmark of Cavanaugh’s career was his efforts to expand and improve markets for Jersey milk. In the early ’50s, he recognized the value of the All-Jersey milk program and pioneered its national expansion. In the mid-’70s, the Equity Project was developed, returning untold millions to Jersey milk producers and setting the stage for implementation of multiple component pricing (MCP) as a part of Federal Order Reform on Jan. 1, 2000.

The club was the first breed registry association to designate the USDA sire summary as its official sire rating program.

Another non-traditional program molded by Cavanaugh was Genetic Recovery, in which superior unregistered Jersey females could be brought into the AJCC Herd Register.

Breed expansion was fostered by the organization of Jersey Marketing Service in 1971, when it took over management of the National Heifer Sale.

Cavanaugh was the first editor of the Jersey Journal when the magazine began publication in October of 1953.

Cavanaugh was a graduate of Kansas State College (now University) in 1942 with a major in dairy production and minors in dairy management and agricultural journalism. He was a member of the 1941 dairy cattle judging team which won at Waterloo, Iowa, and placed third at the National Intercollegiate Judging Contest.

An Air Force B-24 pilot with 50 combat missions in the European Theatre during World War II, he attained the rank of major.

Following his discharge, he returned to Hoard’s Dairyman, Ft. Atkinson, Wis., as associate editor. In 1947, he joined the staff of The American Jersey Cattle Club as assistant secretary, then was promoted to executive secretary nine years later.

Cavanaugh served in leadership capacities with National Dairy Shrine, the American Dairy Science Association, the Purebred Dairy Cattle Association, the National Brucellosis Committee, and the National Society of Livestock Records Association, plus the American board of KEEP, the Kiyosato Educational Experiment Project of Japan. He was also a breeder of registered Jersey cattle.

After retiring from the Jersey organizations, Cavanaugh joined the staff of the American Guernsey Association. From April 15, 1987 to March 1988, Cavanaugh was acting executive secretary of National Dairy Herd Improvement Association, Inc. Between January 1988 and January 1992 Cavanaugh was research development coordinator for the AJCC Research Foundation, which he helped created in 1967.

Numerous honors were bestowed upon Cavanaugh in addition to the AJCC Distinguished Service Award, including Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame, National Dairy Shrine Guest of Honor, The American Jersey Cattle Club Lifetime Membership, The Ohio State University Dairy Science Hall of Service and Distinguished Service Awards from National Pedigreed Livestock Council, National Association of Animal Breeders, World Jersey Cattle Bureau, National DHIA, National Society of Livestock Records Association, Kansas State University and The American Dairy Science Association.

His passion in later years was to edit the Gotham Herdsman books and newsletters, chronicling the lives of the Borden Boys, the college students who cared for the dairy cows of all breeds displayed in the Borden’s Dairy World of Tomorrow exhibit at the 1939 World’s Fair.

In 1999, he was present for Elsie’s 60th anniversary and birthday bash in Bryant Park, New York City, then again in June of 2007 for the 150th anniversary of the Borden Company and to celebrate the donation of Borden Boys’ personal memorabilia to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

His wife, Virginia Allen, whom he married April 22, 1946, preceded him in death.

Cavanaugh is survived by sons, Michael Cavanaugh, of Arlington, Va.; Paul Cavanaugh, of Columbus; Kevin Cavanaugh, of Raleigh, N.C.; and daughter, Mary Manley, of Columbus; seven grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren He was a 63-year member of St. Catharine Parish, where a funeral mass was conducted April 9.

At the request of the family, in lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to The J.F. Cavanaugh Fund of the AJCC Research Foundation, 6486 E. Main St., Reynoldsburg OH 43068.


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