boston.com News your connection to The Boston Globe

Ken Kavanaugh, 90, coach, scout for New York Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Ken Kavanaugh, a longtime coach and scout with the New York Giants who spent three years as a bomber pilot in World War II, has died. He was 90.

Mr. Kavanaugh died of complications from pneumonia Thursday morning in Sarasota, Fla., where he had lived since retiring from football in 1999, the team said.

Mr. Kavanaugh spent 45 years in the Giants organization, beginning in 1955, when he was hired as an assistant coach. He switched to the scouting department in 1971 and worked there until his retirement in 1999.

"Ken Kavanaugh was a revered member of the Giants family," said John Mara, Giants president and chief executive officer. "He led an extraordinary life, from his years of service in World War II through his career in the NFL as a player, coach, and scout. He made many important contributions to the Giants over the years, and we will miss him very much."

Born in 1916 in Little Rock, Ark., Mr. Kavanaugh was voted the Southeastern Conference's most valuable player at Louisiana State University in 1939, when he caught 30 passes. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1963.

He played eight seasons with the Chicago Bears, interrupted by three years as a pilot in World War II, during which he flew 30 missions over Germany and won the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters.

Mr. Kavanaugh still holds or shares four Bears records: most career touchdown receptions (50), most single-season touchdown receptions (13), most yards per reception in a career (22.4), and most yards per reception in a season (25.6).

Mr. Kavanaugh leaves Ann, his wife of 64 years; a son, Ken; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Funeral arrangements were incomplete yesterday.

SEARCH THE ARCHIVES