Brian Dagle was best known for having boundless enthusiasm in everything he did. When swimming, he’d jump off the highest cliff, just to do it. He was the first to talk to people no one else knew and friends say he was the most giving person they knew.
“Always, these random burst of energy. Sometimes we would be sitting there just listening to a song and he would just start jamming on his own in the middle of a song,” said close friend Alex West. “He always got so crazy.”
But there was a darker side not everybody saw. Dagle suffered from depression. Sometimes his vibrant personality slowly diminished. He began isolating himself. Schoolwork became unbearable. Relationships became strained. And then on Nov. 12, the Castleton State College sophomore committed suicide.
Last winter, Dagle and his friends managed to get lost in unmarked glades on Killington.
Travis Hudson, his close friend and housemate, told the story at memorial for Dagle saying they were lost for two hours “and had no idea where we were going or how we were going to get out.”
“Dagle was the only one who didn’t even care, he wasn’t concerned,” said Rob Bresnan, another close friend, during a recent gathering of his friends and housemates.
Killington was a happy place for Dagle. He enjoyed filming his friends and “just cruised down the hill,” said Bresnan. At the end of the 2011 season, however, Dagle slowly stopped snowboarding.
“That was part of his depression though,” said Hudson, “It’s just part of the cycle, I guess. When you think back on it, that wasn’t him, not going to the mountain. He got pale and skinny.”
He slowly stopped hanging out with his friends as much, and began to stress over stuff that he never worried about, friends said. He stressed over the amount of schoolwork he had, relationships, stuff that never fazed him before.
“He would say to me, ‘I’ve got too much to do man,'” said Hudson.
Dagle began isolating himself. He didn’t abandon his friends, but he kept to himself in his room forcing friends to go there just to see him.
Still, friends said they never suspected what would happen on Nov. 12.
Dagle’s parents, Paul and Ann, his friends and Castleton faculty gathered in the 1787 Room of the Campus Center on Nov. 21 for his memorial service. More than 100 people attended. Heads were bowed and tears were shed in remembrance of a young man full of love for life — and for little kids.
When Dagle taught at a local school through the education department, said education department chair Tim Cleary at the memorial, “the room was always up in the air, Brian was up in the air with them … and he’d just have this beaming radiance.”
Castleton part-time faculty member Brad Slonaker said that Brian was simply “pure joy.”
“I for one will always owe you an extreme debt of gratitude,” Slonaker said, “for sharing your joy with me and our community.”
His roommates, though grief-stricken, also shared fond memories. When roommate Jessi Perkins took the podium, she, laughing, confessed to his parents that she was the one who had pierced their son’s ear — seven times to get it even.
“Whether you’d known Dagle for 19 years of his life or if you knew him for two months, he’s like your best friend,” Perkins continued. “It’s like you’d known him forever.”
Friend Jack O’Connor, remembered wanting to be Dagle’s friend and talked about how he always accepted everyone around him.
“I wish I could have told him how much I really cared about him,” O’Connor said. “I’m sure he’s sneaking some ways to mess with me.”
When Dagle’s father took the microphone, he stressed that no one should go through his son’s death alone.
“Please don’t keep it to yourself,” he said with his hands gripping the podium, staring into the audience. “It’s the goodness that helps us get through the next five minutes, the next couple hours and then eventually the day after. Death unfortunately is a part of life.”
Paul said the reason Brian loved Castleton so much was because of the people here.
“When you hit the mountain this year, ride or ski for Brian,” his father added. “If Brian has any regrets, it’s that he’s not gonna be able to ride that mountain again.”
Leaving a impression
Dagle had wanted to be an elementary school teacher. He not only was enthusiastic about life, but about teaching as well. Friends and professors say he could really connect with people, especially kids – probably because he could get so crazy.
“I see the qualities that teachers have, particularly elementary teachers, the way they connect with young people, and I think that Brian would have really been able to connect with the kids he taught,” said Christopher Boettcher, who taught two of Dagle’s literature classes.
Boettcher said when Dagle started something, he was absolutely ruthless about doing it well.
“He jumped into anything that he was a part of with just, sometimes with abandon,” said Boettcher. “A lot of kids are held back by not being willing to go with it, and he didn’t have that problem. That’s for sure.”
In a recent session with Dagle’s closest friends, they all spoke with wonder about how their buddy always got the girls who were way out of his league.
“He was a short, white, skinny Irish kid… like what?” said Hudson.
When West first met Dagle, he showed up to the party with three of the best-looking girls there.
“My first thoughts were ‘who IS this kid?’ He was acting so badass, but then I met him and he was just…wicked chill,” said West.
They also talked about how he was always wearing an obnoxious pair of sunglasses.
“They were the ugliest things I have ever seen,” said O’Connor. “I would have worn them in like, the third grade. But Dagle wore them all the time, they’re like who he is, they were part of his image.”
The friends said he was also an avid New England Patriots fan, but not exactly the best football player, according to friends.
“He couldn’t throw a football to save his life,” Bresnan said.
They also described Dagle as one of the most giving people they knew.
“Dagle took care of all of his good friends, with anything they needed,” said O’Connor.
“Whenever I needed advice on anything, I went to Dagle,” said West.
The Castleton community continues to mourn the loss of its classmate and friend, but Bresnan spoke at the memorial about what he feels should be Dagle’s legacy.
“We shouldn’t dwell on the unknown,” said Bresnan. “But remember the fun times and memories.”
Wyatt Aloisio and James Schubert also contributed.