Katharine Rose Hanley, Ph.D., a world-renowned expert on Gabriel Marcel and the first tenured female professor at Le Moyne, passed away on Sunday, Oct. 13 in Falmouth, Mass., following a lengthy illness. She was 87. Calling hours will take place on Thursday, Oct. 17 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Chapman, Cole, and Gleason Funeral Home, 475 Main Street in Falmouth. A funeral Mass will follow at noon at St. Patrick's, 510 Main Street in Falmouth. Alumni Chaplain Dan Mulhauser, S.J., will concelebrate the Mass.
Known as K.R., she taught at Le Moyne from 1961 to 1997, when she retired as professor emeritus of philosophy. She served as chair of the philosophy department from 1968 to 1973. She came to Le Moyne at the invitation of Donald Monan, S.J., then chair of the philosophy department who would go on to serve as president of Boston College, and Robert Mitchell, S.J., then dean of Arts & Sciences who later served as Le Moyne's 10th president. She met both men while studying at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium.
"K.R. was a remarkable scholar, teacher, author and person," said Linda LeMura, president of Le Moyne College. "Her work brought her worldwide acclaim, yet she always remained the down to earth person who impacted generations of Le Moyne students. Her remarkable career made her a true trailblazer in the world of academia."
It was while at Louvain that she first met Gabriel Marcel, a French philosopher, drama critic, playwright and musician, when he lectured at the university. They met again in 1965 when he came to Le Moyne to lecture and receive an honorary degree from the College. They had an especially meaningful conversation at Marcel’s home in Paris in September 1973, just three weeks before his death, when he inscribed his book Five Major Plays to her with these words: “In remembrance of a spiritual bond which once renewed shall not be broken.”
K.R. lectured extensively in the U.S. and at various national and international philosophical meetings in France, Canada, China and Japan. Her first book, Dramatic Approaches to Creative Fidelity: A Study in the Theater and Philosophy of Gabriel Marcel (1987), announced and illustrated her perspective for appreciating Marcel’s work. She then published translations (and commentaries) of seven Gabriel Marcel plays, including two audio CDs of Marcel plays performed by professional actors. "Gabriel Marcel’s Perspectives on The Broken World," published in 1998, comprises the play The Broken World, his essay “Concrete Approaches to Investigating the Ontological Mystery,” and appendices listing Marcel’s biblio-biography, his dramatic and philosophic works in French and their English translations, his books as drama critic, and titles of his musical compositions.
She received an associate’s degree from Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart (1954), and her bachelors (1955), masters (1958) and doctorate of philosophy (1961) from the Catholic University of Louvain. She was named a National Endowment of the Humanities fellow in 1973 and received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Le Moyne in 1997. Amid all of her extraordinary professional accomplishments K.R. was also an expert skier, and often enjoyed skiing with Father Monan, Father Mulhauser, other Le Moyne faculty and students, and her love for the sport led her to found the College’s Ski Club in the 1960s.
Contributions can be made to the K.R. Hanley, Ph.D Scholarship Fund at Le Moyne, which was created by former students and friends in honor of K.R. for students who have excelled academically while working outside jobs.