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Kevin C. Lavelle ’80

November 15, 2019, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, of pancreatic cancer.

Kevin was born in Youngstown, Ohio, where his father, Joseph P. Lavelle, was completing his medical residency as an obstetrician-gynecologist. When a snowstorm prevented other doctors from reaching the hospital, Joseph delivered Kevin himself. The family moved to San Francisco, where Kevin roved his Richmond neighborhood, just blocks from Golden Gate Park, in a pair of square-toed cowboy boots and a holster. When he was four, his mother died after a short illness. His father remarried and the family eventually grew to nine children and moved to Burlingame.

After graduating from Serra High School, Kevin enrolled at California State University, Chico. At the urging of his college mentor, he transferred to Reed. Majoring in philosophy, he wrote his thesis, “The Function of Ideals in a Moral System,” advised by Prof. William Peck [philosophy 1961–2002]. At Reed, he met his first wife, Stacey Goodwin ’83, and they moved to Albuquerque to attend graduate school at the University of New Mexico, marrying the year after Kevin completed his master’s degree in philosophy. The couple moved to Santa Fe, where their daughter Sarah was born. The marriage ended in divorce in 2004. Kevin married Nancy Jane Broderdorp, who died of breast cancer in 2010.

His third wife, Rachel, wrote to him via an internet dating site in 2013. After a year of visiting each other cross-country, she moved to Santa Fe and they were married in 2016.

Until he was forced into retirement by his illness in 2018, Kevin taught philosophy for more than 25 years at the Albuquerque campus of Central New Mexico Community College and at Santa Fe Community College. He loved classroom teaching but also taught online. He introduced countless students to the basics of logical and critical thinking, ancient and modern philosophy, and biomedical and business ethics.

Kevin was passionate about democratic politics and the welfare of ordinary citizens, including his students. He read several blogs and newspaper websites daily and was a frequent participant in many online political discussions. An avid explorer of federal and Native American lands, he mapped out trips and camping with friends along rarely traveled routes west and north into Canada and Alaska. His international travels began with an SFCC-organized trip to Greece in 2013.

He is survived by Rachel Thompson, his wife of three years, and his daughter, Sarah Lavelle.

Appeared in Reed magazine: March 2020

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