|email@example.com||I was saddened to learn of the death of your father, my “Dr.
I was an I.S.U. physics major from 1961 to 1965 while your father was our department chair. I was one of his “special” students. With the passage of time I now realize that Dr. Zaffarano had the gift of allowing each student to feel special. The warmth, enthusiasm and interest that he exhibited in each student helped fashion our professional careers. In my case, knowing of my interest in both physics and astrophysics, he suggested that I investigated a new institute as my future graduate student home. This institute, the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics at the University of Colorado, did become my graduate student home. Without his interest, I would not have known of this possible location for my graduate work. And, without that connection, today I would not be semi-retired, serving as a visiting professor at the Colorado School of Mines, just south of the University of Colorado. While the time that I spent talking with your father was modest, he had a most significant role in the path of my own life.
Today I share a portion of your sadness in the passing of your remarkable father.
I appreciate the opportunity to share some thoughts about Dan because he had a major impact on my professional career. I sometimes wonder what my career would have been if Dan had not come into my life when I was a young faculty member at Iowa State University. Fortunately, he was there to serve as a valuable mentor, supervisor, and friend.
I first met Dan when he invited a group of young faculty from various disciplines to become members of the Graduate Research Advisory Committee (GRAC). It was his way of making us feel important by leading us to believe we would be serving as an advisor to a top administrator at ISU. We never really gave him any advice, instead we all learned a great deal from him and from each other. The experience was critical for me because it demystified the administration of the university and gave me a broad perspective of the diversity in disciplines that made up our university. He would invite to the meetings other top administrators who explained what they did and gave us an opportunity to ask questions. The administrators in Beardshear Hall turned out to be real people who were there to help us succeed. Later in my career, that would become very important.
I got to know Susie at the dinner meetings of GRAC to which our spouses were invited. Those events made me aware of how important family was to Dan and how important it was to maintain a balance between work and family. I also learned how lucky he was to have Susie as his wife. At each dinner, one of us had to explain our research in a way that could be understood by everyone in attendance. It was fun to learn what my colleagues were doing without all of the jargon that is a part of our formal presentations to others in our discipline.
Another valuable lesson Dan taught us was how to be successful in securing outside grants. His advice was simple, but critical. If you want to be successful, get to know the manager of the grants program and listen to what they are looking for in a proposal. I had thought that would be inappropriate because it might be viewed as trying to bias the review process. Dan said that if we ever wanted to go to Washington DC or elsewhere to meet the program manager, he would pay for the trip. I tried what Dan taught us, and it worked perfectly for me. I got to know a lot of program managers over the years who helped me be successful in writing proposals.
After the GRAC experience, I did not see Dan very much until 1984. During spring break of that year, I went with my family to Brownsville, Texas, to enjoy the warm weather. While in the heated pool at the hotel, I met Donald Beitz who was introduced to me through GRAC. While our children swam, we talked about what was wrong about ISU and what should be done to fix it. We agreed that ISU had to get actively involved in biotechnology research if we were to stay at the forefront of research. When I got back to campus, I talked to my department chair about the idea. He thought biotechnology was a flash in the pan and not to be taken seriously. My college dean was lukewarm to the idea. Before giving up the idea, I decided to talk to Vice President Zaffarano. Dan was enthusiastic about any idea that the faculty presented to him. He decided on the spot that he would appoint an advisory committee of the leading life science faculty at ISU to recommend what we should be doing in biotechnology. That committee became the Biotechnology Council, which has been in existence ever since Dan appointed the first members. I had the privilege of serving as the chair of the Council and worked for Dan during the rest of his career as Vice President. Dan insisted that I maintain my research and teaching programs, as well as administer the biotechnology program for him. Thanks to his advice, I have had the pleasure of a diverse career at ISU in administration, research, and teaching.
The Biotechnology Council gave Dan a plan, he took it to President Parks, and two years later ISU got 17 million dollars to launch the biotechnology program. With the new money in hand, Dan recommended something very revolutionary. He recommended that the funds be administered out of his office and that it not be parceled out the colleges. He wanted a centralized program that would help the entire university and avoid duplication of effort. As part of his plan, the Biotechnology Council would recommend to him how the funds should be spent. None of the new biotechnology money in his office would be spent unless the Council recommended the funding. President Eaton agreed with his plan, much to the dismay of the college deans and department chairs. Dan deserves credit for the plan that led to the success we have enjoyed at ISU in biotechnology for the past 20 years. He set a precedent that every Vice President or Vice Provost for Research has adopted, which bears out the wisdom of his strategy.
Dan was a wonderful person to work for in the biotechnology program. His door was always open and his mind ready for any new idea, no matter how unconventional. We went through some interesting times together as the program developed. There were times when we had very different opinions about what should be done, which led to some lively debates. Norman Jacobson used to say that he came to our meetings to be the referee. It was great to be able to have a vigorous debate with my supervisor without ever wondering if he would get mad and fire me. I cannot remember what we debated, but I do remember how much I enjoyed the intellectual challenge of getting Dan see my perspective. When he vetoed an idea, I always knew he had listened and that I had a fair day in court.
I know that you are going to miss Dan and his wonderful friendship. He will always be one of the important people in my life. Thanks for sharing him with me.
There are some people that come into our world that have a profound impact on our lives. Even though we might not remember the exact words a person used or the premise of the conversation, we always remember the decency, respect, and tone of voice.
I was only 13 when my family moved from Ames to Baton Rouge. However, I was blessed with a young childhood filled with good old fashioned fun, tradition, and most importantly, love. I write to your family with much affection as Mr. Zaffarano is truly a man that has remained and will continue to remain a part of my world. It is he that taught me one of life's biggest lessons. - Simple acts of kindness means a great deal. Without him voicing this lesson, he taught this to me by example. (Even on Sundays, he was still teaching.)
My fondest memory of him is the Sunday mornings after church. Instead of talking with the adults and engaging in great discussions of world affairs, he took time out to play piano with a kid downstairs. It was never just a whim or a rushed event. Mr. Zaffarano always made the time and made me feel special. He was always complimentary and supportive of my playing. These acts of kindness that he has shown me, is reflected every day in my teaching. It is because of him that I have made it a priority to always take time out to build rapport with my students while building self esteem. I will continue to be available and most importantly, approachable. - Simple acts of kindness means a great deal.
As he has affected my life in such a positive light, I only pray he knows how much. His caring eyes and cheerful smile are physically what I remember. Mostly, I remember him taking an interest in a kid that liked to play the piano.
Every once in a while I look in my baby book to look at pictures and memorabilia. One of my favorites is a card that he had given me at church on our last Sunday before the big move. He inserted a picture of us sitting together as I rested my head on his shoulder. You let him know that a promise is a promise… I will see him in paradise where he can teach me how to play "Kittens on the Keys."
The richest people are the ones that have been lucky enough to cross paths with the most beautiful people and to take the time to learn from them. I consider myself extremely lucky that God allowed me to cross paths with such a beautiful man.
You are all in my prayers and daily thoughts as God awaits his angel.
Love to all,
|John E.E. Baglin||
Coral joins me in sending a cheery greeting to you and Suzie, and to
all the folks of your wonderful, wonderful family! We do go back a long
way, don't we? I wonder if you recall the arrival of this shy young postdoc
from Melbourne in July of 1963 -- a particularly hot and sticky summer
in Ames. I certainly do. And I vividly recall the way that I was gathered
up like family by you and Suzie and family - and of course by all the
other Physics colleagues too. And made to feel at home, and welcome. It
was a wonderful experience. So was my first Christmas in the U.S. -- stopping
over at your home, to enjoy Christmas among all these new friends! And
singing carols and madrigals around your piano from the Penguin song books.
Coral is still doing nuclear physics at Lawrence Berkeley Lab. My work right now centers on making ion beam patterned polymer surfaces, that may one day be useful for selective sensing of individual molecules of DNA. Great fun. And we both continue singing with Schola Cantorum. Bach Mass in B-Minor last spring. Also Beethoven Ninth. Last weekend, our concert of John Rutter's music included a semi-staged version of his children's piece "The Reluctant Dragon" ( for which I was the Narrator!). Our model example for this piece was a CD made by the Kings' Singers -- they are marvelous. I wonder if you all still stay in personal touch with them?
You are all constantly in our thoughts.
|Christopher Gabbitas||Dear Erica,
David forwarded your mail concerning your father's recent passing, to me. I wanted to mail you to send my condolences and best wishes to you, Gina and the rest of the family. My uncle died recently and I know that, while it can be seen as a blessing that he is in no more pain, it is still a sad event and my thoughts are with you all.
The King's Singers
|Doug Anderson-King's Singers music rep||Dear Zaffarano family,
Janet and I hold you all in our thoughts and prayers. We know your dad is now well taken care of and we send strength to your mother as she recovers from all this.
Doug & Janet Anderson
|David Hurley- King's Singers||Thank you for your incredibly moving message. Please accept my great sympathy,
and please pass it on to all the family, and especially Suzy. Dan was such
a wonderful man, and I will have such lovely memories of him over the years
I have known him. It was especially moving to see him at his last K'S concert,
and despite his frailty, to see the twinkle in his eye, and the smile on
his face. Please give my love to all the Zaffs, and when you have a moment,
could you let me have your Mum's address?
With lots of love and prayers
|Abby Fiat|| I just got the email about your father's passing. I am so sorry. Your
parents were always so thoughtful and sweet to me in college. I'm anxious
to hear about your mom's health. Take care my sweet friend and I send you
my deepest sympathy and love.
When, in the spring of my junior year at Iowa State, I moved into the storied apartment on West Street, my life changed for the better in so many ways. Not only was I introduced to Erica's world of dripping candles, theatre productions and Italian heartthrobs, but I found myself entertained most nights by those romantic cast-offs of Erica's -- all still vainly hoping for another chance (are you there, Jeff Klomp?). But by far the best thing that happened to me was my introduction to the Zaffarano clan and most especially, Dan and Suzy. I quickly fell in love with the warmth and, to me, enchantment pervading the Zaffarano househhold.
I don't know if they perceived how needy I was or, more likely, just offered the attention they lavished on all of Erica's "strays". No matter, I was astounded by the depth of their caring. Concert tickets, dinners, house sitting - I even got to drive the VW bus! When Suzy found out that Bob and I were getting married the afternoon of his graduation and that nothing was planned in between, they generously opened their house to our families for a post-graduation party. My family still talks about it. A few year's later, Dan and Suzy welcomed Bob and me, sweaty and roady weary, when we stopped in unannounced and dragging a UHaul for our move from Massachusetts to Utah. I only regret I did not get to see them exploring the countryside in the "silver turd". I did not realize it at the time, but Dan introduced me to the idea of mentorship. I am so proud to have known him. Suzy has been a mother to me in so many ways that my own mother was not. For this, I hold her in my heart always.
I often thought the Zaffarano children the luckiest I had ever known.
30 years has not changed that assessment. Blessings to you all!
|Phil Lawson- KS||My thoughts and condolences are with you and all the family. Would that
all passings were as peaceful. Special love to Suzy, and all of you at this
Thank you so much for your email to Diane - I had talked to Hilary Carrington about 15 minutes previously, so your network and support over here is right with you.
You all have been a HUGE part of OUR lives. When we told people back in the 70's that we'd been the US touring, and had sung in Ames, they would look a bit dubious about Ames, Iowa. We would reply that there are some fantastic things about Ames, and that the surname of pretty well all of them was Zaffarano!
Dan and all of you are very much in our thoughts.
We are very sad to hear your news and send our love and support to everyone gathered there.
We are thinking of you all wishing you much strength and resilience.
|Tony Holt-KS||Erica, I am devastated. I didn't know that your dad's situation was so bad. I remember your telling me that he was not so well, but I had no idea that he was in a hospice. Please believe that my thoughts and prayers are with you all at this time. I have only the best memories of your dad - as being one of the kindest and most contented of men, a person of undoubted wisdom and knowledge, but one loth to display it unless called upon, which I found most attractive. But by far the most lingering memory is a game of ping pong at your house in Ames, in which we were fairly evenly matched, but in which he beat me by a whisker by a mixture of psychology and guile - and I didn't mind at all! He has a special place in my heart as I know he has in yours, but your loss will be Heaven's gain. I'm afraid I don't have Al's e-mail address, but I'm sure Simon would have. Do give my heartfelt wishes and support to your mother at this time,and to the rest of the family. Thanks for keeping in touch. Tony.|
|Colette McNamara||Oh Erica, I am so sorry.
This must be a very trying time, but it is so good your father is surrounded by so many loving and caring family members. In the end, we really see that all that counts is the love we freely and constantly give one another , no matter what happens. He will be in my prayers and so will all of you. Take care and do not hold your tears. This is not a time to pretend but to have only open hearts.
|Steve Connolly||Send my love to your family. You are in my prayers.
|Phil Perritt-Dario's friend|| I'm sorry to hear of your father's death. The process of dying, while
it serves many purposes, is not easy. From your e-mail, it sounded like
the whole family had a chance to express their emotions to your father and
each other. That is a rare blessing.
Our prayers and thoughts are, and will be, with you, your family and especially with your mother.
May God continue to bless you,
|Dario's moving summary||
The last few weeks have been alternately dreary and cheery for us. As you may recall, my father had been experiencing age-related symptoms since before we visited you: his speech center was affected to the point that he was unable to converse. Recently he could still understand, or covered well, but couldn't get much out beyond the first few words of a sentence. He could respond if only one or two words were appropriate, but that was about it. For the last four or five months, my mother was needing to help him stand, to dress him, to feed him, to toilet him. He was still able to help push himself up from his chair, but we knew that once he couldn't do so, he would no longer be able to remain at home.
On Tuesday of the week before Thanksgiving, my mother called because he was too weak or unfocused to help lift himself after breakfast. I went over, and found my mother kneeling before him in tears. I helped lift him, and once he was standing, he seemed to gain strength. That afternoon my mother and I had planned to go to the local hospice house to learn what assistance they could provide for in home care, and he was looking pretty good when we left him with a young woman who has been helping my parents with household chores. On our return, he was eating lunch, feeding himself. As he finished he noted that he felt "nervous". His hands then began shaking, and this soon lead to full body tremors, almost as if he was having a seizure. My mom and Linda and I were pretty perplexed by the shaking: he denied hurting anywhere, or being cold, and covering him with a blanket didn't help with the shaking. We called his neurologist, who offered an anti-anxiety pill if we could come to get it. I got it, and he seemed to be a little calmer after taking it. My mom then noticed he seemed warm. He did have a temperature, and the First Nurse operator told us to bring him into the ER. Well, he couldn't stand or walk, so we managed to lift him into his travel chair, and my mom and I carried the chair and him down the stairs to the car, and then to pour him into the car. Once we arrived at the ER, he was thought to be suffering from pneumonia or a urinary tract infection, and was stabilized with an IV and a broad spectrum antibiotic drip was started and he was transferred to a hospital room. He remained there from Tuesday to Friday; my sisters all joined us during this time. On Friday he was able to be taking the antibiotic orally rather than by IV, so no longer needed hospitalization, but was not yet strong enough to go home, even with in home assistance for my mother. At the suggestion of a family friend, we arranged for transfer to the hospice house so he could either regain his strength, or not. This was a wrenching decision to consider, but was one we rapidly accepted as the best option for us and for him.
At the hospice house, however, he began a decline, eating very little and drinking less. The staff at the house were very gentle with all of us, allowing us to essentially colonize one wing of the facility. We all slept either in his room, or in the family room across the hall. We began a roller coaster of tears and laughter. All of our families had been planning to gather in Ames for Thanksgiving anyway, and arrived a week after my siblings. The volunteers at the hospice house bring in feasts for the holidays for clients and any of their families who may wish to share, so our family of 25 or so swelled the number to about 65 who ate well! After the weekend, the families left to return to their lives, but my siblings remained as my father continued to decline in responsiveness. We made contact with a funeral home to discuss cremation arrangements. My mom's brother and nephew from Tennessee came to be with us. Our pastor came with his gentle guitar several times, and we each had the opportunity to give my father permission to move on. Finally, ten days after entering the house, he whispered to my mother that he was ready. Even so, his body wasn't ready to do so: he'd still squeeze our hands and pucker up for rounds of kisses from all of us,
Last Friday, I had left for a scheduled (and needed) haircut. When I checked in at my office, my sister Erica had called to say that Pr. Dave had come again and they were going to sing. I called back to tell them to go ahead without me, but my cousin Phillip said that I should come back as my dad "is passing." I returned in time for a few verses of "Jesus Loves Me, This I Know", then Dave put his guitar down, and we watched as my father's pulse became more erratic, then slowed, then gently and peacefully stopped. As Dave said, we "sang him into heaven." Then we let his body go. We will have a funeral service this Saturday, and will have a celebration at the Sunroom in the Memorial Union in mid-January so that those more far-flung friends and colleagues can plan to attend.
Robert G. Johnson
I just received the e-mail notification of the memorial service for Dan planned at Iowa State on January 16. I will not be able to attend, but would like to contribute a very nostalgic thought. I knew Dan only briefly, but that memory stretches back to the year 1952 or possibly the fall of 1951 - my last year as a graduate student at Iowa State in the Physics Department. Dan had just joined the department as a young professor, not much older than myself and the other students in our PhD class. In his first appearance, he gave one of the weekly seminar lectures, probably on his work or one of his topics of interest. On such occasions, questions from the faculty audience were often very pointed, if not critical. But Dan's "savoir faire" and smooth response simply blew us all away, and we were green with envy!
From that smooth start, his contributions to the Department and Iowa
State have been truly notable.
Dr. Donald V Steward
|Thank you for informing me of Dr. Zaffarano’s death.
During my high school years I had read books and studied physics on my own. In my senior year in high school, a scientist from the Ames Lab gave a talk in Newton Iowa. I spoke to him after the talk and ended up with a job at the synchrotron that summer having just turned 17, before I had even entered college. That was the summer of 1949. Dr. Fox was chairman of the department. Dr. Zaffarano had just arrived from Case Western Reserve. He took me under his wing, treating me as an adult, explaining what was going on and the physics behind it. He even invited me to some faculty parties. I think that summer I learned as much about physics as I did in the following four years as a student at Iowa State.
As I remember, Dr. Zaffarano had come to Iowa State with the idea that he would be running the nuclear reactor laboratory. But as of when I left, the nuclear reactor had not been built. I understand that years later Iowa State did build a nuclear reactor. I don’t know whether he headed that, or whether by that time he had moved on to being research vice president.
Thereafter I learned that a great way to learn physics was to talk to graduate students about their thesis projects. They were always willing to talk and taught me a great deal. I ended up working in Dr. Danielson’s lab for a while where we were studying holes in diamonds. I said we were collecting the holes to be used for making collapsible fox holes and hens teeth.
I was concerned that the undergraduates were not getting the opportunity to be taught by the great physicists that had come to Iowa State as part of the Ames Project. I became the chairman of the undergraduate physics club. In that capacity I did a survey of what was being taught in physics departments and we were preparing a proposal for the physics curriculum at Iowa State and who might teach what. Somehow the faculty heard of what we were up to and came to us before we had a chance to go to them.
I had thought that it would be useful to have a course in the history, philosophy and excitement of physics so that we could see what it was like before it was all wrapped up into the packages we were being taught. Dr. Zaffarano taught that first course of the new curriculum. Unfortunately, I had graduated before the other facets of the curriculum fell into place.
I remember that in that class he talked about how as difficult as physics was, the social sciences dealt with even more difficult problems. He treated the social sciences with great respect. In the next class I heard a tirade from a social sciences professor putting down the physical sciences. I thought the contrast between these two professors was just beautiful.
The summer between my junior and senior year I worked for GE at Hanford Labs. When I graduated from Iowa State, I went to GE, at first working on their Betatron in Schenectady, NY. Then I joined GE’s newly formed Nuclear Energy Division and was intimately involved in the nuclear and thermodynamic design of their first nuclear power plant at Dresden, Illinois. That introduced me to the UNIVAC. At GE I solved a problem of how to flatten the power shape so that we could find a way of getting from 75% the power we had sold the customer on to the full 100% power. I solved the problem backwards, going from a flat unfeasible power shape to the equally unfeasible control distribution that corresponded to it. Then we found the closest feasible solution. Voila. 104% of promised power. That got me into working out more new ways of solving problems that had defied other approaches.
From GE I got into mischief in a lot of different areas. I worked for Burroughs Research Laboratory. When the laboratory was reorganized to serve government, primarily focused on defense customers, I tried and successfully get them a contract with the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency developing a system to monitor compliance. That led me to thinking about how to use cause and effect relations to solve problems.
Then, based on a paper I had published on solving problems using this new information approach, I was hired by the University of Wisconsin at the Social Systems Research Institute to help in the development of econometric models. While there I got started on my Ph.D. in computer science.
For family reasons we moved back to California and I rejoined GE. I finished my degree in absentia. Using the European approach the faculty of the Computer Science Department at Wisconsin did not explicitly require the completion of course work, only the passing of written and oral preliminary exams and the defense of the thesis. When I came up for my defense, there was a faculty discussion of whether they really intended that someone get the degree without attending any courses. Well, I got the degree.
With my degree in hand I landed an assistant professor post at Virginia Commonwealth University teaching in the Business School and later at California State University, Sacramento teaching computer science. Now I am retired, sort of, and living in Napa, California. Unfortunately, I also ‘re-tired’ around the belt line. In retirement I have used valuable lessons taught by some, but only a very few, of my students. I nap for fifty minutes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and for seventy-five minutes on Tuesday and Thursday.
In retirement I am revisiting some of those problem solving ideas that I didn’t have the time to pursue earlier. One of these methods is now being used widely in engineering and is the subject of yearly workshops at MIT and the University of Cambridge. I am now writing a book on how to use a new way of looking at information and information dependencies to addresses some of the problems that caused failures in the first generation management methods that were intended to get us into the information age.
Going back to my interests in cause and effect, I now have a system whereby people can develop knowledge as cause and effect statements and have the computer directly solve them to find explanations. I am looking at applications in science, medical diagnosis, crime solving, and planning. I am pretty proud of this.
Now that’s probably too much about me. But I think that you can see in what I have done some of the effects of Dr. Zaffarano’s encouragement.
He was a great mentor to me, as I am sure he was to many others.
I have always thought that it is too bad that funerals are held only after someone dies rather than before. He would be so proud of how he has had so much influence on others.
|Mary and Willard Talbert||
In Honor of Dan Zaffarano
Dan was, until the end, a special and singular teacher and counselor, setting an enviable standard in shepherding students through the trials of learning, a trait that he carried into the administrative offices he occupied. His leadership as Department Chairman and Graduate Dean left footprints still visible today. His résumé is full of diverse accomplishments embodying his versatile and innovative career objectives, and is to be envied -- but he would rather that we simply enjoy the fruits of his efforts.
His concerns for the welfare of others and his guidance to lead others to a full life, was extraordinary. It is clear that his commitment to his family was an example that we all could benefit from emulating. But, his extended family was also important to him, and we all felt his friendship and sincere concern for our wellbeing.
Dan was more than “a scientist.” He was devoted to the cultural aspects of life, with special joy reserved for music -- both as a performer himself and as a member of the audience. We remember the joy he had in being a member of the Ames Choral Society, and especially in the practices leading to the performance of Mozart’s Requiem.
Dan found joy in everything he did, and displayed an unreserved love of life. Whether it be mingling with friends or being outdoors, working in the garden, or pursuing his “hobbies,” he was totally happy and we never saw him “in the dumps.” On one of our visits a few years ago we encountered him on his lawn tractor, smiling and enjoying “working” the lawn. It was special to observe his complete immersion in doing something he enjoyed.
Dan’s example of life is precious to us, and we hope to carry
it in our hearts, deeds and souls. It is a special gift to us. Dan, we
thank you for your kindness, nurturing, family, and the wonderful memories
we carry from being with you. We wish to express our gratitude and heartfelt
sympathy to Suzy and family -- Dan provided us all a terrific ride through
I received with great sorrow the news of Professor Zaffarano’s passing.
Since I left Ames in 1969, I kept thinking about the happy atmosphere of the physics department of Iowa State University. I believe firmly that we all owe very much to him for establishing the wonderful institution. Also, I can still see how you and Professor Zaffarano sit in the front row in concerts and give standing ovations, as if it was yesterday.
When I came to Ames in 1965, I was immediately impressed by his generosity and fairness. I feel that he embodied all the virtues of America.
He encouraged me to join the group of scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and I am eternally grateful to him for his advice.
Much later, when I had to make decisions as the chairman of the physics department, Keio University, I often sought guidance by imagining how he would have managed the situation.
I regret that we, admirers of Professor Zaffarano in Japan, never had a chance to see him here. I hope you will give me an opportunity for seeing you in Japan.
My thoughts remain with you and your family.
|Sent by Deirdre...perhaps on program?||If I be the first of us to die
Let grief not blacken long your sky.
Be bold yet modest in your grieving.
There is change but not a leaving.
And just as death is part of life,
The dead live on forever in the living.
And all the gathered riches of our journey,
The moments shared, the mysteries explored
The steady layering of intimacy stored.
The things that made us laugh or weep, or sing.
The joy of sunlit snow or first unfurling of the spring,
The wordless language of look and touch,
Each giving and each taking,
These are not flowers that fade
Nor trees that fall and crumble,
Nor are we stone.
For even stone cannot the wind and sun withstand.
And mighty mountain peaks in time reduce to sand.
What we were, we are
What we had, we have
A co-joined past imperishably present
So when you wake the woods where once we walked together
And scan in vain the dappled bank beside you for my shadow,
Or pause where we always did upon the hill to gaze across the land,
And spotting something, reach by habit for my hand,
And finding none, feel sorrow start to steal upon you,
Close your eyes.
Listen for my footfall in your heart
I am not gone but merely walk within you.
|David and Hanna Gradwohl||We are saddened by Dan’s passing and send you and your wonderful
family our sympathy. Dan was, in my opinion, one of the last effective and
humane administrators at ISU. He not only helped my archaeological research
at a critical time, but took a personal interest in our work. He actually
read the copies of our reports that I sent over to his office. I know, because
he subsequently asked me substantive questions on our discoveries. He also
took the time to go on one of our field trips in Saylorville Reservoir-listened
to my talk in the Polk City fire station and then tramped around sites with
members of the Iowa Archaeological Society. Dan’s sterling example
made us “grunts” feel like team players and encouraged us to
try to do our best. I was fortunate that my career overlapped with his at
ISU. Beyond that, of course, we have enjoyed the Zaffarano family at musical
events in Ames and activities involved with all of our most- excellent Zaffarano
and Gradwohl children.
Our best wishes to you all.
What sad news that your Lisa called to let us know about. We had no idea that both of you must have had difficult times these past years. Why does this disease seem to strike the most intelligent and wonderful people?
This call brought back some wonderful episodes in our long friendship.
I still see the two of you at “Smith Electric” where I sold Classical Records, coming and listening to classical records in this little booth in back of the store, then we met again at Bernard and Nedda Kern, - then we had dinner with you in your trailer, you were pregnant with Dario and could hardly squeeze through to sit at that table! Then when you drove to the east by yourself in a station wagon full of little kids. You stayed at 1212, none for the worst! Then a visit to Ames, where we had such a great visit! Dan called me “beauteous Ingrid.”
I love you soo much
I was so sorry to hear about the death of Mr. Zaffarano. He always seemed like such a kind and generous man and I know he will be greatly missed by those whose lives he blessed. Though I didn’t know him well, I do have two memories of him that make me smile. The first one was when I was a senior at Iowa State and I was making preparations to begin graduate school there. I had several questions about what that would entail, so I made an appointment to meet with Mr. Zaffarano. The thought of meeting with someone in Iowa State’s administration was a bit daunting to me, so I was very nervous about sitting down with me. But he immediately made me feel very welcome and he did a wonderful job helping me sort things out. I left his office much more informed, but more importantly, I left very touched by the kindness he sowed me.
The second memory also occurred several years ago. I was outside in our yard and I began hearing loud blasts. Shortly after that, along with the blasts, I saw liter bottles of water flying through the air…with children gleefully chasing after them to their landing places. And after that, I saw the mastermind behind the whole project, Mr. Zaffarano! I remember thinking at the time how lucky his grandchildren were to have him for a grandfather.
I know many people consider themselves lucky to have known Mr. Zaffarano.
May the days ahead fill you with many memories that make you smile, Mrs.
Zaffarano. Please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you,
|Albert Wm.("Bill") Snyder||I received today the sorrowful news of your fathers death. My wife, Ferne,
and I have very fond recollections
of the gracious reception we received from Dan and your Mother when I entered graduate school in 1951. One very memorable event was being invited to dinner at your house to join with visiting Professor Dr. Sagane. Returning to Iowa State on several occasions, I would visit with Dan and on one occasion joined with your Mother for a luncheon at the Union. Your parents were most gracious hosts. We shall always remember them.
Dan was my major professor and thus, when not in class, I spent many hours at the synchrotron. They were memorable hours filled with successes and failures. Dan responded to both failures and successes with a gentleman's demeanor; his success in various responsible positions at Iowa State are readily understood by those who worked under Dan's tutelage. In my career I have greatly benefitted from Dan's mentoring. I am eternally grateful for having had the good fortune of his association.
Ferne's and my sympathy extends to you and the family ---- and to the many whom Dan touched ---for a sorrowful loss
|John Gau||I was an undergraduate physics major at Iowa State from ’64-’67. Dr. Zaffarano was department head during that time. I appreciated his personal interest in the undergraduates. I recall the seminar we took with him. He would be pleased to know that after academic struggles my last two years and time in industry; I enrolled in graduate school and received the physics PhD. I currently enjoy teaching college physics as an adjunct after a career in industry.|
Please accept a few special thougths about your father, a very special
I will miss your smiling face, Dan! God bless.
|Carol Kline||Hello - my name is Carol Kline and I worked as a secretary a thousand
years ago when your father was head of the Physics Department. One story
I have is he threw a Christmas party for all of the secretaries/clerks and
provided gifts and treats. Even though it was forbidden to have alcohol
on ISU property, he brought in something to spike our punch and we thought
that was great.
Another story concerns a custodian who was suffering from a terrible bout of diarreha and he proceeded to interupt your father while he was dictating to one of the staff and ask him about it possibly being caused by some of "them there neutrons" in the labs he was cleaning. The story goes on and on and was quite humerous but I am afraid it would be too tacky to tell in front of a large group of people paying him honor. As usual, your father was very polite and patient while he explained to Karl that he doubted any neutrons were causing the problem, etc.
I graduated from ISU with a BS in Math and Physics in 1970. My college years were a special part of my life. Your father was the head of the physics department when I started at Iowa State. I didn't really know him very well, but he was such a positive presence for we who were undergraduates at that time. A couple of specifics come to mind.
I remember a gathering in his home one evening when I was a freshman or maybe a sophomore. There was no special program or agenda that night. I think a large fraction of the physics department was there. We all got to know each other a bit better. Your father's outgoing nature inspired those of us who were cultivating our introverted scientist persona--to get into the spirit of the evening.
I remember one physics class when he stepped in for an "out of pocket" instructor. We didn't really cover anything from the course's text that day. I think it turned into a class on "enthusiasm for physics". Maybe it was just a class on enthusiasm. (?)
He had recently been to an elementary school classroom. He had shared with these young people some of the basic ideas of what was then considered "modern physics". He had been very impressed by the questions and comments he received from these young students. He felt that these kids truly grasped the main "big ideas" that he was sharing. Your father was very pleased and excited by this. I'm sure most in that class were very pleased and excited by his visit.
My memory of him is very positive. He just about always "wore a smile". When I encountered him in the halls of the physics building his countenance seemed to convey, "We're very glad you're here." I realize, in retrospect, that I was very glad (and am still very glad) he was there.
Because of some medical issues a few years ago, I found myself seriously confronting my own "mortality" a bit earlier in life than I had expected I would. I'm currently doing a bit better than I was then.
I am a Christian, but recently I have been studying Buddhism. Paradoxically, this study seems to be strengthening my Christian faith. The Buddhists talk about "impermanence". So does the Bible. Somehow, the Buddhists have been helping me think more positively about my own impermanence. Here is a quote from "The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching" by Thich Nhat Hanh (page 133). [I especially recommend his little book called "Being Peace".]
Looking deeply can become a way of life. We can practice conscious breathing to help us be in touch with things and to look deeply at their impermanent nature. This practice will keep us from complaining that everything is impermanent and therefore not worth living for. Impermanence is what makes transformation possible. We should learn to say, "Long life impermanence." Thanks to impermanence, we can change suffering into joy. If we practice the art of mindful living, when things change we won't have any regrets. We can smile, because we have done our best to enjoy every moment of our life and to make others happy. When you get into an argument with someone you love, please close your eyes and visualize yourselves three hundred years from now. When you open your eyes, you will only want to take each other in your arms and acknowledge how precious each of you is. The teaching of impermanence helps us appreciate fully what is there, without attachments or forgetfulness.
I suspect that your father has much less reason for "regrets" than most of us. I very much have the sense about him that he "did his best"--and his best was very wonderful for himself and for the rest of us.
A recurring theme in the Bible is that "God numbers our days".
In the midst of my medical struggles this brought me comfort. I try to
do my best, but I don't really have "control" nor am I "responsible"
for "the length of my days". I sense that our Creator had a
lot for your father to do. Perhaps that is why your father had so many
days. Here's one of the spots where the Bible talks about impermanence.
1 Corinthians 13:8 [ New International Version (NIV) ]
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.I think each life "leaves something behind". Your father left much behind that "never fails". There is at least one thing that is not impermanent. He will be "with us" throughout our lives. The enrichment that he provided to our lives will hopefully inspire us to enrich others. Perhaps when we are gone, the positive ripples from his life will still be emanating. [ Hmmm. Perhaps metaphysics really does contain some "physics". ]
If I, who didn't really know your father very well, had so many words to share--I can scarcely imagine how much his close friends have to say. I won't be at the celebration of your father's life on January 16th in Ames. Perhaps I have already begun my celebration right here in Dallas, Texas.
All the best.
I was associated with Dan during all the years he was connected with the Ames Lavoratory. Dan was in charge of installing the synchrotron, a high energy electron accelerator, and geting it into operation. I took numerous visitors on tour of the facilityu where Dan gave a clear and concise presentation, explaining the synchrotron's research capabilities. We made a 15 minute film entitled, "The Synchrotron" in collaboration with the ISU Film Service. Dan was the narrator.
I enjoyed my association with Dan and found him a gentle man and a gentleman.
|Dana M. Craig
B.S. Physics and Philosophy, 1972
|I was saddened to hear of your father’s passing. I attended Iowa
State for part of the time he was still the chairman of the physics department.
During the winter term of 1968-1969 (we were on the quarter system then)
I and the other freshman physics majors who were thrown to the wolves in
the sophomore engineering physics series (Physics 221,222 and 223) were
privileged to have him as our recitation “instructor” twice
a week. At the time George Bowen was the lecturer for our section.
I just wanted you to know that of all the truly great physics professors we had (Leacock, Bowen, Pursey, Swenson, Sinha, Fuchs and on and on) your father stood, at least in my opinion, head and shoulders above the rest. He was a wonderful teacher who had the gift of making what initially seemed frighteningly obtuse in the lectures so amazingly lucid that we were left wondering how we could ever have been puzzled in the first place.
My memories of Dr. Zaffarano outside of the classroom are of a genuinely kind and supportive “father figure” with a terrific sense of humor. Over the years, I have often thought of him.
I share your loss.
3311 North George Mason Dr.
Arlington, VA 22207
I received my PhD in Experimental Nuclear Physics in 1969. Eastman Hatch was my major professor. My years at Ames laid the foundation for a career and life that I have enjoyed immensely. Analysis, systems engineering, and computer skills first learned as a side effect of a physics education have enabled me to work on defense, energy, and air traffic control projects. I even spent two years in the Peace Corps teaching physics at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji.
As a self-absorbed graduate student, I missed much of the 60’s -- Civil Rights, Vietnam, the space race, rock and roll. I also failed to fully appreciate the skill, grace, and joy with which Dan Zaffarano ran the Physics Department during those times of change. He was a gem. I was glad we could attend the celebration in 2002. He will be missed by everyone who knew him.
|Dr. John R. Clem||
Some recollections about Dan:
During the academic year 1966-67, Judy and I were in Munich, Germany, where I had a postdoctoral position. I had arranged a several-week trip back to the US in March 1967 for job interviews at five universities, and I also planned to spend a few days with my parents in Illinois. Ken Kliewer called me at the last minute and asked me to visit Iowa State. I said it was too late, but he was insistent, and he convinced me to cut short my visit with my parents and fly out to Ames. When I arrived in Ames, I was well received by an enthusiastic young faculty, and I remember a lively party at Eastman Hatch's home, where the whole department had turned out to meet two of us candidates for faculty positions (the other was in nuclear physics). I was impressed with Iowa State, and I decided to accept ISU's offer, should one be made. At the time, I had three offers in hand (Purdue, Wisconsin, and Duke), but I had to let them know by a certain date. When that day arrived, I still had heard no word from ISU, so Judy and I went down to the Munich post office (we had no phone in our apartment) to call Dan. I reached him in his office, and he offered me a position of assistant professor of Physics at a salary of $13,500, which was $500 less than the other three offers. Nevertheless, I accepted on the spot. When I got off the phone, I told Judy, and she broke down in tears. Although we both were from the northeast corner of Illinois, she had never been to Iowa, and unbeknownst to me, she had had her heart set on our going to the University of Wisconsin. (Ken Kliewer later told me that when I called, he and some others were in Dan's office to talk him out of resigning from the chairmanship of the department.)
As a young faculty member at ISU, Dan encouraged me to develop my musical talents. He had recruited a number of other physics folks (Eva Kinstle and Ron Fuchs and probably there were others) into the Ames Choral Society, and I also joined. In 1969, I was singing Christmas carols standing behind a German visitor, Helmut Gaertner, who was playing the piano at the Danielsons' Christmas party. He liked the sound of my voice and invited me to work with him to learn some Schubert lieder from the Winterreise. I also got my lip back in shape so that I could play some clarinet solos with him as accompanist. Later we wanted to have a little recital for our friends, and Dan and Suzy offered their home for this event in May 1970. I sang some lieder from the Winterreise and played a few clarinet solos. This positive experience led me eventually to take voice lessons for many years from Jean Thomas. These lessons helped me to develop my voice into what it is today. (However, I reached my peak singing ability probably about ten years ago.) Suzy often paid me the highest possible compliment by saying that I sounded like Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.
Yes, Dan made sure there was music in the Physics Department. I recall that we had a piano in the Physics office, at least at Christmastime. I also remember his encouraging a group of us to put together a Dixieland jazz band, and we played at one of the departmental Christmas parties. I played the clarinet, Ken Kliewer the trumpet, Fred Wohn the trombone, but I forget who the others were.
When Dan chaired the Department, he ran it like a big Italian family, and it was fun. I'll never forget his big smile, his laugh, and the good-natured way he used to encourage all of us. And he sure could smooze with the Physics wives! He was an incurable flirt, he put his arms around them, and he made the girls feel like a million dollars.
When Dan moved up to the Central Administration, he left a big hole. As faculty members, over the years we've become more productive and gotten internationally known, but we've also become a more serious and less social department. It's been a lot duller place ever since Dan moved up.
We miss him.
|Jim Hall||Dear Erica,
Martha and I were saddened to hear about the death of your dad. We only learned of this two days ago when we received the letter from the Physics Department. Unfortunately, we have friends who are already on their way from Colorado to be with us here in Houston this coming weekend. Otherwise, I would be able to attend the memorial service. We feel fortunate that we were able to attend the celebration in 2002 in honor of his 80th birthday.
Dan was a tremendous influence on my technical and personal life. When I began my graduate studies at ISU in 1964, I ask Dan if I could begin with a research assistanceship, rather than a teaching assistanceship. He agreed and assigned me to a project he had hoped to start. It was easy to see that he was very happy when he could take time out from his administrative duties and come down to the basement of the old Physics Building to help me with the research. As we encountered technical problems, his experience, coupled with his steady, thoughtful approach, helped us succeed. I was proud that my first published papers were co-authored by Dan. The research we did together was the basis for my Masters thesis and Dan served as my thesis advisor.
For my PhD research, I worked in Eastman Hatch's group at the reactor. However, before I finished, Eastman took a position on the faculty at Utah State University. Even though his administrative duties had continue to grow, Dan came to my rescue and agreed to serve again as my advisor. I was his last graduate student.
Not only did Dan show me how to approach technical projects, but he showed by example how to successfully combine a professional career with a family and cultural life. From time to time, Martha and I would attend performances of the musical and dance groups to see Dan and Suzy.
Even after leaving ISU, Dan and I always kept in touch. I will miss him greatly.
As you well know, the reactor was proposed by Frank Spedding for a long time before it was approved. Dan was Chairman of the Physics Department when funds were allocated, and he wanted there to be a strong program in physics, both nuclear and materials science. He hired new staff (myself included) to ensure that strong physics activities were pursued.
It was Dan's forward-looking thinking that led to TRISTAN being the first major new nuclear physics facility (in the world) to study mass-separated short-lived nuclei, in our case, fission-product nuclei. He recognized that the technology existed but that the pieces hadn't been put together. When he came to see me in Littleton, CO, he was interested in my having developed expertise in mass spectroscopy -- and a mass separator is just a straightforward extension of that technology (with some wrinkles, but they weren't important to the concept Dan held). Dan was extremely supportive of my efforts to develop the system, sometimes using innovative approaches in ion optics and gas transfer line high voltage standoff -- I also need to mention that he worked hard to obtain the necessary "big" bucks needed.
Also, Dan persuaded Eastman Hatch to move from Ehrling Jensen's beta spectrometers to make a bent-crystal gamma ray spectrometer for studying neutron capture gamma rays, something that had been done at Argonne -- but the CP-5 reactor was shutting down. So, the new nuclear physics efforts at the reactor were (a) the study of short-lived fission-product nuclei, and (b) neutron capture gamma-ray spectroscopy. The combined programs were quite productive, and supported Dan's visions.
You can say more than anyone else about the materials science efforts -- but there was certainly support from Dan on those projects.
I would finally comment that Dan was instrumental in making the synchrotron program a very viable effort -- he did much to obtain the second synchrotron, and to mold the group of folks there into a coherent, enthusiastic body of researchers. He was always mindful of technological advances, and lobbied successfully for us to have at the synchrotron one of the very first multichannel analyzers produced -- really an advance in the ability to do our work well. I think it was a real blow to Dan to see the synchrotron phased out. I recall his shock when George Rogosa, the DOE Nuclear Physics tzar, proclaim that the synchrotron was about as old as any race horse could become, and it was time to put down the "horse." Incidentally, the synchrotron was a 70 MeV electron accelerator (nominally 60 MeV, but extended by close attention to magnet details) -- not 60 MW.
Of course, you were chairman of the Physics Addition committee, so you can certainly do more there than I can (even though I was grateful to be a member of the committee).
I hope that the above will help you. Sorry I have been so late in responding. We just returned from a trip helping some friends celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.Our best, Will (and Mary)
| The Zaffarano family is famous family. In my experience, there are few
collections of souls which show more connectedness, love, and delightful
eccentricity and humor than they. Dan, being the patriarch, was I am sure,
responsible for much of this family’s delightful flavor. The children
he loved with Suzy were a successful hybrid of their cultural sensibilities,
and good looks, especially (to me) the girls. Families of six children are
remarkable, especially in this generation. It’s nice to have this
level of reproductive success result in a community of good people, let
alone good looking people, rather than an army of boorish homely offspring.
Dan and Suzy – you done good, real good.
Dan’s passing has given us all pause in our busy lives. The meaning of his life gives us reason again to reflect on our own anew. It has done this with me, and with my family.
Forgive me as I indulge my own process and offer some of the thoughts that have risen to consciousness in the past weeks.
Mortality is part of the great design. It is paradox. Interestingly, the more the paradox, the more soulful seems an aspect of our lives. Some people are poor stewards of their lives, their free will, and their opportunities. Accordingly mortality sometimes seems a reasonable part of the great design. There is a chance for a renewal in humanity in mortality. Awareness of our mortality offers our lives a precious value that without it some of us might not have. But some people just do so well with life that it seems to me, an amateur thinker, that the great design is somehow flawed. There are some people who sustain such love, humor and creativity, it would seem they should be given a reprieve to this mortal thing. Dan was one of these people in my view.
Death is perhaps life’s greatest abstraction. We try to visualize ourselves outside of this earthly existence using earthly experience. Religious traditions for eons have spoken of martyrs who go to a harem, or reincarnation as another human, an animal or insect, the choice being in part based on how we lived our lives. Some see themselves living in human form in cities in the clouds, the streets paved in gold, measured in staffs, and with numbered gates. Buddhists talk of a river which returns to the sea.
In reflecting after Dan’s very loving passing from this life, I can only honestly believe in this certainty – a legacy of love is not mortal. Love is what lives after we are gone. Joy is what we give back to the universe. From Dan to each of us, there was love. We are gathered here because of this. What is my best definition of love? It is “the facilitation of another’s spiritual journey” – M.Scott Peck, The Road Less Travelled. Dan’s love has every reason to be fruitful and to multiply in those lives, our lives, which he touched in a long and exuberant life and in death. His love is the most durable legacy of Dan’s life, and to honor him, if not our own sacred lives, we are called upon to pay this forward as it were. We need to remind ourselves to give away as much of this as we can and will. Everything in life is an opportunity to love, an opportunity we may often fail to recognize. Everything in this life is an opportunity to love.
Love, oddly enough is not an abstraction to most of us, although love has no physical presence, no mass, no length or velocity to measure. How can love not be an abstraction? I cannot explain the abstractions of the subatomic that creates our bodies, let alone our universe. Creating love is tantamount to alchemy – we can turn lead into gold. We can create love from nothing more than a will to make meaningful even the most mundane aspects of our existence. We do so by conscience, by experience and by example.
Dan was many things. He was a famous husband, father, friend, teacher, thinker, tinkerer, gardener, musician, joker, scientist, and leader. The list could go on. His legacy is basically assured not because he did all he did, but because he did so many of these things with love. He has facilitated my spiritual journey both in his good life and in his good death. I resolve to nurture that part of him that is now part of me. Let’s reflect on his success as a loving human companion, and his success in creating kindness amidst the relentless pressures of significant responsibility and accomplishment. With Dan as a gentle example, we too can love others we touch so that something of inestimable value can be left behind when we too are gone.
My family and I are very grateful that Dan was a part of our lives, and grateful that he will continue to be a precious part of our lives.
It’s heartwarming to see so many of the people, whose lives were touched, made better, and inspired by my Dad….…
I’m proud to have had him as my father…proud beyond measure.
I was guilty of believing that he would live forever.
No one can prepare you for the emotional journey one takes after someone you love, a piece of your heart, leaves this world.
The last month has been spent reflecting and in discovery. I’ve had the luxury of time to sift through dusty old boxes in my basement. I’ve found treasures….pictures of Dad, letters from him (which were a rarity!) and the memories flood my head.
He was so much to me. There are so many stories, so much laughter, and so many memories from growing up. My siblings and I often equate our childhood to being our Camelot.
Lucky are we.
Looking at this room full of faces many familiar, many unknown….validates that his touch was far & beyond me…and us, and my heart fills with so much pride.
His tenacity, his enjoyment of challenges, his commitment to family,
he lived with such grace, his joie de vivre, his ability to wear berets
& Greek fisherman hats with such style, his piano playing, and his
principles for life are just a few of the many gifts he bestowed upon
us as his children.
For this is how he lived his life. He was always fair, he cared deeply, and he laughed often.
He was definitely old school…..passionate about his work, hard-working, a loving husband, and responsibly raising a family. I remember a lot of laughter. He had more charm, charisma and class than any man I’ve ever known….not to mention his integrity. He championed things he believed in.
He inspired me by the example by which he lived his life.
As I channel back through the years, trying to decide on a story to share with you today (and boy was it hard to whittle down to one) I chose one that goes like this………
Nine years ago last August, my then husband and I received a postcard in the mail telling us the truck we owned, a FORD F150, was on recall because of electrical fires under the hood. Busy with work and preparing for parenthood, we disregarded the warning.
Mom, Dad and my sister Gina were among my dream team in my attempt to have a home birth. In the first week after giving birth to my daughter Emma, her father drove the truck home and just as he got up the stairs to our place…a fire began under the hood. Dad offered that we have the truck towed to Iowa; he wanted to look into the idea of rebuilding it.
My brother-in-law Jonathan came on board and they contacted FORD to tell them of the plans. FORD sent a thick manual and a note suggesting they scrap the idea as it would be too big a task.
Of course you know the answer….
With the challenge before him….the next year was spent meticulously removing each and every part from the engine. He labeled them, and laid them out in the downstairs basement on the ping pong table. It was an auto mechanics playground. After a year or so, much sleep deprivation and frustration…..
He did it. He rebuilt that truck.
There is no stronger way to teach but by example….this was my Dad.
So, I guess I wasn’t so wrong after all…..Dad will live
forever, just not in the physical sense, but in my heart and my soul.
My dad loved to laugh. He loved to have fun. He expressed his love to his family through teasing and my mother dutifully backed him up, often by playing tricks on us. When we were young, sometimes it was hard to understand…those who shall not be named reacted once or twice by grabbing a suitcase and taking off down Ross Road barefoot…mind you, the suitcase was empty and the pace slow enough to allow Mom to catch up in the car…but a statement of resentment to the teasing was duly noted!
As I grew up, I realized the value of the joke. I realized that taking oneself too seriously was detrimental to emotional and physical health and I adopted my parents’ philosophy. When we were camping, for example, we would search for the perfect spot. A place remote enough so that Dario could pull out his guitar and we could sing “The Eggplant that Ate Chicago” full tilt. That one remote campsite with few neighbors, upwind from the outhouse and close to a water source. Once secured, if there were the unfortunate, errant campers driving through in THEIR search, the call was made by the parents to “Quick, everyone, act crazy!” The six of us, who only knew respect for our parents would dutifully go momentarily bonkers, play wildly on the guitar, perhaps, run around the site like monkeys and generally make fools our ourselves to dissuade the poor travelers from parking within shouting distance.
My father…the inventor…
One year, he took on a winter project. A lover of fungus, he decided he would grow mushrooms. He filled one of the window wells in the basement with soil…added an intricate timed watering and lighting system and bought spores. He tenderly added them to the soil and started a daily log. He was justifiably proud of his system. He had done a fair amount of research and if all went well, he would see results unlike any other…the great mushroom…
We had, as most of you are aware, weekly dinner parties. The kids were all expected to act like young adults, to help serve and clean up and be on best behavior…laugh at our dad’s repeated jokes…
The culmination of the evening of food and chat was a challenge to unsuspecting dinner guests to a game of ping-pong. My father was not often defeated…he used two means to accomplish his goal of triumph. First, he stood with his back to a painted dragon…figuring that a little intimidation never hurt…and then, he would summon up great vocal control to yowl with glee when he would complete a successful volley…further intimidating the poor guest. One particular evening, we had invited distinguish guests and friends to dinner. I knew that Dad would follow his usual pattern and as he was so very proud of his potential mushroom garden, figured that I couldn’t let him down. I found a particularly wholesome shitake mushroom at HyVee and planted it for him.
Dinner ensued, and true to form, Dad invited our guests to the hole…the basement…The whole family was in on the ruse and Mom was particularly nervous and pained for my father should he find himself in an embarrassing circumstance…and she was urging me to rush down and explain the deception before he reached that point…well, darn the luck…before I could even get up from the dinner table, there was a roar of excitement issuing up from the bowels…it had been discovered…
Unfortunately, as my father opened the window and plucked the prize it fell into his hands, sans roots and his face matched its color…It was a “gottcha”, Dad…
In later years…Dad was a distinguished professor and well regarded Dean. I couldn’t envision my father is such a stuffy environment as the third floor of Beardshear Hall. He was chastised for placing his rusty old pickup in a prestigious reserved parking place and I’m sure his choice of wardrobe was often remarked upon.
One day he started receiving postcards. They came from different locations and were signed by a mysterious “Joanie”. These missives were often rather racey and suggestive, and it took a while before he would admit to them. They were suggesting that there was something untoward happening and unfitting for a Dean housed in Beardshear Hall…. My mother was first to see through the ruse…she called me…well…she called…it was me.
Dad, we had fun. From arm wrestling at the Hospice House to rolling back the rugs in the living room and and teaching your little girl to waltz…you taught me that life can be a beautiful dance.
When I think of our father two words come to my mind....teacher and
First of all, the teacher. I (speaking for myself) always hoped that when I came up against any problem with my homework assignments mom would be able to help me out. Once in a while we would both be stumped with a problem and she would say those dreaded words, "you'll have to wait until your father gets home. He will be able to help you out."
When he would walk through the door, it was always around 6 and of course in time for supper. First, the routine would be all of us sitting down for supper, mom and one end and dad at the other. Supper "conversations" would start (and this is the patience part). Dad would sit there and listen (I think) to 4 females rambling on and on and on and on (Dario would be listening) for the entire supper time. Dad would "conveniently" sit there with his eyes closed. Sometimes I think he was dosing or maybe he was just absorbing and wake up just in time for dessert.
I, or course, would only be concentrating on the last words of my mother, "wait until your father gets home" and hoping in the back of my mind somewhere, I would find the answer to whatever question mom and I couldn't figure out...begging the inner depths of my brain to pull up the answer, which I think conveniently shut down as a joke because it knew the stress I was in. Supper was over, dad would move to his chair and then the homework questions would have to come up. There was no way around it....Dad was so very patient with me. We would first try to work the problem out at his chair, he saw he was getting no where so we would usually move to the diningroom table (more room to spread papers out). After patiently working with me, he could tell by the look in my eyes that I was still lost and then the words came....let's go downstairs to the chalk board...NOOOO not the chalkboard......and down we went not to surface for hours.
We would work what seemed to be hundreds of problems over and over again. All I wanted was help with ONE....after he was finished, he would say, now do yours......and I could! Little did I know, he was teaching me how to solve it, in a round about way.
For many of you that did not know, I played the piano for several years. I always felt dad had high hopes for me in that area...after homework was time to practice the piano. All I ever wanted to do was to practice for my 1/2 hour and stop....noooo that wasn't to happen. When dad was home I couldn't even get through one measure in half an hour...I had to practice it over and over and over again and there he was patiently sitting next to me with the metronome in hand. But by the end I could play any peice I attempted. He taught me patience.
One of the many valuable pieces of advice I have come to treasure my father gave me was that you will meet one person in your life that will influence it in a positive way. With that teaching from my father that bit of knowledge is always in the back of my mind in the job I do today and I hope I have influenced at least one of the children I work with in a positive way.
Dad taught us patience up to the last few moments of his life. For days we all gathered around dad. He had silently brought us all together to share stories, laugh, cry, remember, and to get caught up on being a family. In the last few moments we were all around him, except for Dario. He left to check in at his office and get a hair cut. We waited, waited for Dario knowing time was close. Mom whispered to dad to please wait for Dario to return. We were patiently waiting, waiting with dad. As soon as Dario came to be with us, Dad seemed to smile and knew it was time to pass. With that, he left us, left us on his terms...when he was ready and when he knew his life with us and his teachings with us in this lifetime was complete.
I love you dad and I am looking forward for you to teach me what you have learned when we all join you again.....just don't let it be homework!