A Gentle, Talented Soul
Joseph F. Lanigan—a professor in the Department of Philosophy and a tutor in the Integral Program for 46 years—was known as a curious, gentle, talented soul. He was a scholar of Plato, with a particular focus on the Parmenides, the subject of his note-worthy metaphysics course that made particular demands of his students. In the Integral Program his subjects ranged from Euclidean geometry to ancient Greek.
Lanigan was born in New York City on July 5, 1923, and spent his childhood there and in Rhode Island and New Hampshire. He earned his bachelor's degree in English in 1944 at the University of Notre Dame, where he also received his Ph.D. in philosophy in 1956. But before completing graduate school, he spent a memorable time in Nevada City, Calif. working with a friend at a printing press, then called Berliner & Lanigan. His experiences in Gold Country yielded many wry stories as years went by.
After finishing his doctorate, Lanigan taught briefly at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota in Winona, Minn., and then came to Saint Mary's in California in 1959, where he spent the rest of his long, exemplary career until retiring in 2005. He had never imagined retiring from a teaching career he loved, but it afforded him time to continue his active scholarship.
A devoted educator, Lanigan was named Saint Mary's Professor of the Year in 1998. He and his wife Mary-Delia were married for 51 years, and together they raised four children and sometimes took in students at their Berkeley home.
Professor Lanigan was a devout Catholic and during his long career at Saint Mary's attended daily mass in the Chapel. He died peacefully in his sleep on the morning of Wednesday, January 21, at the age of 92. Generations of students received the blessings of his many gifts.