Obituary: Tyler Kavanagh
July 2, 1985 – August 26, 2022
Tyler Jon Kavanagh once described himself as an avocado; he seemed tough on the outside, but really had a soft inside, “and a great big ol’ heart.”
Tyler had the biggest heart, and his death is an enormous loss for everyone his life touched. Tyler died on August 26th, 2022, when a truck swerved out of its lane and hit him head-on. But, how he was taken from us is not the most important moment of his 37 years of life. All of the moments of love and kindness are what matter.
Tyler grew up in Sunapee, NH. He loved spending time with his parents, brother, aunts, uncles, and cousins at his Pop Tucker’s house. He loved his Nana, June Meigh, who made him “feel loved for exactly who he was”. He loved the Red Sox (“before they started winning”).
Tyler loved food, and he loved skiing. These loves brought him to Olympic Valley, and to his wife Jennifer. He captured her interest on the hill, but won her over on their third date with made-from-scratch chocolate chip pancakes. Tyler never attended culinary school–in fact, he graduated from UNH with a dual degree in French and international affairs–but his love for food and for feeding others were the driving forces in his vocation. Tyler made beautiful food–lamb kefta, handmade vegan mozzarella, fried eggs and polenta with blistered tomatoes–and rose to be head chef at a local restaurant.
But his favorite job in his career was as a cook at the Pine Street Café at Tahoe Forest Hospital, where he started working spring of 2019. Tyler’s big heart brought him to TFH. He said he wanted his food to nurture people and to do good in the world. He used to say, “everyone needs to eat.” It meant a lot to him that even in the throes of the pandemic, he could make someone smile by serving them biscuits and gravy or creating a tasty vegetarian option.
Those of us who were lucky enough to be his family and friends were nourished by him as well. Tyler would cook for 10 hours at work, and then come home and make the most tenderly prepared and vibrant dinners. He also shared his dry humor, puns, and compassion with us. He listened to us and supported us. And he always, always had energy to play with and cuddle his dogs, Sherman and Arnold.
Tyler worked hard to give so much to the world. He openly shared his struggles with depression and addiction. He was proud of his bravery, his dedication to The Work to overcome those struggles. And it paid off; his smile was so bright the last couple years of his life. With his wife, he hiked 270 miles of the PCT across his last two summers, and in the last year tried surfing in Hawaii and skied in Canada. He and Jennifer celebrated five years of marriage in July of this year.
Most importantly, he continued to expand his connections with others. He brought empathy and kindness to all relationships, big and small. One of his last accomplishments was to serve as president of the hospital’s Employee Association union. Tyler’s own struggles with mental health and pain fed an ember in his heart to fight for justice for others. His heart’s capacity for love was always growing.
Tyler is missed. He will always be missed. Someone with such a big heart is naturally loved greatly in return. If you feel called to do so, please spread the love by making a donation to either the Tahoe Fund (tahoefund.org) or Sierra Community House (sierracommunityhouse.org) in Tyler’s name. His family appreciates all the kindness the community has shown since his death. Please continue to show love and kindness to all who surround you, just as Tyler would have done.
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