School 14

James Edward Cavalier

January 5, 2021



Age 93, of Sewickley, PA, passed away on January 5, 2021.

Jim Cavalier, the founding headmaster of Sewickley Academy’s Senior School, passed away due to complications from Covid-19.  He was born in Pittsburgh on Aug. 7, 1927; 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, Florida, 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 by R.D. Copeland Funeral Home in Sewickley.  Memorial contributions may be made to The James E. Cavalier Scholarship Fund at Sewickley Academy, or in Jim’s memory to the Sewickley Valley YMCA, 625 Blackburn Rd, Sewickley, PA 15143 or Sewickley Public Library, 500 Thorn Street, Sewickley, PA 15143.

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The James E. Cavalier Scholarship Fund at Sewickley Academy

Sewickley Public Library
Sewickley PA 15143

Sewickley Valley YMCA
625 Blackburn Rd, Sewickley PA 15143

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