James E. Cavalier
1927 - 2021
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James Edward Cavalier, 93, of Sewickley, passed away Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021. Jim Cavalier, the founding headmaster of Sewickley Academy's Senior School, passed away due to complications from covid-19. He was born Aug. 7, 1927, in Pittsburgh, was graduated from Catholic University and pursued graduate studies in administration at the University of Pittsburgh. Beginning in 1955, Jim taught Latin and English at Shady Side Academy. In 1962, he was asked to launch Sewickley Academy's Senior School. Through his leadership, choice of faculty and curriculum (including the novel May Program), he created a school that is defined by academic excellence, diversity, creativity and school spirit. It was immensely gratifying for him to see the Senior School grow from its small, experimental beginnings to one of the best college-preparatory schools in Pennsylvania. After retiring from the Academy in 1992, he served as an admissions officer at Carnegie Mellon until 2002. To hone his own skills and mentor others, he was active in numerous organizations focused on promoting excellence in secondary and higher education, including both the Pennsylvania and National Associations of Independent Schools, as well as the Pennsylvania Association for College Admission Counseling (PACAC), which awarded him the Delwin K. Gustafson Award for dedicated service to students and the profession. He also served for many years on the board of the Sewickley YMCA. Following his retirement, Jim divided his time between Sewickley and Naples, Fla., enjoying opportunities to read, fish, golf and visit with friends and family. He remained devoted to Sewickley Academy, regularly attending reunions and school events. He was a man of great personal faith, and a loving and devoted husband, father and grandfather. Jim was a member of St. James Church in Sewickley and of the Edgeworth Club. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Jacqueline "Patty" Cavalier, of Sewickley; and three daughters, Teresa (Mark) Plotkin, of Bethesda, Md., Elisa Cavalier, of Sewickley, and Carolyn Cavalier, of Peacham, Vt.; granddaughters, Sarah and Natalie Plotkin, and Francesca Leahy; and siblings, Mary Jane Fuller, Sarah "Sally" Lee, and Joseph Cavalier. He was preceded in death by his brothers, Anthony "Buddy" and Paul. Mr. Cav was the warm wind of hope and inspiration that filled the sails of many students, parents and faculty alike. He will be remembered as "Magister et Amicus" Latin for teacher and friend. Given current public health restrictions, there will be no visitation or funeral service at this time. A public celebration of Jim's life will be scheduled when conditions permit. Arrangements are by R.D. COPELAND FUNERAL HOME in Sewickley. Memorial contributions may be made to The James E. Cavalier Scholarship Fund at Sewickley Academy, www.Sewickley.org/Cavalier, or in Jim's memory to the Sewickley Valley YMCA, 625 Blackburn Road, Sewickley, PA 15143, or Sewickley Public Library, 500 Thorn St., Sewickley, PA 15143.

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Published in Sewickley Herald on Jan. 14, 2021.
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Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by R.D. Copeland Funeral Home Irvine Chapel
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9 entries
January 16, 2021
Mr. Cav was so special! From day one in 1963 as he took charge of the first class to become the Sr. School, he was beloved. We all knew he had our backs in a myriad of personal and academic ways. For these past 55 years, he has kept in touch, attended reunions and been happy to socialize or visit when opportunities emerged. My love goes out to Patty, and his beautiful girls. He will be remembered with joy and love always!
Jill Barber Helmer Class of 1966
January 10, 2021
I met Jim in 1968 when working as an admission officer at Bethany College. Jim was the consummate professional. I admired him greatly. We formed a fine friendship that lasted for years even after I moved to New Hampshire to become Director of Admission at Colby Sawyer College. On several occasions Jim invited me to meet with S.A. students and speak in general about visiting colleges and what students should be looking for. These sessions were typically followed by warm hospitality. Jim will be missed by many.
Ken Miller, New London, NH
January 9, 2021
Jim was a wonderful professional, someone I met through our mutual involvement with PACAC and NACAC. His contributions were many and he served as a mentor to a number of upcoming admissions officers. It was a pleasure to know him.
Fran Cubberley
January 8, 2021
My life changed when I met Jim Cavalier! SA 1970. Condolences to the Cavalier family.
Deb Canter
January 8, 2021
Dear Pat and Family, We want you to know that you are in our prayers, we will miss Jim's beautiful smile and great conversations. We feel honored to have had Jim as a Friend .
Mary Ann & Vince Botti
January 8, 2021
Dear Patty, our heart goes out to you and your daughters. Jim was a good friend and certainly had a life well lived! Jim & Anne
Cooper Jim
January 7, 2021
Mr. Cavalier was exceptionally able to make each of us feel welcomed and important in the everyday moments. From our awkward teen years and on into our awkward middle-age alumni years, he was truly “in the moment” with each of us; may we all take that rich legacy to heart. I will remember his smiling eyes that warmly gazed at our youth and made us feel that the adults around us cared. He was blessed with an exceptionally strong memory for vivid details of our past (which illustrated to all of us that he really did care deeply). My gratitude to God for allowing me to know this fine gentleman runs deep.
Michelle Helena Denk
January 7, 2021
The people in Sewickley adored you!

Ame Caline

Michel Polnareff
January 7, 2021
Mr Cavalier was a wonderful person who came into my life at CMU. He loved his work especially helping young people. I loved our conversations with Jim. He loved his family very much. We could talk for hours. When he knew my boys were going to Central Catholic HS he called over to talk to the Brother over there. Jim will be truly missed. Heaven received an angel. Love you Jim rest in peace.
Denise LaGamba
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