(October 1928 - August 1984)
from a tribute by Gus Nolan in Br. Joseph Belangers Marist
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.
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. Johns 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 Masters Degree
-- one in Community Psychology -- passed by the college and approved
by the State of New York.
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.
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
the early 1980s 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.