Obituaries

The Catholic Historical Review, July 2006 | Go to article overview

Obituaries


Dr. William M. Daly, professor of medieval history at Boston College from 1947 to 1986, died on October 11, 2005 at his home in Natick, Massachusetts. He was born in western Massachusetts in West Stockbridge on December 27, 1920. He graduated from Boston CoEege in 1942. From 1942 to 1946 he served in the United States Army Air Corps. A navigator with twenty-one missions on B-17 bombers with the 429th Squadron, second Bombardment group, 15thAir Force from its base at Amendola near Foggia, Italy, Bill's wartime experiences remained vivid to him all his life. He was wounded during his first mission and believed that he was saved by the Tuskegee Airmen. On October 4, 1944 his plane was shot down over Munich. He was one of only three airmen to escape the doomed plane.With typical humility and understatement, he characterized the interrogation that foEowed capture as "certainly not the very happiest 24 hours I ever spent." In winter of 1944-45 he was in a prisoner-of-war camp-Stalag Luft III. After he was released, he was assigned to the Pentagon, where he worked for the War Crimes Commission that reviewed courts-martial cases and recommended clemency reviews where circumstances indicated.

Folowing military service,William DaIy began to teach at Boston College in 1947. He received his PhD at Brown University in 1955 under the direction Professor Barnaby C. Keeney. His dissertation was on "The Concept of Christendom in the Western Crusade Chronicles of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries." He kept his scholarly interest in the idea of Christendom ever after. His publications include "Christian Fraternity, the Crusaders, and the security of Constantinople, 1097-1204:The Precarious Survival of an Ideal,"Mediaeval Studies 22 (I960), pp. 43-91; "Caesarius of Aries: A Precursor of Medieval Christendom," Tradttto 26 (1970), pp. 1-28; "St. Peter, an Architect of the Carolingian Empire," Studies in Medieval Culture IV. 1 (1973), pp.55-69; " Christianitas Eclipses Romanitas in the Life of Sidonius," Religion, Culture and Society in the Early Middle Ages: Studies in Honor of Richard E. Sullivan (1987), pp. 7-26;"Clovis: How Barbaric, How Pagan?" Speculum 69 (1994), pp. 619-664; and "An Adverse Consensus Questioned: Does Sidonius's Eucharisticon (Carmen XVI) Show that He was ScripturaEy Naïve?" Tradttto 55 (2000), pp. 19-71. Folio wing his retirement in 1986, he pursued his interest in the emergence of the notion of Christendom (Christianitas). Illness prevented him from bringing that book to completion. Bill's wife, Katie (Catherine McCarthy Daly), arranged to give many of his research materials and personal papers to the Burns Library at Boston College.

When I was an undergraduate at Boston College (1961-1965) I met Bill in a history class. We soon discovered that we were both born in Western Massachusetts and that we had a love of medieval history. Bill was an excellent teacher. He was a kind, gentle man with a rich sense of humor and a ready smile. He was demanding in his courses. He took a personal interest in many students, including me. I remember fondly dinner at his home with his wife Katie and Professor Sam Miller, who taught the history of the Reformation. Bill loved lively conversation and was especially interested in things Catholic. I still remember that at dinner we talked, among other topics, about the movement to celebrate Mass in English. Bill was also politically active as an early member of Americans for Democratic Action, as well as at Boston College, where he participated in the formation of a chapter of the American Association of University Professors at Boston College. He and his wife were active members of the Natick Fair Housing Committee in the 1960's.

Bill leaves behind his wife Catherine, two sons, Michael of Manlius, New York and William F. of Leicester, Massachusetts, one daughter, Patricia of Norfolk, Connecticut, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

(I want to thank Dr. …

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