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Loyola loses beloved philosophy professor Fr. Boileau

January 28, 2011

The Loyola University New Orleans community is sad to share the news that the Rev. David A. Boileau, Ph.D., professor emeritus and former chair of the philosophy department, passed away on Monday morning following a long illness. Visitation will be at 9 a.m. Saturday at Mater Dolorosa Catholic Church, 1226 Carrollton Ave., followed by a Funeral Mass at 11 a.m. He was 80 years old.

Boileau received his undergraduate degree from St. Bonaventure University in New York in 1952. After graduating in 1956 from St. John’s Seminary in Little Rock, Ark., Boileau received his doctorate in 1961 from the Higher Institute of Philosophy of the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, before joining Loyola’s philosophy department in 1970. Over the next 38 years, the six-foot-seven Boileau would make a significant impact on his new home and on the lives of thousands of Loyola students. To view more pictures from Boileau's time at Loyola, as well as tributes from friends and former students, visit Loyola's Facebook page.

Board of Trustees member Dr. Virginia Angelico-Tatum ’75 was a student at Loyola when she first encountered Boileau through working for him at the Institute for Human Relations, now known as the Twomey Center for Peace Through Justice.

“He was a larger-than-life figure, not just in stature, but in his heart and personality,” said Angelico-Tatum. “He was instrumental in getting me a work-study job that helped pay tuition and always had extra work for me to do that helped supplement what my loans and work study didn’t cover. He felt it was his duty to do good and help people. He was revered and will be greatly missed.”

Erin Mulholland ’03 became good friends with Fr. Boileau through her sorority, Delta Gamma, for which Boileau served as faculty adviser.

“He was very protective of us and we knew that he was always just a phone call away if we needed help or his advice,” said Mulholland. “He also had a really great, fun sense of humor. At first you really don’t know what to make of it, but once you get to know him, you love him.”

Loyola President Emeritus Rev. James C. Carter, S.J., Ph.D., knew Boileau for more than 30 years and says the priest brought energy to the classroom that students couldn’t get enough of.

“The students absolutely loved him,” said Carter. “When he walked into a room, you knew he was there. He had that type of personality that drew students into his classrooms, which were always packed.”

One of those students who had the ‘Boileau experience’ is current Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Laragy ’91, J.D. ’94.

“It’s been nearly 20 years since I took ‘Making Moral Decisions’ with Fr. Boileau, but the experience remains as fresh in my mind as if it were yesterday,” he said. “He had a personality that was as big as his six-foot-seven frame. He was an immensely popular teacher and you looked forward to class every day because you never knew what he was going to do. He would not only say or do things to get and keep your attention, but he also challenged you to understand how the material he was teaching related to you personally. The classes were so intense, but entertaining, that you found yourself thinking about it hours later. Loyola has lost a great one.”

A longtime supporter of Wolfpack Athletics, Boileau served as the department's faculty representative for many years. He was also an instrumental figure in the return of intercollegiate sports to campus in 1991 after a 20-year hiatus.

"Fr. Boileau was one of the leaders in the return of athletics to Loyola,” said Brett Simpson, associate athletic director. “But more importantly, he was a teacher, mentor and friend to all of our student athletes and coaches. We are all blessed to have had him touch our lives."

Boileau was also known as an outspoken supporter of worker’s rights and for years was involved in local and national labor union issues. In addition to lecturing throughout the United States, Boileau edited the book, “Catholic Social Teaching: An Historical Perspective,” which examines the relationship between employee and employer in a continually changing economic landscape. He was also author of “Cardinal Mercier: A Memoir,” and “The Algebra of History: Essays on Existential Phenomenology,” and “Principles of Catholic Social Teaching.”

Boileau was preceded in death by his parents, Albert and Catherine Boileau of Kalamazoo, Mich.; brothers Robert and Phillip Boileau; sisters Mary Leeuw and Joan Wilson. He is survived by his sister, Eleanor Coffman of Lewisburg, Tenn., and nine nieces and nephews.

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