William Kavanaugh Francis II, 77, passed away on February 7, 2020, in Houston, TX. Kavanaugh, born July 28, 1942, in Memphis, TN, was the son of William Kavanaugh Francis and Sara Jo Little Francis. His early years were spent in Tuscaloosa, AL, before moving with his family to El Centro, CA, where he graduated from high school. An Eagle Scout, the seventeen-year-old Kavanaugh and a fellow scout completed an 800-mile mule-drawn covered wagon trip to the Boy Scout Jamboree in Colorado.
Kavanaugh received both Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Alabama and did further graduate work in metallurgical engineering. At the University, he was initiated into the Kappa Alpha Fraternity. He worked as an engineer and metallurgist at Phifer Wire Products in Tuscaloosa.
In 1971 he completed a tour of duty in Viet Nam as a Captain in the Army Corps of Engineers. After his military service, he moved to South Padre Island where he loved to fish. He was active in local events including the beginning of the Ridley Sea Turtle Project. He along with his brother are the third generation to work in the family business in Harlingen. He was president of the Harlingen Compress Co., Valley Compress Co. and Texas Thread Manufacturing Company. In addition he was vice-president of Blytheville Compress Co., Blytheville, AR, and a director of North Plains Company, Tulia, TX.
Kavanaugh married Susan Roland of La Feria on June 27, 1981, in La Feria, TX. They have a daughter, Madeline Sanders Francis, now living in Paris, France. Kavanaugh was a devoted husband and father and treasured his extended family and friends.
A life-long Methodist, Kavanaugh was an active member of the Harlingen United Methodist Church serving in various leadership positions. He shared his love of music with his daughter participating in her music education. Kavanaugh played the tuba with the Celebration Brass Choir and the Harlingen Community Band. He also served on the board of the Harlingen Community Concert Association. Kavanaugh shared his wife’s interest in family history and joined Sons of the American Revolution.
Kavanaugh served on the boards of the Cameron County Drainage District Number 5, the National Cotton Council, and the Cotton Warehouse Association. He was a member of the Harlingen Chamber of Commerce First Bale Committee. In 1999, Kavanaugh and Susan were honored as the Don and Dona of the Algodon Club.
He is survived by his wife and daughter; siblings Sally Francis Kehayes and husband Alex, Edenton, NC, Tom Hendrix Francis and wife Barbara, Blytheville, AR, and Christine Francis Copeland, Kansas City, MO; brothers-in-law Dick Roland and wife Martha, Fredericksburg, TX, Greg Roland and wife Sandy, Sun City, TX, Steve Roland and wife Jenny, Magnolia, TX, and Larry Roland and wife Melissa, Ponte Vedra, FL; beloved nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews. He was predeceased by his parents. Kavanaugh was buried at Restlawn Cemetery in La Feria, TX.
A Celebration of Life service will be held at the First United Methodist Church, Harlingen, on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020, at 10:00 A.M., with Rev. J.J. Wicke officiating. A reception will follow in the church Fellowship Hall. Donations may be made in Kavanaugh’s memory to the First United Methodist Church, 321 E. Harrison Ave., Harlingen, TX, 78550 or Asbury Theological Seminary, 204 N. Lexington Ave., Wilmore, KY 40390, or charity of choice.
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