Daniel Conway Dagit, 90, formerly of Haverford, one in a line of liturgical architects dating back to the 1880s, died Sunday, Dec. 9, of dementia at Devon Senior Living.
He had lived in Phoenixville for more than two decades.
Mr. Dagit was a third-generation architect with Dagit Associates in King of Prussia. His family said he had “a unique and special relationship with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia” and was proud of his work for Catholic churches and universities, including Villanova, Immaculata, St. Joseph’s, and Neumann.
He designed facilities at the University of Pennsylvania, and school buildings at Villa Maria and Merion Mercy Academies. He also was the architect for Centennial Hall at the Haverford School.
Mr. Dagit was descended from Henry D. Dagit, a leading architect in the field of Catholic church and rectory design in the late 1800s, according to an online history of Philadelphia buildings. In 1888, he opened his own firm, Henry D. Dagit & Sons.
Henry’s Dagit’s career in design was secured when he was appointed architect for the Diocese of Trenton in 1898.
“This appointment lasted for 10 years and provided both the work and reputation which would ensure him of success in the Philadelphia area,” the history says. One success was the Byzantine Revival St. Francis de Sales Church at 47th Street and Springfield Avenue in Philadelphia, built from 1907 to 1911.
After a disagreement, Henry’s son Albert F. Dagit Sr. broke from the family firm in 1959 to form his own company, Dagit Associates. The practice was continued by Mr. Dagit and his brother Albert F. Dagit Jr.
Mr. Dagit’s daughter, Rosemary, said each generation had its own flavor of architecture. “Henry’s work was beautiful, but traditional in style,” she said. “In addition to being an architect, Albert Sr. was an artist and oil painter, so his buildings have a more artistic flavor.
“My father, Daniel, took everything that his dad did and made it functional. His gift was to integrate form and function,” his daughter said.
Born in Overbrook, Mr. Dagit grew up in Wynnewood and as a youth hauled ice and worked as a lifeguard on the beach in Avalon, N.J. He graduated from Lower Merion High School. He graduated from Villanova in 1951, and while there worked as a draftsman at Henry D. Dagit & Sons. He joined the Marine Corps in 1951 and was honorably discharged in 1953 with the rank of first lieutenant.
Mr. Dagit was a hard worker, but he also knew how to have fun. An avid golfer and fisherman, he loved boating. His favorite boat was called Divots. He enjoyed riding horses, and was a member of the Whitford Hunt Club and a longtime member of the Philadelphia and Phoenixville Country Clubs.
Daniel C. Dagit Jr. said his father was “an optimist and happy person, which is unique. He could give a course in how to be satisfied with the world.”
Mr. Dagit married Suzanne Walsh Dagit, with whom he had five children. She died in 1993. He later married Virginia Davis Dagit, who survives.
In addition to his wife, son, and daughter, he is survived by children Margaret Mary Kershner, Mary Grace Dagit Smith, and Timothy Francis Gallagher Dagit; stepdaughter Jennifer Davis Berlinger and stepson Randy Davis; 11 grandchildren; four step-grandchildren; and two sisters.
A visitation starting at 9 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 13, at St. John Vianney Church, 350 Conshohocken State Rd., Gladwyne, will be followed by a 10 a.m. Funeral Mass. Interment will be private.