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Former Canton coach and athletic director dies in bicycle accident

Former Canton High athletic director Linda Cavanaugh has passed away.

Linda Cavanaugh, the former athletic director at Canton High and a former coach at Avon High and St. Paul, died in October in a bicycling accident in Maine.

Cavanaugh, 67, was riding her bicycle home from work at St. Andrews Village in Boothbay, Maine, where she was a certified nursing assistant at the assisted living facility. She collided with a car on October 4 and was fatally injured.

Cavanaugh graduated from Wesleyan and was a teacher and coach at St. Paul in Bristol before coming to Canton.

In Canton, she was coach of the the girls cross country team for seven seasons (1995-99, 2009-10). The Warriors finished second twice in Class S in 1995 and 1996 and finished in the top five during her first four seasons. She was also the head coach of Canton boys cross country team in 1998 and Avon’s girls outdoor track team in 1997.

She stepped down from coaching when she became the athletic director at Canton for six years from 1999 through 2005.

Among the coaches that she helped hire was Tim O’Donnell in 2001, who has led the Warriors to league and state championships in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track, and Eric Deegan in 2003, who coached the boys basketball team for 12 years. Deegan led the Warriors to seven straight Class S tournament berths — a program record at the time.

Cavanaugh helped establish the new outdoor track and field program in 2005 — her final year as AD. And she was an advocate for the football program, exploring options to re-establish a program that had shut down in 1964. A junior varsity team was established in 2006 and that eventually led the return of the varsity program in 2007.

After stepping away from administrative work, she returned to coaching in Canton, assisting O’Donnell with the cross country program for several years.

Cavanaugh graduated from Trinity College in Burlington, Vermont and Wesleyan in Middletown. She also worked as a CNA (certified nursing assistant). The majority of her career was as an English and Spanish teacher.

She is survived by her wife, Lois-Jean Berry; her sister, Susan Elmore; and her brother, Robert Cavanaugh and his wife Connie. She is also survived by many cousins, nieces, nephews and two aunts. She was predeceased by her father, mother and two brothers.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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