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IN MEMORIAM: Bobby Dagley, May 24, 1929 – February 9, 2015

Bobby Dagley died on February 9 in New Orleans at the age of 85. He was born in Cleveland, Texas on May 24, 1929, and is survived by his son, Danny Dagley and daughter Patricia Dagley Wattigney.

Mr. Dagley was a true self-made man, who subscribed religiously to the values of honesty, frugality and responsibility, in his personal life and in business. He was not widely known in the dredging industry. Founder of Dredging Supply Company and Dredging Supply Rental Incorporated, he brought his knowledge of hydraulic systems to the dredges he manufactured.

His son Danny said that his father didn’t attend conferences or take public credit for what he accomplished, not wanting thanks or fame.

He was president and founder of Sun Contractors, Inc., headquartered in Harvey, Louisiana, through which he developed the concept of the jack-up drilling rig, using his understanding of hydraulics in the design. He contracted with Tommy Wetta’s Kenner Marine to build three rigs in the late 1970s, which was the beginning of his close professional and personal friendship with “Mr. Tommy.”

When Halliburton acquired Sun Contractors in the mid-1970s for the jack-up rig design, Mr. Dagley stayed on as president of the new company, Otis-Halliburton, and was the only president of a Halliburton company who did not have a college degree.

When Kenner Marine filed for bankruptcy in the late 1980s, Mr. Dagley purchased the assets, and took on 20 of Kenner’s employees and the property in LaPlace, Louisiana on the river side of the Mississippi River Levee. He started a new dredge manufacturing company and served as its president.

Danny remembers brainstorming with his father on the name of the new company – Dredging Supply Company, Inc.

“Dad funded it out of his own pocket,” said Danny, who delivered the paychecks signed by Bobby Dagley to the employees every week. He said ‘if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it’ ,“ Danny said, and that if you want to start a business, get the money together before starting. Don’t start and immediately go into debt.

“Dad was a hydraulic genius,” Danny said. “He designed the jack-ups, and refined the hydraulic systems on the portable dredges he built with Dredging Supply Company. I keep the same hydraulic systems on the dredges I own for leasing today,” he said.

The dredges were manufactured in conjunction with Best Equipment Technologies, Inc. in Poplarville, Mississippi, headed by David  Miller. Best Equipment eventually became a division of DSC Dredge, LLC, the successor to Dredging Supply Company.

The head office of Dredging Supply Company, Inc. remained in Mr. Dagley’s headquarters in Harvey, Louisiana for some years, and then moved to Harahan.

In 1994, Mr. Dagley signed over the assets of Dredging Supply Company to Tommy Wetta, in fulfillment of a promise he had made. Mr. Dagley kept ownership of Dredging Supply Rental, in the business of leasing small dredges, with son Danny at the helm, and daughter Patti Dagley Wattigney running the office. Dredging Supply Rental continues today as a profitable company.

Bobby Dagley was known for his white panama hat, red and blue suspenders, and strong opinions. He was an individual in a time of conformity; an adventurer who attempted the impossible and won. He had a multifaceted career as prospector, pilot, international ship broker, tool pusher, drilling superintendent and business man.

He was buried on Saturday, February 21 at Pace-Stancil Memorial Rest Gardens, Cleveland, Texas.

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