Laurey Kavanagh, 76
After fiercely battling the combined forces of three illnesses, Laurey peacefully passed into the loving arms of her Lord and Savior on March 8, 2018, at Schneidmiller Hospice House with her son at her side.
Born Loretta Ledowski, in Chicago, Illinois to German immigrant parents on August 12, 1941. She joined older sisters, Rita and Marilyn, and was baptized in the Lutheran Church in December.
Growing up in Villa Park, she graduated from York Community High in Elmhurst in 1959, where she acted in the play “Oklahoma” as Laurey, the name by which she would be known for the rest of her life.
After two years at Drake University in Iowa, she went on to work as an executive secretary at the fledgling McDonald’s Restaurants corporate headquarters in the early 1960s, before settling at Nightingale-Conant Corporation in Chicago in the late ’60s.
While there, she met a Nightingale sales representative based in California named Giles Kavanagh. Though they had spoken by phone many times and never laid eyes on one another, they picked each other out across a crowded convention hall at their first meeting. Laurey had found the love of her life, and they were married March 22, 1971 in Las Vegas.
Leaving Chicago behind for good, she moved to Costa Mesa, Calif. to begin her new life as Mrs. Giles Kavanagh. Her only son, Todd, came along Oct. 31, 1971, and her Mom, Frieda, moved out the following January.
As Todd grew, Laurey wanted the best education for him, so she started Hillcrest Carden School, in Temecula, Calif. in 1977. The private school grew over the years and prepared many children for college and life beyond.
At the same time, Laurey and Giles worked together through the 70s and 80s to build his real estate company and, later, a successful Best Western motel in Temecula. During this period, they traveled through the United States and Europe alike, flying the supersonic Concorde and sailing on the Queen Elizabeth II.
In the midst of all that, Laurey earned her reputation as the “Mad Shopper” as she became a regular customer of the finer department stores. Designer shoes or handbags, anyone? Little did Laurey know her active life would be cut short at age 47 with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. But after six months in a wheelchair, she left the chair behind and didn’t return until 2017.
In 1989, Giles, Laurey and Todd moved to Escondido for their last nine years in California. Laurey saw her dream for Todd fulfilled when he received his bachelor’s degree in 1994 from the University of San Diego.
In 1998, it was time to retire to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and she adjusted yet again to a new lifestyle. Despite a heart failure diagnosis in 2005, Laurey was determined to stay active, whether it meant cooking meals or ironing clothes.
Through a pacemaker, stents, falls, a broken ankle, many hospitals stays and doctor visits, bottles of medication, dialysis and finally, bedridden with a feeding tube, Laurey showed her characteristic ability to set her suffering aside. For her, Giles and Todd always came first, to the very last. Her boundless love, radiant personality, fierce determination and unwavering faith made her the Gold Standard as a wife and mother.
She is survived by husband, Giles; son, Todd; sister Rita (Jim) and brother, Heinz. Her parents, Hermann and Frieda and sister, Marilyn were already in Heaven to greet her on arrival.
A memorial service will be forthcoming, with arrangements in the care of Bell Tower Funeral Home.