Joseph Daggy, a Kelso, Washington attorney known for his many creative undertakings and sharp sense of humor, died March 7 at home after a 12-year battle with multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer. He was 68.
Daggy, whose articles under the penname “Horace J. Digby” earned him the Robert Benchley Society Award for humor writing, in 2005, the first winner of this award, was remembered by his friends for his diverse range of interests, sense of humor and selfless dedication to his friends.
Fellow attorney Kurt Anagnostou was Daggy’s partner at Daggy & Anagnostou for 35 years. One word came up frequently in his description of his former legal partner: talented.
Qhether it was his bass playing in the 1960s Woodland band “The Brougham Closet,” his humor column as Horace Digby for the Columbia River Reader, or his dedication to practicing law, Anagnostou said Daggy excelled at his passions. Daggy operated a film company, “Lexington Film,” and ran unsuccessfully in 2010 and 2012 for judicial positions on the state Court of Appeals and Cowlitz County Superior Court bench.
“It’s a big loss in my life,” Anagnostou said. “He was extremely intelligent, talented (and) had a lot of different interests that he pursued. He had a great, quirky sense of humor; that’s why he was part of the Sandbaggers. I’m gonna miss him a lot.”
In the Sandbaggers, a loose affiliation of Longview community promoters, pranksters and mischief-makers, Daggy played an all-important role: the voice of reason.
“He always kept us on the legal side,” Sandbagger and Longview City Councilman Ken Botero said. “We pushed the limits a lot. ... Joe is one of the most inspirational guys for sandbaggers.”
Daggy was one of a kind and cared deeply about Longview and the county, Botero said.
“He’s gonna be missed terribly, especially some of his humor. Joe Daggy was one of a kind. He always had something positive for everybody to work with,” Botero said.
Whether it was with local residents or people he met on the plane, “Joe was everybody’s friend,” his wife Sharon Daggy said. She continues to work part-time as a bookkeeper at Daggy & Anagnostou.
“Many people have said that he changed their life,” she said. “I remember people from high school saying high school had cliques, but he wasn’t a part of a clique.”
Daggy’s decades of legal experience included some time as a District Court judge pro tem and as a public defender, and he argued cases before the state Court of Appeals. Later in his career, he focused on civil law. Daggy received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of Washington and earned his law degree from Willamette University in 1974. He was a past president of the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Bar Association.
Daggy was friends with Pulitzer Prize-winning American columnist Dave Barry, one of many guests he interviewed on his online radio show “The Horace J. Digby Report.”
Dwain Buck, one of Daggy’s closest friends, recalled Daggy having the ability to crack jokes that were funny but didn’t punch down, and added that his wife and son, Adam, were a huge part of Daggy’s life and success.
“He always had something very uplifting,” Buck said. “It’s the most difficult type of humor to be able to pull off, because it doesn’t insult or make fun of anybody.”
When Buck first learned Daggy was fighting cancer, he rushed to see him at the hospital and ask how he could help.
“He looked at me and said, very seriously, ‘don’t worry,’ “ Buck said. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, not to worry.”
The We Only Came to See if There Really is an Award is the third, or gamma, chapter of the RBS. Members are in southwest Washington and northwest Oregon.
David Trumbull, Chairman of the RBS said, "It Labor Day weekend, 2005 at the Benchley in Boston 2005 celebration at which Joe Daggy (aka Horace Digby), of Kelso, Washington, was presented with the first annual Robert Benchley Society Humor Award that I first met this funny and caring man. Horace with the founder of the "We Only Came to See if There Really is an Award" chapter of the RBS, with members in southwest Washington and northwest Oregon. He was also West Coast Vice-Chairman of the Society.