Yale '62 - Obituaries - Robert E. Daggy

Robert E. Daggy

Born: July 28, 1940
Died: December 15, 1997

Born in New Castle, Indiana, Bob prepared at New Castle High School. He was a history major, a ranking scholar and on the Dean's List. A member of Berkeley, Bob was on scholarship all four years. He served on the Berkeley Council and was a member of the Berkeley Players, and the Yale Film Society.

Following graduation he obtained his M.A. at Columbia. He also worked at Yale as an archivist in Yale memorabilia. He earned his Ph.D. at University of Wisconsin in Madison in 1971. His thesis was Measures for Yalensia: Naphtali Daggett and Yale College, 1766-1778. He then taught at Wisconsin and the University of Louisville before joining the Thomas Merton Studies Center at Bellarmine College in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1974.

Bob rose to become Director of the Thomas Merton Studies Center and Chief of Research for the Merton Legacy Trust. In 1987 he founded the International Thomas Merton Society to help non-scholars interested in the renowned Catholic Trappist monk learn more about him. Merton, a Trappist monk at the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani near Bardstown, was lauded for his writings, which addressed such issues as ecumenism and religious renewal, the Vietnam War, ecology, genocide and the Third World.

Although not himself a Catholic, Bob was fascinated with Merton because Merton had such insight into the world's problems while still living a monastic lifestyle. "He was able to withdraw from the world, yet be so profoundly involved in it," he told the Louisville Courier-Journal in 1987. Merton was accidentally electrocuted in 1968 while visiting Bangkok, Thailand.

In 1989, Bob edited and wrote the introduction for "Monks Pond: Thomas Merton's Little Magazine." The Louisville Courier-Journal's review described his book as "a rich and vital treasure from the Merton legacy." He also edited The Alaskan Journal of Thomas Merton; Introductions East and West: The Foreign Prefaces of Thomas Merton; The Road of Joy: The Letters of Thomas Merton to New and Old Friends; and the fifth volume of Merton's private journals, Dancing in the Waters of Life; and co-edited Thomas Merton: A Comprehensive Bibliography.

Bob also helped Bellarmine obtain a 373-year-old document signed by the 17th century Italian scholar Cardinal Robert Bellarmine, for whom the college is named.

He was a former board member of the Thomas Merton Center Foundation and a member of Louisville Bridge Association, of which he served as president, and a member of the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels.

Bob never married and was survived by his sisters Nancy D. Kuester and Joan D. Webb, five nieces and nephews and six great-nieces and -nephews. He died of a rare blood disease called systemic megacytosis.

In a memorial tribute his colleagues celebrated his zest for life and the life he discovered through Merton: "…he oversaw the vast growth in Merton studies which led to Merton's recognition as one of the great spiritual writers of this century. He became an international force in the Merton world through his own writings, the books he edited, those scholars he encouraged and guided, and through the love and friendship he brought to all those interested in Thomas Merton."