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John Deely

1942 - 04 Obituary Condolences
John Deely Obituary
John Deely, of Latrobe, passed away Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017, in Greensburg. With his passing, the world has lost one of its keenest philosophical minds. Born on April 26, 1942, in Chicago, Ill., Deely was educated at the Aquinas Institute School of Philosophy, River Forest, Ill., receiving a Ph.D. in 1967. After briefly holding several academic posts, John's first major career accomplishment was his work for Mortimer Adler at the Institute for Philosophical Research (1969 to 1974). After that he went on to hold numerous posts nationally and internationally, most recently having held the Rudman Chair in Philosophy (2007 to 2015) at the Center for Thomistic Studies at the University of St. Thomas, Houston, Texas (1999 to 2015) and Philosopher in Residence at St. Vincent College and Seminary (2015 to 2016). John was a Fulbright scholar-professor in Brazil (1988 to 1989), Mexico (1994 to 1995) and Bulgaria (2005); he was also a visiting scholar-professor at University of Helinski in Finland and at Tartu University in Estonia. His books, more than 30 in number, are complemented by more than 200 articles and a number of book series that he edited. His magna opera are his bilingual edition of John Poinsot's Tractatus de signis, which received the featured book review in the New York Times (Easter, 1986), and The Four Ages of Understanding (2001), a tome presenting a full-scale demonstration of the centrality of the theory of signs to the history of philosophy, thereby establishing a semiotic-philosophical perspective for the 21st century. As a philosopher, John developed this prospective semiotic viewpoint in the fertile soil of the Catholic intellectual tradition. The influence of Jacques Maritain was immense not only in John's professional life but also deeply within his personal life. His most treasured photograph was a picture of a very young John with Maritain himself. John was among the founding members of the American Maritain Association, of which he remained a devoted member throughout his life. Most importantly, John met his wife, Brooke Williams Deely, herself a noted Maritain scholar, at a meeting of the American Maritain Association. Throughout their married life, John and Brooke remained close collaborators in John's philosophical work. Brooke's devotion to John's vocation as a philosopher is a moving testimony to a wife's deep and mature love. John's great discovery of the works of John Poinsot (also known as John of St. Thomas) as an explicit link between Baroque Thomism and the current emerging worldview of semiotics is his seminal legacy, a legacy that ties John's efforts not only to the work of semioticians such as C.S. Peirce and Thomas Sebeok but also to the historic Benedictine Order. Indeed, the Abbey of Solemnes is the publisher of the critical edition of Poinsot's writings. John's move to St. Vincent joined together his devotion to Dominican scholasticism and the ancient Benedictine order, thereby paralleling the intellectual-spiritual union of these orders in the lives of St. Thomas Aquinas and Jacques Maritain, himself a Benedictine oblate for whom Poinsot was the "(Thomistic) commentator with whom (Maritain) fell in love." Though aware of his own philosophical accomplishments, John did not desire to have his life trumpeted in a grand, eulogistic manner. When recently asked whom he would like to be his eulogist, he conceded only slight ground to the request - he desired his eulogist to be his faithful canine companion, Bruno. John was predeceased by his parents, William and Claire Deely; his brother, Patrick Deely; and his son, Matthew Deely. He is survived by his siblings, Raymond Deely, of Mallorca, Spain, William Deely, of Townsend, Del., Rita Case, of Rio Rancho, N.M., and Delores Black, of Daytona Beach Shores, Fla. He also leaves behind his wife, Brooke Williams Deely, of Latrobe, and their loyal rescue dogs, Bella and Bruno.
There will be no public visitations. A memorial Mass will be held at a later date. Arrangements are being handled by the JOHN J. LOPATICH FUNERAL HOME INC., 601 Weldon St., Latrobe, PA 15650.
In lieu of flowers, one may donate to the John Deely Endowed Chair in Philosophy at St. Vincent College, Latrobe. To sign online guestbook, send condolences or to view detailed obituary information, please visit www.lopatich.com.
Published in Greensburg Tribune Review from Jan. 12 to Jan. 13, 2017
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