Bryan Dagenhart (1948-2003)
Bryan Dagenhart (July 7, 1948 – April 1, 2003), a long time Lombard, Illinois, resident, was a captivating and talented entertainer. Known for singing traditional and obscure folk songs, sea chanteys, sing-alongs, as well as originals, he is especially remembered for polling the audience for topics and weaving several unrelated ones into improvised songs. He generously and lovingly donated his time and talent to raise funds for local causes.
Born in Hartford, Connecticut, he started playing guitar and writing music at age 14. At age 16 he was performing in clubs and on the radio (WSOR). He made his Way to Chicagoland in 1966 to attend Elmhurst College, where he obtained a History major, and became active in Chicago's folk scene. Mr. Dagenhart performed at numerous clubs, coffee houses, festivals and children's programs in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. He was a regular at the Two Way Street Coffee House in Downers Grove, Illinois, and also at the Masthouse in Woodstock, Illinois. In fact, he sang everywhere he could, including gold-miners camps in Alaska, Washington Square Park in New York, and the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.
The place he sang most often, however, was at his day job in his classroom at Glenside Middle School in Glendale Heights, Illinois. A naturally gifted teacher who loved kids, Bryan used music to teach history lessons and keep his students’ attention. A beloved teacher for over 30 years, it was at his students’ prompting that he recorded an album in 1982, “Popcorn and Other Favorites” (available by contacting Melissa.)
His passion for music and love of history made him a befitting member of the Maple Street Chapel Preservation Committee (MapleStreetChapel.org). Bryan started the Maple Street Chapel Folk Concert Series to benefit the preservation of Lombard’s historic American Gothic Chapel, dedicated May 29, 1870, and placed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 10, 1978. He handed over the reigns to his highly competent friend, George Brown, also a member of the Chapel Preservation Society. Under George's tutelage the Maple Street Chapel Folk Concert Series flourished for many years.
Bryan is survived by his wife, Melissa (nee Abenti), and three children; Ben, Zak, and Gia.