In memoriam: Louie DaDan ’22

Community remembers his legacy, honors his impact on others


Louis DaDan ’22 died on May 11 (photo courtesy of Kate DaDan).

Morgan Fry, Editor in Chief

Louie DaDan ‘22 died on May 11 at Loyola University Medical Center from an accidental drug overdose. Since then, the LT community has reflected and come together to remember his life. 

“Louie had the kindest heart,” friend Kathleen Cooley ‘22 said. “ He could always be there for you and made you smile with his contagious laugh.”

Inside the classroom, he was described as a cheerleader and motivator to other students by his  science teacher Lisa Nicholson. She recalls a time when she was going to have each student read a paragraph out of a long passage. 

“I told everyone that we were going to need volunteers and Louie said, ‘I’ll make a deal with you Nicholson. I’ll read a paragraph, and you’ll read a paragraph, and we’ll let everyone else slide,’” Nicholson said. “That was just the type of person he was. He knew [the reading] was hard, and that others struggled, so he tried to make it more positive.” 

DaDan deeply valued relationships with his family and friends. He was extremely loyal, but needed to know that others were loyal in return, his mother Kate DaDan said.

“[Louie] had a fear of people leaving him, I feel, and almost seemed to unknowingly test others to see if they would really stick around,” she said. “He needed to know that his relationships were non-conditional and the other person would like or love him no matter what.”

Despite struggling with his trust in others, DaDan did not hesitate to reach out to other kids, his mother said. He almost always invited someone new into his home, and it was not uncommon for friends to stay weeks at a time.

“[Louie] was a comfort to those who struggled because he struggled so much himself,” she said. “He found friends that were able to talk about things in their lives and be open to how they got to be in the place they were.” 

One friend that DaDan left a lasting impact on was Ivan Villalobos-Tello ‘22. Villalobos-Tello described how DaDan pushed him to get through his addiction, while still fighting his own demons. 

He helped me become sober and I’m really grateful that he got me through that time in my life,” Villalobos-Tello said. “He would make sure that you got to the goal you wanted to achieve one way or another.”

In the future, Villalobos-Tello hopes that LT and the community focus conversations on mental health. He doesn’t want anyone to feel judged or that they have to put up a front to other people, the way DaDan did.  

“I don’t want Louie to be remembered as just another statistic,” Villalobos-Tello said. “He was a very good kid. Everybody has their own faults and struggles and he never intended to pass in this way.” 

The community has shown DaDan’s mother that students at LT are living out her family’s request, which is to see the individual first, not the illness. Students selling “Always Smiling” T-shirts to fund a scholarship in his name, and the LT football team naming their first play of the year “Louie” are all ways this hope has been fulfilled. 

“I know that Louie no longer struggles from anxiety or depression and lives victoriously,” DaDan’s mother said. “There is more to Louie’s story, yet it is not about having to know all the details to gain empathy. It’s about personal acknowledgement that everyone deserves to be treated kindly with love and without judgement.”