The Good Life|Kavanaugh retires from MIDD-West after 20 years

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 19, 2009

After 20 years of working at MIDD-West Industries, Mary Kavanaugh will soon have time to pursue her artistic endeavors — and feed Woff, her 2-year-old Great Dane, cheese.

Kavanaugh, 65, who has worked in the job placement service for the handicapped and disabled, will officially retire Aug. 1.

“The last 20 years were the most satisfying,” said Kavanaugh. “I truly loved my job.”

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Social work has been Kavanaugh’s specialty since 1966, when she graduated from Louisiana Tech University. While at MIDD-West, she has helped individuals with disabilities find employment in the area.

“If someone can’t compete with normal society, a barrier that prevents them, then they are put in jobs they can perform,” said Kavanaugh. “We’ve had an 80 percent retention rate of jobs.”

Kavanaugh recalled, “There was one man who had one leg, and he wanted to be a janitor. We had people calling over and over telling us what a good job he did.”

Now, she just wants to get back to painting and aims to visit Alaska.

“Everything’s just bigger in Alaska,” she said, laughing. “I also have wonderful friends in my life, and this (retirement) frees me up to spend time with them.”

Calling her fellow staff members “wonderful” and a “great support system,” Kavanaugh will miss her time at MIDD-West. “It was great working under my supervisor, Kearney Waites,” she said.

And the feeling is mutual.

“She is one of those steel magnolias that has made such a quiet difference in so many lives,” he said. “She does not get out and bang her own drum and blow her own horn, but she and her staff, over the years, have been so instrumental in placing so many people in so many jobs — and not only that, but keeping them there.”

Kavanaugh has one son and three grandchildren, and she looks forward to spending more time with them.