Milton Cavana

Milton Cavana
Hometown (Last School)
Iowa Falls, IA
September 23, 1909

Milton Cavana, nicknamed “Bud,” was born Milton James Cavana on September 23, 1909, in Hardin Township (Iowa Falls), Iowa to Mabel and William Cavana.  His father was from New York and was a salesman in a second-hand store.  His mother was a dressmaker.  His nickname came about because his little sister had difficulty saying “brother” and made it saying “Bruddy” which turned into “Bud.” 

On August 17, 1929, Cavana was presented with the Red Cross honorable service and rescue award in recognition of his good work while a substitute lifeguard hero when he recovered a lad who had sunk for the third time and resuscitated him. He had participated in 24 rescues from drowning during his work as a lifeguard. The medal awarded Cavana by the American Red Cross is the highest honor that can be conferred upon a man or a woman in connection with first aid and life-saving work.

Cavana was a great all-around athlete playing football, basketball, and track for Kentucky.  He played basketball in 1929-30 under coach Maurer and he was a member of the first basketball team coached by Adolph Rupp in 1930-31 but only saw action in one game.  He earned varsity football letters at UK for 1929, ’30, and ’31 playing right/left end and kicker, and received honorable mention for the All-Southern team in 1930.  He also lettered in track throwing the javelin and running the high hurdles in 1929, ’30, and ’31.  He was also a member of the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity.  

He graduated from Kentucky with a Bachelor of Arts degree on January 29, 1932.

He married Ramona Iliff in Winchester, Kentucky on May 11, 1931. She died, at the age of 27, from illness nearly 8 years later in March of 1939.

He married Jayne Brunson on July 15, 1939, in Charlestown, Indiana.

Cavana enlisted in the Army in September of 1942 to support the war effort but was discharged several months later due to a knee injury from his college playing days.

Coach M.J Cavana Takes Life at HomeThe Kentucky Post and Times Star (September 14, 1959)

Milton (Bud) Cavana, 50, affectionately known as “coach” to thousands of northern Kentucky boys, ended his life while seated in his auto in
the garage at his home Sunday night.

Dr. Donald M. Stevens, deputy Campbell County coroner, gave a verdict of suicide.  He said Mr. Cavana shot himself in the right side of the head with a .22-caliber rifle. The bullet came out the left side.

The coroner said the popular sports figure had been in poor health for the past several months.

Mr. Cavana was found by his wife, Jane, who had gone to summon him for the evening meal.  He was slumped in the front of his car. The rifle lay beside him.

Bellevue Patrolmen George Mogge and Irvin Brocker said Mr. Cavana had taken his older son, Jimmy, to a local bowling alley and had returned home shortly before he shot himself.

The victim was the athletic director and physical education teacher at Newport Junior High School since 1938. He also was swimming instructor at Newport High School for 20 years. Many of his students attained local fame and more than a few became nationally known.

Mr. Cavana was head football coach for one year a Newport High School and during his college career at the University of Kentucky played end for the Big Blue. 

Besides his wife and son Jimmy, he also leaves another son, Jeffrey, 2.

He also leaves two sisters Mrs. Mirabel Rusher, Washington, D. C., and Mrs. Ruth Slakes, Tallahassee, Fla.

Services will be held at 2 p. m. Wednesday at the Dobbling Funeral Home, Bellevue, followed by burial in Evergreen Cemetery. Friends may call at the funeral horn from 4 to 9 p. m. Tuesday.

Obituary – Obituaries, The Kentucky Alumnus Magazine (November 1, 1959)

MILTON J. (BUD) CAVANA, ’32, was found fatally wounded in his car at his home in Bellevue on Sept. 13. Known well as a swimming instructor, he was for 20 years athletic director and physical education teacher at Newport Junior high school. He earned varsity football letters at UK in ’29, ’30 and ’31.

Sports Corner by Johnny Nelson Jr. The Bradford (Pa) Era (July 11, 1950)

M.J. “Bud” Cavana, manager of Recreation Park swimming pool, has had something of a checkered athletic career while following a sports trail that has carried him from Iowa to Florida and back to Kentucky and Bradford.

In some 25 years of association with sports, Cavana has included such choice trophies as the Iowa state diving championship, selection at end on the All-Southern Collegiate football team and the rare record of varsity letters at three different colleges.

To get in on the Cavana story from the beginning, Bud was born in Iowa Falls, Iowa and was in football, basketball and track for his high school. This was back in the days of the center jump and low scores in basketball. Bud recalls that his school once won a game by a 3-2 score.

Cavana moved on to Iowa State College for a year and at that time (1928) won the diving championship of the state of Iowa. He shifted his collegiate association to Iowa State Teachers, played some more football and then decided he wanted to study at the University of Kentucky.

While at Kentucky he was a member of the first basketball team coached by the famed Adolph Rupp, who since has made Kentucky a national champion. He also was an end for three years on Kentucky football teams and was undefeated as a javelin thrower in the Southern Conference.

A seven-year coaching stretch followed at Bellevue High School in Kentucky and six years ago he accepted a position on the coaching staff at Newport High School.

Bud was in Florida for one year to coach at Vero Beach (Fl) High School and helped to produce an undefeated football team that won the state championship. Then it was back to Newport again, a position he now shares with his Bradford post in the summer.

In 13 years of coaching football, basketball and track at two Kentucky high schools, Cavana has had a hand in turning out four state championship teams, eight conference winners and 23 sectional title holders.

Bud and Mrs. Cavana both are qualified Red Cross life saving instructors and their five-year-old son has been swimming and diving since he was two.

Cavana weighs in at 190 pounds today but was pressed to reach 166 while a teammate of Shipwreck Kelly at Kentucky. Incidentally, he did all the drop-kicking for Kentucky.

Now about that “Bud” business. The right name is Milton James Cavana but a kid sister had trouble with “brother” and so today we have “Bud” Cavana as manager of the Recreation Park pool.