President Emeritus J. Earl Danieley passed away Tuesday at the age of 92, with the community invited to pay their respects in the Lumen Numen Pavilion on Friday.
Throughout the afternoon on Friday, a stream of people impacted by the life of President Emeritus J. Earl Danieley stopped by the Numen Lumen Pavilion to pay their respects to a man who immersed himself in Elon University for more than seven decades.
Dr. Danieley passed away Nov. 29 at the age of 92. His body was lying in state within the pavilion’s Sacred Space to offer the people he had touched, people across multiple generations, an opportunity to honor his life and his memory. Fittingly, Danieley lay in a casket made out of two-inch-thick oak with a custom-made maroon velvet interior, and the arrangement of matching red roses that sat on top included oak leaves. Dr. Danieley was an avid gardener with a specialty in raising roses.
Students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the broader Elon community signed guest books and filled notecards to Danieley’s family as they entered the McBride Gathering Space. Some bowed their heads and offered silent prayers as they stood in the Sacred Space. Others placed their hands briefly on the casket or lit candles in remembrance of a man who served as professor, president, fundraiser and cheerleader for Elon after graduating from the university in 1946.
Tres McMichael ’19 stopped into the Sacred Space to pay his respects, and said Danieley “radiated” pride about Elon and its students. It was a pride that makes all students think about Elon as home, he said. “Whenever I saw him, he had a smile,” McMichael said. “I think he was carrying the spirit of Elon with him at all times.”
Visitors shared stories about Danieley after paying their respects, recounting his sharp memory and mind for names, places and dates, and his ever-present smile. “It’s a time when people might offer a prayer for him and the repose of his soul, and for his family and the grief they are experiencing,” said the Rev. Jan Fuller, university chaplain. “I think it offers us a chance to reflect on the meaning of our own lives, and the legacy we would want to leave.”
One of those was Jim Merritt, who said he attended grade school with Danieley, and recalls seeing him as a school-age boy sitting under an oak tree, studying. The two would continue to bump into each other throughout their lives, said Merritt, who still lives in Alamance County.
“He was a person that everybody has as a friend,” Merritt said. “I don’t guess he ever had an enemy.”