Francis LaMar Daly


Francis LaMar Daly, known to most as Frank, peacefully passed away on Dec. 12, 2022, at the age of 87, with his family close to his side. 

Frank was born in the middle of the Great Depression in 1935 in New York City. Frank came of age in Washington, D.C., just before the civil rights movement. He was the youngest child of Elizabeth Robinson Daly and Theodore (“Ted)” Daly Sr.

After a time in the service as a U.S. Navy reservist, he pursued his bachelor’s degree. Frank attended the HBCU Howard University in D.C. for a couple of semesters, but graduated from Park’s College at Saint Louis University in 1967 with a B.S. in aeronautics. He was a brother in the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity during his time as an undergraduate.

By this time in his life, Frank had learned to fly, having received training as a naval aviator. Flying was a hobby Frank enjoyed late into his life. He brought his daughters up in Wingding, his single-engine Cessna, to share his love of flight. He piloted aircraft from his 20s until his 70s. His two U.S. patents, filed in 1998, are in the area of aviation training. He was a member of the Dukes County Airport Commission on Martha’s Vineyard for many years.

Frank began his career as a professional engineer at Pratt & Whitney, the aerospace company, and was later hired by the U.S. Army, working as a special project manager. He continued his education while employed with the Army, earning a master’s in business at Florida Institute of Technology, taking courses on the Army base. Frank retired from the U.S. Army as a civilian engineer in 1993.

Frank was a second-degree black belt in tae kwon do, teaching classes in the martial art at Picatinny Army Base. When he was not working out, or competing in tae kwon do matches, he found the time to play pool. He loved billiards, and taught his daughters to put English on the ball. Frank would say, “There are no easy shots in pool.”

Martha’s Vineyard first came into the picture for Frank in the 1970s, when he was in his late 30s. His mom and aunt had come to the Island — Oak Bluffs, in particular — after hearing about the thriving African American resort town. The Island became a preferred getaway spot for fishing. The days of driving up to the Island from New Jersey and sleeping in the van came to an end when Frank was able to purchase a home in Vineyard Haven on Skiff Avenue.

Soon after settling into the house in Vineyard Haven in the late ’70s, Frank met a young Kathleen Radcliffe, whom he was introduced to by a neighbor. The two fell in love, and were married at the old Seamen’s Bethel in Vineyard Haven at the start of the ’80s. He and Kathy had four daughters, Kristen, Courtney, Nichole, and Laura, in the years that followed. The family initially spent winters in New Jersey and summers on the Island, eventually relocating permanently to the Vineyard before the oldest daughter started preschool at the Grace Church in Vineyard Haven. The couple raised their children on the Island, eventually divorcing, though they developed a renewed friendship in the last several years of his life.

Dad enjoyed being a father, and he was good at it. Many trips to Wasque warmly fill his children’s memory. His daughters will never forget visiting Grandma Elizabeth’s house in D.C., Chincoteague Island, Kings Dominion, and the Robinson family reunion trips. Frank taught his daughters to shoot pool, cast a fishing pole, host a Super Bowl party, and drive stick. Early lessons in driving stick, which took place in the yard when the oldest was around age 8, were conducted on a homemade go-cart Dad had welded together, using a lawnmower engine.

Dad was a fan of New England sports teams. Though he supported the Red Sox, Patriots, and Celtics, he was a super-fan for the Martha’s Vineyard men’s high school football team. He was in the stands often, and would ring his big bell every time the Vineyard guys “did something good.” He traveled for away games. His single-engine Cessna, Wingding, was a fantastic way to travel to the Island Cup game when it was hosted on Nantucket every other year, but Frank was known to accept an invitation to travel off-Island in the school bus with the cheer team as well.

After Dad retired from the Army, he started a small business out of his home on Martha’s Vineyard. He was CEO of a one-man engineering business, Daly Engineering. As a professional engineer,. Frank created and signed off on hundreds of septic designs over the years, covering locations all over the Island. Frank drafted his plans by hand, and offered flat-rate pricing. He always bragged that as his own boss, he “worked when he wanted.” Yet he always made time for the beach during the summer, and jogging Skiff Avenue, wearing his signature cutoff sweatshirts. Gay Head Beach was a favorite place for decades. He had a fishing pole in his small VW diesel at all times, “in case the fish were biting.”

Frank spent the last years of his life in retirement on the Island as a successful small business owner, having attended all of his daughters’ graduations from college. He is survived by his four daughters: Kristen Daly, Courtney Daly, Nichole Daly, Laura Daly Schwartz; his ex-wife, Kathleen Radcliffe-Daly; as well as by a large extended family. Frank leaves a legacy of a life of learning and teaching. His passing marks the passing of a generation.


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