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Let us pray in thanksgiving for the life of Fr. David J. Stagaman, SJ, who died on August 9, 2015, at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Pontiac, Mich. He was 80 years old, a Jesuit for nearly 62 years, and a priest for 49 years.
Dave was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on July 29, 1935. He graduated from St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati before entering the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus on August 8, 1953 at Milford, Ohio. Dave was ordained a priest on June 9, 1966 at Bellarmine School of Theology in North Aurora, Ill., and professed final vows on February 2, 1976, at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley (JSTB) in Berkeley, Calif.
As a Jesuit, he earned a bachelor's degree in Latin and English (1958) and a master's degree in philosophy (1967) from Loyola University Chicago. He also earned a Licentiate in Philosophy from West Baden College in Indiana (1960) and a Licentiate Degree of Sacred Theology from Bellarmine School of Theology (1967). Dave obtained a PhD in theology from the Institut Catholique de Paris in 1975.
Dave spent most of his life working in higher education. During his regency he taught mathematics at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati. After his Jesuit studies, he spent 30 years at JSTB. There, he taught systematic theology as an assistant professor (1972-1983) and an associate professor (1983-2002) before serving as dean (1987-1996), acting rector during the 32nd General Congregation (December 1974 - March 1975), and acting president (1995-1996).
After a sabbatical, Dave moved to Chicago, where he spent nine years at Loyola University Chicago. He was a professor of theology (2002-2011), chair of the Theology Department (2002-2006), rector (2004-2006), and academic dean for and acting director of the Jesuit First Studies Program (2009-2011). In 2011 Dave moved to Colombiere Center in Clarkston, Mich., to care for his health.
Dave was a very fine theologian, learned and marked by lucid and nuanced thought. He once described himself as a theological bricoleur, or a theological "handyman" who gave his particular attention to troublesome theological issues and brought some clarity and resolution to them. He was always worth listening to.