(October 1928 - August 1984)

Adapted from a tribute by Gus Nolan in Br. Joseph Belanger’s “Marist All Saints”

Dan Kirk was a dedicated teacher, an exceptional educator. He was a quiet and generous person who labored to change unjust conditions around him. His greatest contribution was in affecting the lives of those he lived with, those he taught, and those he worked for in his comparatively short life of 56 years.

Dan was a member of the Marist Brothers for over twenty years, group of 1945. He graduated from Marist College with a BA in 1950, and went on to St. John’s University in Jamaica, New York, for a Masters degree and for a Doctorate in Psychology. He taught with distinction in several Marist high schools, but the major portion of his career was at Marist College where he was a faculty member for over twenty-five years. His main enterprise there was to institute and consolidate the Psychology Department. He developed the department by careful recruitment of personnel and the establishment of both required and elective courses. He was responsible for pioneering a required internship program in psychology that attracted national attention. Dan introduced graduate education at Marist. In 1972 he succeeded in getting the first Master’s Degree -- one in Community Psychology -- passed by the college and approved by the State of New York.

One colleague uses the example of his mastering the art of skiing as typical of his persistence. He was simply undaunted by the coldness of the weather, the difficulty of a hill, the lateness of the day; he would try and try again until he mastered the moves.

Dan demonstrated special concern for the less fortunate. He was an effective worker for the poor and for those suffering from mental problems. He served on various community boards where he often found himself in the leadership position. He played an early role in bringing attention to those who formed minority groups, either because of race or because of disability. He provided leadership in organizing local housing and good programs for migrant workers. He advised state authorities to release from cruel confinement harmless mildly retarded people into local neighborhoods where they could lead productive, self-satisfying lives. He secured property for the creation of the Dutchess County Mental Health Center. He staged the first Marist College Conference on Retardation in 1974, which has evolved into an annual research conference.

Dan’s concern for people led him to build a home for his elderly parents and himself on the college campus where he could continue his teaching and yet be a presence for his parents. He also cared for his older sister who, after several years serving as a nurse in surgery, had to be permanently institutionalized.

In the early 1980’s Dan Kirk developed a melanoma that eventually led to his death on the 9th of August in 1984. He is remembered each year through the Sabina and Daniel Kirk Psychology Lecture Series named after his parents, and in the Kirk Endowment which he donated to Marist College. The virtues inculcated in the days Dan was with the Brothers -- especially the virtues of humility, simplicity, and modesty -- remained with him and were clearly reflected in his life. They allowed Dan to endure setbacks, denials, and disappointments. He could not accept ostentation and insincerity; he saw them as enemies of truth and humility, virtues rooted in his character.