James “J.R.” Cavanuagh, the son of George Cavanaugh, was born in Detroit, Mich., on Sept. 1, 1934, and died peacefully at home on Feb. 6, 2024.

J.R. attended Notre Dame on a basketball scholarship and played football, then went on to play tennis and graduated from Marquette University with a BA in Business and minor in Philosophy. Prior to that he served as a Lieutenant officer in the United States Marine Corp, where he won The Sharpshooter Award. He excelled in several sales jobs and owned several businesses. He met his wife, Marguerite and became Sales Manager for one of her companies, which manufactured Bugatti and 1923 Mercedes Benz kit cars.

In 1992, after Pan Am closed where Marguerite was employed, they chose to move to Ocala, Fla., bought a farm to breed Thoroughbred racehorses. He still ran the business at 89 years of age.

In 1999, he and Wicklow Farm received the honor of being voted the eighth best Thoroughbred horse breeder of the year in the World. It is prestigious to be mentioned in the top 100. Horsemen have referred to him as a legend and a genius in the horse industry, as was his brother George A. Cavanaugh, in Ocala. When he first started, stud farms turned him down because he was unknown and his horses not good enough for them. It didn’t take long before the stud farms were calling J. R. to ask to breed to his mares.

He enjoyed playing recreational baseball to the end of his life.

J.R. was survived by his wife Marguerite, his Daughters Erin and Colleen, and son James, Kevin, Casey, and George.

A viewing will be held at Roberts Funeral Home West, on Monday from 10:00AM until 1:00PM, on Monday, February 12, 2024, followed by a Mass at Blessed Trinity Church on Tuesday morning at 10:30.

Please, you all are invited to attend to help us remember the life of J. R., who was called a unique, living, Damon Runyon character by many who spent time in his farm office listening to his many stories.

The family requests no flowers, and as J. R. always said, ‘Just a few kind words.’

Return to Feb. 16 issue of Wire to Wire