@Cronix , You are correct. I am using a resource controller.
I didn't realize that those controllers could not receive parameters like that.
I guess this is one problem with combining so many learning resources that tutorials get combined into things that sometimes don't work together. I never thought about passing the variable through a hidden field in the form.
Now when I dd($contact), I get the entire record for the correct contact in the DB.
Edited the rest of my code and my form works like a champ now. Thanks!
And thanks to everyone for their feedback. This community is awesome!