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The Greyhound

The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

Most Likely to Brighten Your Day: Memorializing Michael Bagley


When I think of Michael Bagley, I see a loop of him singing Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon” on the porch of the York Road bar, Craig’s. I see him as a bartender handing out florescent-colored shots with names like “The Doppler Effect.” I see him in a newsboy cap picking up flowers for his Nana and scooping her up in a huge hug when she opens her door. I think of him with his crazy white-boy “fro” and electric eyes, laughing at a party in McAuley senior housing on the night we met.

Michael graduated from Loyola this past May. Seven months later, on Dec. 1, he was found dead 11 days after he went missing from a Fells Point bar.

10500416_10152235234508513_8572181944971283677_nThe world lost someone wonderfully unique that day. Michael never cared about trying to fit in with everyone else and people loved that about him. To me, he once described himself as “sweet, simple, and easy.” Others have referred to him as charming, sincere, good humored, intelligent, or thoughtful.

Using any of these simple terms to describe Michael Bagley is entirely inadequate. It’s only through getting to know the things he did that one could truly understand who he was. You could sit with Michael and have a deep philosophical conversation about life, or bring your textbooks to him and get tutored in biology. If you were to take a coffee break while studying, he would have you cracking up with every other sentence that comes out of his mouth.

Michael was always something special. Born on Oct. 3, 1993, he quickly grew into a mess of curly locks that mirrored the crazy hairstyle many of us automatically recognized. His older sister, Katie, said he used to “wake up on the weekends and come into my room, curl up at the foot of my bed, and wait for me to wake up so we could go watch cartoons together.” One of his childhood friends, Noah, recalled a time in kindergarten when Michael yelled out in the middle of class, “Let’s all get naked!”

Michael always expressed his quirky side, but the qualities that made him lovable as a young adult isolated him as a kid. He was made fun of and didn’t have many friends growing up.

When he was 5 years old, his parents got divorced. At 13, he was diagnosed with Type One diabetes. Only two years later, his mother, the one person who seemed to truly understand him, passed away. This past July, his father, Loyola’s own Philosophy Professor Paul Bagley, also passed away. Michael struggled with the weight of these tragedies throughout his 23 years of life. He was never truly able to shake the pain, but he used it as fuel to go out of his way to make other people smile.

He attended Loyola Blakefield,  a private high school in Towson, where he belatedly learned how to ride a bike and became an active member of the school community through Model UN, Chorus, and even Chess Club. A former classmate Aaron recalls being a scared freshman waiting to be picked up after school when Michael walked up to him and started chatting with him, making Aaron feel more comfortable. “His became the face I would look for every day after school that year,” Aaron said.

12208297_10153440540959261_3851470095468891871_nIt seems as though it was here at Loyola University Maryland where Michael fully grew into himself. Many people knew him from his job at the Fitness and Aquatic Center (FAC); others because he was their retreat leader. Some may have just known him as that really tall guy with a radio voice who always seemed to be dancing.

If you go into the equipment room at the FAC and look at the checkout list for a game called Wallyball, you’ll see that he is the only person who has ever checked it out (and likely the only one who knew how to play it).

If you got to visit him in his dorm or apartment the past few years, you would have met his tarantula, Lolita, and seen her crawl around in the jungle on top of his head. If you ran into him coincidentally on campus, he would pull you up in a huge hug and ask you how you’ve been, as if you were the exact person he was hoping to see that day. Even if you only met him once, Michael would be sure to remember your name.

Jack Monagle, Loyola class of 2014, didn’t know him well, but one of his favorite memories of college spent with Michael, ordering Chinese food to the rock wall and watching the Ravens win the Superbowl on his phone.

Theo Darvin, Loyola class of 2015, tried out for Loyola’s male acapella group, The Chimes, with Michael, and when they didn’t get in, they formed their own society called “The Super Chimes.” The two performed an arrangement of “Lollipop, Lollipop,” to the delight of the Boulder lunch crowd.

Jill Langin, Loyola class of 2017, remembers spending Wednesday nights at Murphy’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill with Michael. One particular night, when they were standing outside for a smoke break, a stranger was walking down York Road, dancing to the music from the bar, and Michael went right down to dance along with him.

12932848_10153982000066855_8774031566163601165_nAt a vigil held for him on Dec. 4 in Fells Point, his sister Katie said, “He’s left a legacy in 23 years that some people try to achieve in a lifetime.”

Her words ring true through the outpouring of messages in response to his death, the crowd that showed up at his story-telling vigil in Fells Point, the influx of people to his funeral, and the countless individuals who silently vow to keep Michael in their memories. His life may have been short, but he touched more lives than he was even able to recognize.

Right before Michael died, whenever people asked what he wanted to become, he would say, “I want to be famous.”

Michael, you already are.

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    Carol LabrieDec 17, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    Beautifully written! Michael’s loss is felt by all those who knew and loved him. Thoughts and Prayers to all of his family.

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Most Likely to Brighten Your Day: Memorializing Michael Bagley