American Patriotic 10

William J. Cavanaugh

June 27, 1929 ~ July 14, 2019 (age 90)

Obituary Image


William J Cavanaugh, Acoustical Society of American (ASA) Fellow and 2019 Gold Medal recipient died July 14, 2019 shortly after celebrating his 90th birthday.  He was an internationally recognized leader in his field of Architectual Acoustics and consulting for 60 years. 

Born and raised in Boston, William Joseph was the second child of seven born to Francis X Cavanaugh and Catherine M (Hennessey).    He graduated Boston English "the first public high school in America" in 1946 with honors.  In 1951, Bill received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was awarded the American Institute of Architects Student Medal.

After graduation, Bill was commissioned 2nd Lt and immediately ordered to active duty where he served as unit training and staff officer with the 6th Armored Div. and Army Corp of Engineers at Ft Leonard Wood, Missouri for the duration of the Korean War.  In 1953, shortly before the armistice, Bill married his love, Ginny (Louise Virginia Huff), a US Army Air Force WWII veteran whom he met as a student while at MIT.  Ginny passed away in November of 2010.  Bill remained in US Army Reserves, retiring at the rank of full Colonel in 1982.  He was awarded Meritorious Service Medal for 31 years of continuous service.

After his service in 1954 he joined his MIT professor and inspirational mentor Bob Newman at the trailblazing acoustical firm of Bolt, Beranek & Newman (BBN).   Along with Dr. Leo Beranek and Dick Bolt he participated in implementing ground breaking and modern techniques in noise & vibration  control, concert hall design and building acoustics that remain as standards today.   During this time "Cav" co-authored a collection of papers on "Speech Privacy in Buildings" which was selected as benchmark papers in Architectual Acoustics in 1962.  In 1975 he co-founded Cavanaugh Tocci Associates with Gregory Tocci .    For 40 years CTA   continues to be recogonized worldwide as experts in acoustical consulting.  Bill was principal author along with Tocci  on the first and second edition of the book "Architectual Acoustics: Principals and Practice."  

In addition to the ASA 2019 Gold Medal, Bill's practice, leadership and advancement of Acoustical Consulting was recognized with Laymon Miller Award 2015, Robert B Newman award 2011, Walter Clement Sabine award 2006, and Paul Boner Medal 1983.  Bill was always eager to share his knowledge and experience by teaching and lecturing at prestigious institutions. He encouraged his associates and contemporaries to do as well.   Harvard University School of Public Health, MIT, Rhode Island School of Design, Rodger Williams College, and the Boston Architectural Center, are where he inspired hundreds students involved in learning practical application of principles of architectual acoustics.  A dedicated ASA fellow, he developed and chaired many executive and technical committees on acoustics for decades.  Hundreds of lectures, technical papers and publications on Acoustics are attributed to William J Cavanaugh. He was president the National Council of Acoustical Consultants and member of various professional Acoustical and engineering organizations.

Bill was generous with his time and counsel to his colleagues, family and friends.  He lived by his selfless creed that much can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit.  Bill's faith in God sustained his positive attitude in all his professional and personal endeavors.  He practiced his faith serving his community and at Saint Theresa's of Lisieux Parish in Sherborn.  He enjoyed many rounds of golf, traveling with friends and family, he found joy in listening and singing to music and family gatherings.  It is what he called the joys of life. 

In addition to his loving wife Louise Virginia (Ginny), Bill was predeceased by his son Lt. William J. Cavanaugh Jr. USAF who died in 1982 while on active duty.   Also his brothers Francis, Joseph and wife Lois, Thomas, his little sister Catherine M. Campbell and sister in law Claire (Hamrock). He was survived by four of his five children, daughters Joan M. Cavanaugh (Beth Miller) of Belmont; Lauren C. Alves (Dennis ) of Ashland; and sons Mark A Cavanaugh of Salem, Dr. John W. Cavanaugh  (Lillea Cameron) of Columbus, Ohio.  Grandchildren Mathew R. Hoover of Boston, Catherine V. Hoover-Camera of Woburn, Jonathan W. Alves  (Lauren) of Boston, Josef M. Alves (Megan) of Boston, Jared D. Alves (Maxime Devilliers) of Boston,  Andrew W. Cavanaugh of Peabody, Raquel Brown (Andy) of Wapakoneta, Ohio, Natalia Gusching (Mike) of Savannah, GA, Wesley Vargas of Columbus, Ohio; Great Grandchildren Milo and Rowan Camera of Woburn, Sofia and Benjamin Brown of Wapakoneta, Ohio, Gabriela and Eva Gusching of Savannah, GA, and his newborn namesake William Lyons Alves born on July 7th in Boston.  His brothers James (Carol) of Hingham and Deacon Michael of Braintree.  The family is grateful for the excellent care given to Bill by his caretaker Vivian and his  friends at Fairview Estates in Hopkinton. 

Funeral from the John Everett & Sons Funeral Home 4 Park Street NATICK COMMON Saturday July 20th at 9am. Followed by a Funeral Mass in St. Theresa of Lisieux Church 35 Main Street Sherborn at 10am. Relatives and friends are kindly invited to attend. Visiting Hours Friday July 19th from 4-8pm in the funeral home. Interment St. Patrick’s Cemetery Natick.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Lieutenant William J Cavanaugh Jr. Memorial Scholarship - Natick High School 15 West Street, Natick, MA 01760 or the Robert Bradford Newman Student Award Fund c/o Acoustical Society of America, 1305 Walt Whitman Rd, Suite 300, Melville, NY 11747. 


















To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of William J. Cavanaugh, please visit our floral store.


July 19, 2019

4:00 PM to 8:00 PM
John Everett & Sons Funeral Home at Natick Common
4 Park Street
Natick, MA 01760

Mass of Christian Burial
July 20, 2019

10:00 AM
St. Theresa of Lisieux Church
35 South Main Street (RT. 27)
Sherborn, MA 01770

© 2020 John Everett & Sons Funeral Home at Natick Common. All Rights Reserved. Funeral Home website by CFS & TA | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy