Robert L. Daly ’47

My father Bob Daley (Kroks of 1947) definitely had some favorite topics of conversation, chief among them anything to do with language and linguistics, his courtship of my mother and their early years together, the Boston Red Sox, and perhaps most of all the years he spent at Harvard as a resident of Lowell House, a member of the Owl Club, the Hasty Pudding Club (when he had a supporting role in the show alongside Jack Lemmon), and the Harvard Krokodiloes.  He just missed being a part of the “founding four” Kroks, but was invited to join the group a few months later (if I understand the story correctly from founder David Binger) to provide some additional heft to the bass section, and I assume (as a bit of a ham) his natural stage presence was also seen as an asset. 

 

Like many of his Harvard peers, my father was very much the product of a “proper” (said without pronouncing the “r”) Boston upbringing.  He was raised in Dedham and then graduated from Milton Academy in 1942 at only 16.  He was academically advanced, but socially was very much his age and had somewhat of a mischievous, even devilish streak from what I understand, so my grandmother (southern-belle-turned-Boston-Grande-Dame Louisa “Weezie” Daley) wisely insisted that he complete a “finishing” year at Phillips Academy Andover before starting at Harvard in the fall of 1943.  Turning 18 in February of 1944, his studies were interrupted in 1945 when he joined the Navy as an officer and saw brief service in China as World War Two drew to a close.

 

After Harvard, he worked for a few years at investment firm Estabrook & Co., and then as the Korean conflict broke out at the end of the decade, he was recalled to active duty as a Naval Air Intelligence Officer, serving on an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean.  With the ship located primarily off the coast of France and therefore well removed from the fierce battles raging on the Korean Peninsula, there apparently was time for him to stage and star in an on-board production of “Mr. Roberts” during his time there.  With no women yet serving on board Navy ships, and with my father already speaking fluent French and Italian at this time, he was tapped to coordinate the outreach to some local madamoiselles to play the female roles in the production.  One of these ladies and her family are still family friends of ours today.   

 

After returning home, he found his true calling as a teacher of foreign languages (Latin, French, Italian, and Ancient Greek) at Milton Academy, where he would remain for more than 30 years until his death in 1984 (due to complications from two rounds of lung cancer over a 20 year period), taking a brief sabbatical to earn a Masters in Linguistics from Harvard in 1967.  He married my mother (like his mother, a southern belle, and also one with a Masters Degree in Vocal Performance who had been a member of the New York City Opera chorus) in 1960, and my sister Louisa and I came along soon thereafter, growing up as “faculty brats” who had the benefit of attending Milton Academy tuition-free for all 13 years (K to 12).  In addition to a few Red Sox games, I also remember attending a few Kroks concerts in Sanders with him, and recall that he never missed the opportunity to head up on stage for Johnny O’Connor.

 

My life has followed a very different path from my father’s, but I did have the good fortune to follow him to Harvard, the Owl Club, the Hasty Pudding, and finally (after my third audition!) – the Kroks.  He died in February of my sophomore year – so I was not yet a Krok, but I had just been cast in that year’s Hasty Pudding Theatricals production (Jungle Belles) which I remember him being quite pleased about.  When I did finally make it into the Kroks for my senior year, he was no longer with us, but the first time we performed Johnny O’Connor and called the alums onto the stage, I felt him there on stage with all of us, and he was loving every minute of it.

 

– Brad Daley ‘86

 

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