August 31, 2012

John Daly, S.J.

By John Kissell

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When John Daly, S.J., was sent to South Korea in 1961 as a young Jesuit and professor of English, he began what would become his life’s work: building relationships between Asia, especially South Korea, and the United States. Daly, who spent some of his final years working at Loyola Marymount University, died in Wauwatosa, Wis., on Dec. 28, 2011, at the age of 88.

Daly came to LMU in 1995, when he founded the Center for Asian Business. Since then, the center has grown to include three faculty summer research fellowships, the “Exploring Asia Cultures” study abroad course, the Y.B. Min Lecture Series and the John P. Daly, S.J., Summer Scholarships for Cultural Immersion in South Korea. Daly’s talent was bringing people of diverse backgrounds together. To focus on building relationships, he insisted that the summer scholarships go not to students of Korean descent but to others less familiar with the country. When he hosted Korean visitors to the United States, he often took them to his family’s farm in Iowa, to better show them the American heartland.

Before retiring from LMU in 2010, Daly recruited Tom Plate, a former editor of the Los Angeles Times editorial page, who has written extensively about Asian leaders. “Daly probably knew as much about East Asia as the average U.S. assistant secretary of state,” said Plate, who teaches at LMU. “That’s because his primary focus of concern, the Koreas, can be thought of as a hub with the spokes being all the East Asian big powers — Russia, China and Japan.”

Daly’s knowledge of Korea was drawn from years of service at Sogang University, a Jesuit university in Seoul. He arrived there in 1961, shortly after Sogang opened in 1960. Daly served as its second president, from 1963–75. He was also superior of the university’s Jesuit community for 10 years. Born in Anamosa, Iowa, Daly was ordained in 1956 and made his final vows in 1961.