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Daniel J. Oberst - A Life Well Lived

dan.jpgPrinceton has lost a colleague and a cherished friend.

Dan Oberst died early morning November 9 after a year and a half battle with cancer. He worked at Princeton for nearly 20 years, during which time he was a leader in developing the University’s core computing infrastructure. He architected and delivered a set of reliable IT infrastructure services in the face of changing technologies, increasing demands, and growing threats and vulnerabilities. While his job was always challenging, he directed his group with great skill, enthusiasm and good humor. He approached his job, and his life, with insatiable curiosity, always wanting to know how things worked. He cared about the details. And he personified optimism, nowhere more so than in his fight with the disease that took him from us.

Dan’s contributions extended far beyond Princeton. He was a key player in all of the major IT forums, such as Educause and the Common Solutions Group. He contributed to the development of Bitnet (the precursor to the Internet), and, later, the Internet. At Princeton, more than anyone, he was responsible for architecting what is widely regarded as one of the finest University IT infrastructures.

Dan will be remembered as a vibrant, spirited and charming man. He will be missed by all who knew him. His life, and his contributions, will long be remembered. Princeton, Information technology, and all of Higher Education, has lost an important colleague and a cherished friend.

This blog has been established as a way for those who knew and loved Dan to share their memories and to celebrate the life of this very special man. Please feel free to comment or use the link on the right to submit a story.

Comments (106)

Michael Gettes:

Subject: Dan Oberst
Date: November 9, 2006 11:42:07 EST

I hope you will forgive me for expressing myself about Dan.

Dan allowed me to visit with him for a couple of hours 2 weeks ago
today at UPenn hospital. It was a great visit. Physically he looked
like he was still fighting but mentally - he was Dan! Vibrant, funny, very thoughtful
and just so damn nice! I have been keeping up with Dan for many months
via his blog at
Dan's humor comes through in his blog even during his terrific battle.
If there was anyone I would want to have by my side
during a life or death battle - Dan would certainly come to mind.

This summer he spent some time on Cape Cod and wrote about it in his blog.
I asked him to tell me more about it. As he described it I noticed the
pleasure and peace about him as he recalled how it felt to listen to the
wind. It wasn't the details and description he used - it was how he felt
and how he made me feel as he described it. I was there with him. It was a
beautiful place to be. I noticed neither of us was at the hospital as
he recalled the wind and as he went on to describe times he had with his
son at a NASCAR race and other great memories over the last many months.

We talked about a lot of stuff. He noted how I have changed since I left
Princeton and we also talked about how he has changed too. Without saying it,
I think we agreed we would have liked to work with each other again. We
would probably drive each other crazy - but it would be okay. Dan continued
to work during his fight. I think some didn't fully appreciate this about
Dan. Dan didn't just go to work. Dan truly loved what he did. There was
the intensity, desire to have fun and sheer joy about learning, helping and
doing. It was impossible not to see this in him. He deeply loved the people
he worked with at Princeton. He was very sad he could not make it to Victor
Bearg's retirement party that evening.

Dan came to visit me 8 years ago just a couple of days after my surgery.
I was specifically told by my doctors not to laugh since my chest had been split.
Of course, Dan comes bouncing in - smiling and joyous. I remember this vividly.
I have no recollection of what Dan said to me but I know how much we laughed
and how truly painful it was - I asked him to stop and he wouldn't. It was just
great. When Dan left I was so sad because it was great fun to have that much pain.
It was because of that visit with Dan I decided I would do that which terrified
me most - ride roller coasters. I have done so many times since and it still
terrifies me but I have so much fun being terrified. Thanks Dan!

Dan asked me to walk with him around the floor - he needed to get the exercise.
As I did so I recognized how proud I was to be with him. He allowed me to help
him and I think he allowed me to feel as though I was paying him back for what he did
for me 8 years earlier. As I recall now what he did for me with this act (and
it brings me to tears) I know it will be a great memory and will make me more than
I am now.

Dan - I will miss you greatly. I can't imagine how those who have had the
pleasure of seeing you nearly every day around Princeton feel right now. All
I can say is remember him riding his bike - running around the hallways at 87
prospect - laughing at his own jokes and the endless other things he did to
bring joy to you every single day.

We should all be as vibrant as he and enjoy life like Dan.

Dan - it is you who is the good man!

Rest in peace. I will listen for you in the wind.


Larry Levine:

I knew Dan as a fellow IT professional through mutual friends and through many meetings, conferences, and visits to Princeton over the years. Dan stood out for me as an exceptional person in two ways. Everyone who knew him that I know always held Dan in high esteem and with great respect so that even before I'd met him I knew he was one of our IT luminaries. Coming to know Dan as a colleague over the years he was someone to whom I gravitated to discuss issues, and to ask questions, which he always tolerated so well, taking the time to discuss and explain so that I always learned from him. I'll miss him.

Rita Seplowitz Saltz:

Dan: wit, passion, intelligence, humor, determination, compassion, valor. An original. One of a kind. His loss is so strong and large an absence that it acts instead as a major presence. He always will be with us, and we were blessed to have known him and worked with him.

Carol Morea:

I grew to know and love Dan as a caring, wonderful person. Dan was very down to earth and extremely easy to speak with. When my daughter Kelly was diagnosed with cancer, I turned to Dan for guidance and he helped my family so much. He advised me of what to do and where to start looking for help for Kelly. Dan always stopped by my office to ask how Kelly was doing and to send his regards. Here are his last words of advice to Kelly - "to take one step at a time and tackle each problem as it arises and then move on". I will miss him dearly! I only wish I knew him longer but feel so lucky that he touched our lives! What a fantastic memory of Dan!

Shel Waggener:

It was 2003 and I was a new member to the Common Solutions Group - and in fact new to higher education. I was a bit uncertain how to best fit into the group. The group was made up of obviously very close colleagues, so how was a new person going to be received? Dan was one of the first to welcome me with open and enthusiastic arms. His infection grin and leading the way, Dan to extended a helping hand of welcome and encouragement to me explaining CSG and its role in the broader community. He helped show me why Higher Ed can be so different from private sector- the sincere interest on everyone's part to help each other (professional and personally). Dan is one of those that not only believed in that concept but actively promoted it every day in all he did. I feel fortunate to have known him even if only for a few brief years.

Rich, Jane, & Rick Pickett:

Jane, Rick, and I have had the pleasure of knowing Dan and his family for many years. During that time Dan has been a colleague, mentor, and friend. I knew that I could always call upon Dan for his help whether it was for his vast technical knowledge, or just to talk things through, he was always there. We were fortunate to have spent the day with him at the hospital two weeks ago. The walks around the floor were short however we enjoyed the time and only wished that it could have lasted longer.

As Mike mentioned Dan was always the optimist, always thinking of others. Even though he was ill, he wanted to be a reference for a position I was pursuing. I know his generous statements were instrumental in that successful pursuit.

I remember Dan's first surgery. Jane, Marti, Betty, John, and I were at the hospital the night before. Dan wanted to look at his xrays with me. In his hospital gown, he placed the films up on the viewer in his room. We spent several minutes looking for the tumor (I think Dan thought we could remove it ourselves). Dan finally told me 'I found it'. I looked closer and noticed two spots, one on each side. I told Dan those were his ears! Thank goodness we weren't the surgeons.

Knowing Dan, he is probably somewhere determining how he can still help others and eating Durian. We miss him very much and will always remember him.

Janice Guarnieri:

Dan was and always will be an inspiration to us all as a professional and especially over the past year as a very willful man. I never had the opportunity to work closely with Dan, but I certainly had the pleasure of knowing him. I always looked forward to hearing him speak anytime he was on the agenda always ready to show off his new techno "toys". His sense of humor was relentless and his laugh infectious.

I marveled at his wonderful wit and unending faith over the past year and a half. Dan will be deeply missed but I am positive that his spirit will never die in OIT or at Princeton.

Russell Wells:

Dan and I were partners. I know that because whenever he saw me he'd greet me with "hey partner".

We were teammates in the Princeton University Golf League; in the "B" league, although we were decidedly "C" league material, if there was one. He was a great partner. Not a golfer, like me he was a terrible golfer. That is if you think that the point of it is to win. But if you measure the game by how much enjoyment you get from it, Dan was a great golfer. I learned a lot from Dan, not his swing, that was awful, but his grace and demeanor and enthusiasm. I'd watch him hacking and slashing, sending clouds of dirt into the air, taking up divots the size of beaver pelts and he never seemed bothered by it. In fact we'd laugh about it. We were getting twice as much exercise as everyone else; we covered more ground, took more swings and found more balls. It was a hoot!

I use to tease him about his clubs (I think that they were Bobby Jones' grandfathers clubs). I told him that I couldn't believe that a technology guy like him wouldn't want to take advantage of at least post WWII advances in golf technology. But he said "his clubs suited his game". Finally Marti got him a new set of clubs. I told him that I thought they improved his game, he just said that they were heavier to carry.

Well, then Dan got sick and we dropped out of the league. I may join again someday, but I'll never have another "partner" like Dan.

Gavin Eadie:

I first met Dan shortly after I moved to the US from the UK in 1979. I was working for the Merit Network in Michigan and was asked to contribute to the work of the Mailnet Project - a project to move email from campus to campus by having a modem at MIT phone to modems at all the participating universities twice a day to pick up and drop off email.

Dan's enthusiasm and friendship made that project a lot of fun, and maybe our shared celtic heritage (my beard was once red too!) made me feel very much at home around him.

All that was 25 years ago. Of late, our paths have crossed at CSG meetings and, as others have noted here, it was wonderful to be around him and his sense of fun and pleasure in this IT business.

I'll remember him fondly, and my sympathies go to his family, friends and colleages.

Lorene Lavora:

Dan became my boss four months after I arrived here at Princeton in the beginning of 1999. That was late spring and my group at that time (Web Services) was moving from an academic affiliation into an organization that included the latest buzzword - "infrastructure" - in its name. We all carefully danced, getting to know one another, what we did and what would be expected. Then, one warm day, came the invitation to come over to the little house across the street to experience durian in the backyard. It became clear that this was going to be a wild ride. And it was for the five years that we worked for him. There were times that we all butted heads, but, in the end, you've gotta love a guy who religiously attends the NYC performances of "Prairie Home Companion."

Dan was my kind of person - a galloping liberal, always ready to help. In December of 2000, my house flooded while I was away during the holiday week. It resembled something from "the Nutcracker" outside, all iced over, but looked and felt like a tropical hot house inside, vermiculite insulation floating throughout. First person on the scene? Dan, of course. He arrived with all kinds of gizmos (naturally) and got right in there and bailed with us.

Later that year, he and I were to attend a meeting at Brown on things web related. It was a biblically windy day and I was already ill with some bug or another. We got on a tiny prop plane and, about twenty minutes in, the fun began. It must suffice to say that I have never been and hope to never again be as sick as I was on that trip. So much so, that I really could not walk out of the airport. Dan never missed a beat, found the nearest hotel, and deposited me there and went to the meeting. I felt like someone with a lethal hangover who missed the fun that should have preceded. When I could pick my head up enough to think, I frantically searched for some - ANY - kind of alternative transportation. It became clear that there was none and that, if I was going to get back home that night, it would be on one of those planes. Dan picked me up and we nervously headed to the airport. He got up and left me for a few minutes and came back with an array of every airsickness prevention potion or device that he could buy. Amongst them, was a set of wrist bands that I still take along whenever I fly. (They came in handy on a flight when I could offer them to a young woman having a hard time on our descent into Denver.) I made it back in one piece. He later told me that quite a few folks at the meeting had had a hard time with their flights and he said to me that he couldn't believe I had the guts to get back on that plane. I wouldn't have were it not for his ministry.

Dan had a wicked sense of humor. I loved talking politics with him or hearing the latest Jake stories. ("They've got a poster of Jake up at the post office now!") And he loved a good time. The EIS holiday parties in particular stand out for two reasons: the fun and the opportunity it gave us over the years to get to know Dan's family. (Thanks for that, Dan.) They personify what a family can be. The unity and optimism is just overwhelming and, I am certain, that it is what has helped them through this past year.

Dan - I hope they're playing Beausoleil wherever you are and, when BlackBerry's reach the next level, we'll attempt to IM you. Marti, Jesse, Caleb and Keturah - all our love to you. We all know how much we miss him and can only attempt to understand your loss. But how lucky for all of us that that we got to take that ride with him.

-Lorene (and Drina)

Robert Hebditch:

That Dan was a caring person has been well attested here and elsewhere, that he was lively and energetic beyond what most of the rest of us could ever hope to be, that he was filled with curiosity about just about everything and that he was extraordinarily witty and humorous is unarguable.

When I arrived at the university, I was quite unsure about what would be expected of me, but Dan, through his "management by walking around" visits, was among the first to put me at my ease. No pretense about Dan - he certainly was accomplished and had many excellent qualities - but he was also a regular guy. He was the kind of man with whom it was easy to relax, to find common ground - he had done so much, he was so understanding. Within very few conversations we found we had both been in Malaya at roughly the same time - how he managed to enjoy durian I'll never know - that we had an abiding interest in things British and particularly the regatta's at Henley (and the pints of bitter quaffed there) and that we both had an unquenchable liberal sensibility.

This past year has show us the best of Dan, his indominable spirit, his matter of fact manner when describing horribly torturous and debilitating treatment and with such dignity and humor. He never seemed afraid or felt sorry for himself, as many of us might. Even if you did not know Dan, you would know from the way he carried himself throughout, that you are looking at an extraordinary man, at a man of unquestioned character and an example to us all.

He is quite simply irreplaceable and will be sorely missed

Dear Dad,
I hope you can see this. The day we left you the sun was shinning. Nick Donahue said something along the lines of: the sun is shinning because the Angels are happy. I will miss you dad. You were a great father. I have the boys to watch me. Alot of people are comming over. You ment alot dad. You did. I will always be your grown (little) girl. We are both fighters, and you fought, hard. I miss you Dad. I love you. May you be comfortable in the arms of your mother and father now. I will see you again, Dad. I love you.

RIP Daniel John Oberst
April 24th 1948 - November 9th 2006

Keturah Harriet Richmond Oberst

Richard Katz:

I just love this blog. Reading everyone's comments brings Dan vividly to mind. He did indeed live large and deserves every bit of the heartfelt praise you all are according him. I remember Dan as warm, smart, and engaging ... with a puckish sense of humor. He was active in our professional community and earned everyone's respect and was a ready friend.

Dan's daughter's note brought me to tears and reminded me so well of Dan's courage. I saw him not so long ago and managed to convince myself that he had turned the corner. My hopefulness meets Dan's fighting spirit. Of course now I kick myself for not being more discerning.

I'll miss you Dan. I will always remember you as a man of character, warmth, and constant good cheer. You brightened my life and clearly you did so for a lot of people.


Frank Ferrara:

My fondest memories with Dan actually started on the squash court. We played in round robin format with Ira Fuchs, Serge Goldstein, Dan and myself. I had several years of age on all of these folks. Dan was like a bumble bee on the court and it seems as if he was everywhere at once. He never gave up on a point.

I always marveled at the way Dan could talk to anyone about anything and at their level. Dan was loved by many and we are all very fortunate to have known him.

We thank the Lord for his presence and his ability to make everyone feel good regardless of how he felt.

Betty Leydon:

As I read these beautiful tributes to Dan, I realize that we all knew Dan in different contexts. I had the privilege of knowing Dan for 5 1/2 years as the leader of Princeton's Enterprise Infrastructure Services, a manager, a colleague, and a friend. Dan was so important to me and to Princeton, and shortly before he died, I wrote him a note to try to tell him that. I thought I'd share that note, so others would know how important Dan was to Princeton's IT and to all the people at Princeton whose lives he touched.

Date: Tue, 7 Nov 2006 21:33:40 -0500 (EST)
From: Betty Leydon
To: Daniel J. Oberst


I'm feeling the need tonight to let you know what a terrific person you are. You are not only great at what you do, you are a wonderfully generous and caring person. You have helped your staff to grow and succeed, which, as we know, is not easy with a bunch of geeks!

I think you know how much I have depended on you since I came to Princeton. You lead the most complex and technically challenging area of OIT and have somehow figured out how to move our technology infrastructure forward in ways that have made a huge difference to Princeton, even though most people (me included sometimes!) may not have understood why we needed to go in that direction.

As I know you know, people sometimes don't realize all the good we've done in the area of infrastructure, but, recently, thanks to your leadership and the efforts of the folks in EIS, the senior administration has, for the first time, understood the significance of IT and the fact that it is really a strategic asset to the University. Because of this, we will finally have a new machine room and an expanded disaster recovery site (with generators to boot!). No small accomplishment.

So many folks in EIS, OIT, and across campus want you to know how much you mean to them. Many have wanted to call or visit, but realize that it would probably be too tiring for you right now. I just want you to know that there are many, many people who send their love and who are thinking of you and wishing you well.

Love to you and Marti, Betty


If Dan is reading these postings, he will know how much he will be missed by all of us:


You make me want to be a better person. I have never known anyone who loved life as much as you did and who lived it with such joy, passion and courage. I will miss you terribly, but you will always be in my heart.


Rick Pickett:
"The only thing we know about the future is that it will be different"
- Peter Drucker

I've been fortunate to have very few people close to me pass on to the ethereal whole. The past two, including Dan's, have been due to cancer. Both were men of great passion, generosity and strength. Neither of them could fathom putting themselves first, ahead others' sake. I'm deeply saddened that we have lost them both. Hopefully there are a multitude like them in the pipeline.

My strongest memory of Dan, and Marti, Caleb and Keturah, was at Lawrenceville School Parents' Day (or something of the sort). I know I met Dan before at OIT (or whatever acronym was "in" at the time) but it was short-sweet. This time I was able to see a proud father, loving husband and devoted friend. A man who could grill you with the best of them in order to help you find out your philosophy, interests and identity. An unfaltering gaze of genuine intrigue almost made me shy away for fear of not meeting expectations. But now I see that his powerful eye-contact and questioning was for our mutual benefit. To help me explain myself and for him to know more about me, just in case I needed something down the road, Dan would be able to pull out his trinket of knowledge and bail me out. ;)

I have a wonderful gift from Dan and Marti. It's a hand made wire sculpture of two people on a bicycle. Dan knew of my love for two-wheels because he listened and cared. I can't thank him enough.

Marti, Jesse, Caleb and Keturah - forever be proud of your father's fighting spirit and kindness.

sonya richmond:

i have much to thank dan for--my daughter's happiness;three wonderful grandchilden and being the son i never gave birth to----his goodness,his generosity [he gave so much of himself to all in need], his infectious love of life and his bravery thru this terrible ordeal, protecting those he loved and those whjoloved him.

say hi to grampa and set up a foursome for when the weather breaks.

love,mom r

Patty Gertz:

Dan and I go way back at Princeton. One of my first meetings with him, while he was head of ATA, we were looking at future technologies. He began, and I followed the conversation for about 90 seconds before I was totally out of my league. He may as well have been speaking Ancient Greek or Japanese. I wrote down every word he said and went home to do enough research to understand it. I figured the day I could hold my own in a technical conversation with Dan would be a great day.
Eventually I could speak geek, but I never stopped learning from him.

Marlene Stern:

Words can't explain my sadness when I received the call that Dan had passed away. Dan meant so much to me. I've known him for approximately twenty years, and we shared so much, especially during the time that our daughters were both ill. We used to joke about knowing the names of the janitors at the Childrens' Hospital. As Lindsay grew and went into remission, Dan would often stop in my office to tell me that he had seen Lindsay's picture and/or name in the newspaper in the swimming articles. He told me many times how proud he was of me, saying that Lindsay's success was a reflection of our persistence in advocating for her disease. I remember one day three years ago, Lindsay had to recite a prayer in Hebrew at our synagogue's Yom Kippur services. I was so concerned and nervous that because of her compromised voice, the Congregation wouldn't be able to understand her. Dan and his family happened to be attending that service, and the next morning, he came to my office to tell me what a wonderful job Lindsay had done, and how mature she now was. I was so relieved that he could hear her.

Dan was an inspiration to all of us. Even during his illness, he lived every moment to the fullest, and always made us smile. He gave us our strength, as we watched the cancer take over his body. He was always telling jokes, and never let us know how poorly he must have been feeling. His bravery and courage were remarkable. I will miss him terribly.
I've come to realize that even though I am grieving the loss of our great Director and friend, I will also celebrate that I had the privilege of knowing such a wonderful man. Marlene

And as Dan would say it: Look Ma, No Wires!!!!

Greg Conderacci:

I will always remember Dan as a star.

He and I went to the same elementary and high schools and had many friends in common. His brother Gene is a classmate of mine.

Dan was a member of the first or "pioneer" class to graduate from our high school - and he was a leader in many ways. Whether in the classroom or on the gridiron or wrestling mat, he was a standout both in performance and in character. He had a humility and sense of humor that at the same time set him apart and made him easy to befriend.

I suppose that I have seen Dan once or twice in the last 40 years. Yet know that I will never forget him. From what I read here, he left that kind of indelible mark on a lot of folks.

keith silva:

I'm from Dan's Salinas, Californnia past (1972).

I stayed with he, Marti & Jake some years ago in their low ceilinged revolutionary era home (built for small people but now inhabited by big caliber and equally revolutionary Dan & Marti...).

On a bright blue cold Sunday morning, over the Oberst household's ever present kitchen morning NPR babble & NYTimes, Dan announced to me that today he was my personal TourLeader! He asked "What do you want to do?": Like a kid in a new candy store I eagerly replied that I wanted to see The Most Culturally Diverse 'hood in NYC ...

Two minutes later Dan informed me of our destination (Queens i.e Russian Mob + new Jews + Puerto Ricans): I - amazed - asked HOW he knew this was NYC's biggest melt pot???: He then showed me - on his always on/always with laptop - Google: My life's not been the same since!

In fact all my interactions (sparse as they were) with Dan over the years were like the above. Thus I listened and queried Dan carefully and completely whenever we met 'cause any one of his comments could - for me - be life altering!!

He was a LifeAltering kinda guy!!

Sue Spall:

In my whole life I have never met another person quite like Dan and probably never will.

I am writing as 1966 classmate of Dan's from Bishop Kearney High School in Rochester, NY. Dan and I, along with about 10-12 other students, waited at the corner of Portland and Clifford Avenue to catch the bus for school.

From the minute Dan stepped into school freshman year everyone knew that Dan was special.
Dan was, without a doubt, the most outstanding member of our class! He was the model student for BK during the founding years of a brand new high school.
He was "Mr. Everything"! There was not one thing that he did not excel at.
He was one of the top students (if not thee top student), student council president for almost every year, athletic, musical, fun, good looking, but most of all had the respect from every single student in the class.
If anything needed to be done, Dan was the man. He lived up to the school's motto "Fac Omnia Bene", Dan did "all things well".

Dan never missed a class reunion. We celebrated our 40th on October 7th, this time Dan did not show. We all wondered where Dan was, no one knew just how sick he was. We all missed Dan that night.

To Marti and all the Oberst family, you all are the lucky ones to have had Dan as a special part of your lives for all these years.

Dan, you will be greatly missed, but never ever forgotten.

Sue Bartash Spall

Albert Ortiz:

Dan and I go back 35 beautiful years. We saw each other often although we inhabited opposite coasts. Each visit brought joy to me, my family and other friends from our Tacher Corps - Peace Corps days together.

Only last Monday I emailed Dan if he was up for a phone call from me and he send me a blackberry reply, "...let's rely on telepathy instead."

At that moment, I knew we would not speak or meet again and my heart exploded. I will be forever saddened by his passing and grateful for his life.

Well, Dan, since you believe in telepathy, you must be hearing all of my thoughts and feeling all of my tears.

Remember all of the things that happen "up there" because I want to hear all of the stories if I am fortunate enough to meet you again....and remember me, too.

All my love, Albert

Alan Usas, Brown University:

Dan came to work at Princeton just about the time I was leaving for California and industry jobs. So, I never met him until I returned to higher ed and attended my first CSG meeting 3 years ago. Well, to an observer of that introduction, you would think we'd been fast friends for our entire lives! When Dan learned I was an alum and former staff member, he found every chance he could to tell me about all the neat toys and tools he and others had brought to the campus. He also was up to date on general campus news and became a source for the real story behind today's Princeton.

His infectious laughter was notably missing from the UDel CSG meeting as was his rapid-fire delivery on subjects both technical and not. It's going to take me some time to adjust to his absence from future meetings although I know he'll be there in spirit. Dan was one of the finest combinations of IT professional and human being I'm likely to ever know.

Carlene (Kalifa) Sobrino Bonnivier:

"Teacher Corps Dan (1971-72): In Salinas Dan liked to wear tie-dyed clothing, preferably purple and pink. His hair was red and his bicycle was lavender. The sight of him, racing past like a color wheel at full tilt, couldn't help but lift your spirits. That's what Dan did all the time.
Not everyone saw it that way, however, and not too long after Dan started teaching at El Sausal Junior High School, a dress code was posted in the faculty room. Dan knew of course that it was meant for him and he responded personally and totally in character: He showed up at school wearing a rented, badly wrinkled, tuxedo and a tie (something outrageous; might have been the Rolling Stones logo--so that he had one big tongue wagging out from under his chin). And, as they were not listed in the dressing code, Dan was careful not to wear a shirt or shoes.
Yes, I believe he was called into the Principal's office. I believe "they" wanted to throw him out and close the door on his teaching career. I believe Dale Kinsley and/or Joe Blackman had to intervene and convince both the school and Dan that it would be good to work out a compromise, and they did. By the time he left Salinas, everyone at El Sausal, especially the students and even the administrators, were very sorry to see him go.
Of all the Teacher Corps-Peace Corps memories I have of Dan, this is my favorite. I imagine him, now, showing up at the gates of heaven wearing something outrageous and those gates swinging wide open to receive him, a rainbow of energy pedaling in on his lavender bicycle."

Jim Kohlmoos:

Our students in our eighth grade humanities class at El Sausal Junior High School in Salinas CA in 1972 called him Mr O because he was oh sooooo good as a teacher. And he was oh soooooo good at so many things big and small in life: a linguist, a singer, a photographer, a guitarist, a scientist, philosopher-king ... a colleague, a friend. He left a piece of himself with each of us...sort of like leaving clues about the whole oh soooo good human being who continues to live in each of us. Thanks oh soooo much, Mr O!

Nancy Costa:

We will remember Dan in the rising of the sun,
We will remember Dan in the blowing of the wind,
We will remember Dan in the starry nights,

We will remember Dan when we are weary and in need of strength,
We will remember Dan when we have joys and yearn to share,
We will remember Dan so long as we live - he too shall live - for he is now part of us...

Tom Steen:

Dan meant no disrespect. It was just that his active mind and imagination were always probing the limits of possibility. Boundaries were a challenge. To Dan they limited what might be, and were thus open to testing, pushing back or breaching where possible to meet a need or solve a problem. A small example: Dan enjoyed practicing his spoken French. In Salinas, 1972, there weren't many possibilities for striking up conversations with French-speaking folks. Dan's solution? He would place a free long-distance call for telephone information in Quebec and try to engage the operator in a conversation. Often he succeeded. Often he helped brighten a boring workday for someone in far off Canada. Often he helped brighten a workday for those of us who had the pleasure of working alongside him.

Serge Goldstein:

In the nearly twenty years I knew Dan, I never saw him frown. That in and of itself is pretty remarkable, but when you consider that Dan was often in the thick of the IT fray, it's truly amazing. He exuded optimism, but it was an optimism tempered with a nuanced and knowing pragmatism. Dan didn't just see the glass half full, he saw ways to keep the glass from ever being fully drained (and, of course, those who knew Dan well will know that we're talking Chateau Lafitte here, not Riunite). Being around him, you got the sense that he just enjoyed life, which makes his death so confounding.

He was a wonderful story teller, and my fondest memories of him will be of the times I sat in his office and listened to him regale me with some tale which inevitably involved the foibles of our fellow man. Dan conveyed his keen appreciation of the vagaries of life with warmth and humor and unfailing good cheer. He was the guy you wanted to be sitting next to on the plane when the captain announced that the engines had died, because he'd buoy your spirits (and just possibly figure out how to restart them by jerry-rigging them with his blackberry).

I'm proud to say that he was my friend. I will miss his smile, his laugh, and his spirit, which must surely be in a better place.

Annie Saunders:

I smiled (through the tears) when I read Patty's words about the language of "geek" and Dan's fluency in techno-speak. For me, at Princeton, there has always been the supreme triumvirate of Dan, Serge, and Ira when it comes to the smartest technical people I've ever met (I'm their squash groupie, too). Dan's office in 87 Prospect is hallowed ground - where ivy meets apples and old school technology sits next to handheld wifi devices. I will never, ever, forget sitting with him as he taught me that the dirty, dusty, machine under his desk, behind a pile of books, was the failover machine for the Princeton main web page should the machine room go belly. He smiled and was supremely confident that it would not fail. I smiled too, with complete confidence he was correct. What a brilliant man.
I hope that all these words, from so many different people, provide some small support to his family in this time of sadness.

Brett & Dale Angney:

I (Dale) first knew Dan and Marti at Teachers College. Dan was a statistics lab instructor. Marti life guarded and sometimes worked the TC reception desk. A year and a half after we married, Dan and Marti showed up at ETS, married and carrying Caleb, who had been born a week after our daughter. Dan had just landed at position at Educom.

It was the beginning of a wonderful few years as two young families starting out. Caleb and our daughter Elizabeth became good buddies. We watched Caleb the day Jesse was born. There were many memorable visits to Dan & Marti's abode at the Boychoir School, then their home in Lawrenceville. It was a time of laughter and high hopes.

Eventually we left the area, lived in New York and then Cleveland. Dan & Marti and the boys visited us in New York. (We have some great bath tub photos of the kids.) One memorable weekend we met in Buffalo, spent the day at Niagara Falls and spent the night in a luxury suite in Buffalo.

When it came time to write a will, we thought about who our children should be with if something were to happen to us. Dan and Marti seemed the ideal choice. There was no one else who could give our kids the care, the love, the joy, the humor--just the right environment to grow up--if we weren't here to do it.

I (Dale) am so very grateful that I had a chance to have dinner with Dand and Marti this past summer. Dan had talked and e-mailed about his illness. It seemed like he was reassuring us that he was going to beat it. Seeing the same enthusiastic, warm, and humorous man enjoying his fish in that Philadelphia restaurant, I came to believe it.

A bright light has gone out. But we were damned lucky to have known him.

Jerry Oberst:

No matter how busy or how far away, Dan always made time for family a priority. And Dan always wanted to share his world with us. When Dan was in Malaysia with the Peace Corps he bought plane tickets to send mom and dad to visit him there. As much as they wanted to see Dan, mom was quite a homebody and took some convincing to go. But eventually they took him up on his offer and had the trip of their life. Dan showed mom and dad all the sights, shared with them his work and introduced them to many of the good friends he had made there. After the trip they understood even better just how special the Peace Corps and Malaysia was to Dan.

Over the years no matter how busy, Dan and his family found time to be with their extended family for holidays, cookouts, family camping, celebrations and remembrances alike. Dan also made time to be with his brothers for golf (sort of) outings and almost any type of event that included lots of conversation and cold beer. Dan took great pride in the accomplishments of Marti, Caleb, Jesse and Keturah and similarly valued the accomplishments of his extended family. Whenever he could Dan also made time on his schedule to meet with his nieces and nephews at their college campuses, just to learn more about their world.

Dan -- what a life, what an example you've been!

Eric Watterud:

Salinas, 71-72
Forty "long hairs" invading a small agricultural community, seeking to make a change. Many of us with our first job and life away from campus experience. While some of us were perfecting teriaki marinade, Dan preferred leprechaun green food coloring on his chicken. Strong bonds were formed and lasted to the end. Whenever Dan made it to the west coast for work or pleasure, the word spread quickly and joyous gatherings ensued. Grown men would fight for the privilege of having Dan as their house guest. Nothing could be finer than sharing one last bottle and story, nothing better than knowing that Dan would be there in the morning for breakfast and more conversation. Dan was the one who had the most recent news of anyone from our group. He was the conduit through which all information passed. Dan, you will be missed, but honored, forever.

dan young:

As a BKHS classmate of Dan's I almost feel like a trespasser in Dan's "real life", being forty years removed from him except for a few reunions. May you all know, that even in high school it was difficult to escape the "Oberst Effect". He was omnipresent and, as Sue Bartash Spall, another of our classmates, noted above, Dan embodied our school's motto: FAC OMNIA BENE then, and as is evidenced by all of your messages,always.

I leave it to another classmate, Greg Wroblewski, to put his finger right on what I remember most about Dan. Greg remarks on our high school website, "Pioneer", that Dan was, for all of his talent and accomplishments, refreshingly devoid of ego. How true.

John Sophy:

Dan was a creative, intelligent, one of a kind man. He was approachable and caring. He also had the ability to always look at the big picture. He would stop by my office at 87 often on his way upstairs to show me his latest gadget, ask a technical question, or just chat. Last week I was away at the Exchange Connections Conference and Dan was in my thoughts, as I knew he wasn't doing well. While walking around at the vendor fair on Wednesday evening I noticed a product that sync's Exchange public folder data to a Blackberry or PDA device. I told the vendor that our director Dan Oberst had asked me about this capability 6 month ago, and that he actually figured out how to do it on his own. Dan discovered that by copying the public folder down under one of his email folders and that he could see the Public folder on his Blackberry. The vendor said that is exactly how our software works. I received the news that Dan had passed away the next day. Dan always challenged me to think outside the box. His incredible strengthen, humor, and optimism made him a wonderful person and leader. God bless you Dan, I will miss you.

Colin Currie:

Dan approached his illness with the same qualities he approached his entire life; grace, wisdom, patience, and unfailing optimism. What a lesson on how to live life in times both good and difficult.

I will always be grateful to Dan for the openness of his nature, the brilliance of his mind, and the unselfish way he constantly strove to make things the best they could possibly be. No one who worked with Dan could fail to recognize the tremendous impact he had on the exceptional computing environment he and his team built at Princeton University. No one who knew Dan could fail to recognize his extraordinary warmth and the depth of his uncompromising character.

My favorite memory of Dan will always be a rollercoaster ride we took together in the fall of 2003. Strapped into our seats while waiting for our ride to begin, we continued our discussion of some technical matter related to work. The moment the ride began, however, Dan let out a long and loud "WHOOPIE!" and didn't stop laughing gleefully until the ride was completed. In the next instant he was right back to his typically brilliant and insightful observations on whatever it was we were discussing, picking up exactly where he had left off.

What a joy and privilege it was to know Dan and to call him a friend. He was truly an inspiration and someone whose example I will aspire to emulate for years to come.

Paula Hulick:

I wish I knew Dan better and for a longer amount of time. I was amazed at how much he remembered about places to eat in Hawaii. I swear he must have memorized every single menu and his favorite entrees.

What I did know about him was that he was funny, quick-witted, caring and great to be around. My heart breaks for his family & close friends.

Randall Macksamie:

I join a number of our classmates from Bishop Kearney High School in celebrating the life of our friend Dan. My first memory of Dan goes back to freshman year football tryouts. That was my introduction to the incredible spirit of Dan Oberst. Dan must have been 135 pounds soaking wet, but there was nobody tougher and he quickly became our captain and leader. Dan simply loved to compete and he was the best sportsman I have ever known. I recall one particular game against Bishop Gibbons of Schenectady our junior year that we were losing rather badly. Gibbons was a big team and, unfortunately, fast as well. It was getting late in the game. We were on defense and pretty tired. I was at tackle and Dan was our freelance linebacker. The position was called "Monster Man" and Dan absolutely loved being him. Gibbons ran what we used to call a student body sweep. I was running left to make a play when suddenly a body flies over my head and I mean way over my head. Dan had been hit so hard that he was literally launched. The rest of the play is a memory blur for me, but I will never forget what happened next. Dan called the defensive plays. We huddled up and in comes Dan with the biggest bloody smile I have ever seen, and I mean bloody literally. And he is growling and laughing and simply having a ball. I believe that is how Dan lived his life....fearlessly and with great joy.

Joel Nowak:

There was a very wise man who used to take walks along the beach each morning to greet the rising sun.

One morning I happened to also be on the beach and I spotted him off in the distance. What caught my eye was that he seemed to be dancing at the water's edge.

As I got closer to him I realized that he wasn't realy dancing, but instead was reaching down to the beach, picking up a star fish and then very gently throwing them back into the ocean.

When I was close enough I called out "Good morning. What are you doing?"

He paused, looked up at me and said "Throwing starfish in the ocean. The sun is coming up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them back they will die."

I said to him, "But there are miles of beach and starfish all along it. You can't possibly make a difference!"

The young man listened politely, bent over and picked up another starfish and threw it back into the ocean. He then looked at me and said "It made a difference for that one."

Dan has made the world a better place.

I will miss you, Dan

Jon Edwards:

Was it really that long ago ... Dan and Marti were faculty Fellows at Stevenson Hall and our kids used to play there together...

He had a habit of showing up at our office doors and sharing cutting edge software, some of which actually worked.

Or just heading out to sample the exotic cuisine at some new restaurant...

He delighted in talking about his Malaysia days... that first meal in the market place when he ordered soup ... not realizing that it was the hot sauce for other dishes.

Our hearts are heavy...

Michael Gettes:

Dan humor...

You know he would be chuckling at the fact he remains online with AIM and his status is mobile.

He probably has the GPS working by now.

Carolyn Teich:

I miss cousin Dan. Although we didn't see each other often, each time was a delight. I think of the visit Marti and Dan made while I was serving in the Peace Corps in Uruguay. Leave it to them to be in the neighborhood and bring some great comfort food like dark chocolate Milky Ways. The Richmond family is much richer for having Dan as a member. Wish it was for a longer time.

Marsha Hirano-Nakanishi:

Salinas 71-72

I never thought that Dan wouldn't beat this, since nothing else has ever stopped him. He was the biggest bundle of joy, enthusiasm, limitless curiosity, heady thoughts, and physical daring. His bicoastal visits were highlights of the season, and he saved me enormous angst more than once by providing me enough advice to correct our IT folks' misperceptions about the kinds of software needed for complex accountability reporting. I was blessed to get to know his son Jesse -- coxswain of Harvard's varsity 8 that won about every prize there is. Dan in a Henley Regatta getup was both a proud dad and an outrageous fashion statement.

Mahboud Zabetian:


Over the years I would look forward to seeing Dan and sharing a meal with him when he would come to San Francisco. The discussions we had would range from evolutionary biology, to 9/11, to macrophysics, and back to computers - the real reason I met Dan.

Back in the late 80s -'86 to '88 - while still a student at Princeton, I worked indirectly for Dan at OIT. (I don't recall what the group was called back then.) I started out working for Philip Thompson, another great, in the Advanced Technology Group, and Dan would stop me as I was entering or exiting that old house-turned-office, across Prospect from the Computer Center, and would show me a cool new piece of software, a brand new Mac, or ask me to share my thoughts about the Middle-east.

He always seemed to know a lot about a lot. Reading this blog only confirms my theory that he was one of the rare Renaissance men of our era - and a darn nice guy to boot. It also showed me how truly privileged I was to get to have some of his time all to myself in some cafe in SF or on the floor of the MacWorld exhibit.

I was truly disappointed when he told me last December that he was not planning to be at MacWorld (or his CSG meeting). I was getting ready to ping him again to see if he'd be coming out this January - hoping that he would.

I realize that he had been one of the main attractions of the show for me. And sadly, the last time I saw him at Macworld, has become the last time I will ever see him again...

My heartiest condolences to his family. And thank you for sharing him with us. If his illness had not cut such a great life short, I am sure he would have positively influenced the lives of countless more in the years to come. It is up to each of us now to carry on his legacy, and brighten other people's lives, just as Dan would have.

Dan, we will miss you!

Brett Angney:

In addition to what my wife, Dale, wrote earlier I would like to add some lines from "Romeo and Juliet" as we all fondly remember Dan and send our love and prayers to his family.

When he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he shall make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night,
And pay no worship to the garish sun.

Sergio Baeza:

Sergio Baeza :

Our deepest regrets to Marti, Keturah and her brothers Caleb and Jesse.
Keturah we are so happy you followed your father's lead and came to Chile as well.
Sergio and family

Thomas Ward:

Thomas Ward, A Notre Dame Classmate (1966-1970)

Dan was never "cool." He was never just a follower. He was not one to go along with the crowd when he saw injustice or cynicism. Dan was a person who saw beyond the veneer that might stifle others from recognizing the intrinsic value of any one of God's children. Dan was full of life, full of enthusiasm and gifted with the ability to laugh at himself and not worry too much about what others thought of him. He worried about what was right.

Dan was the kind of fellow who could stop on the highway if someone had a flat tire and could comfort someone who was shaken up for one reason or another and ask, "Are you sure that you are okay?"

Dan was gifted with computers but he also mastered Proust and Sartre and Gide. He was a renaissance man without the pretensions of a renaissance heart. Dan loved people and, wherever he went, he sowed his seeds of caring.

To Dan's wife and children, allow me to join so many others in saying how sorry I am about his premature passing.

I can't forget your dad and his wonderful nature. I guess that the consolation for all of us is that you have surely each inherited a part of his legacy and his wonderful heart.

With Sympathy and Appreciation,

Thomas Ward

Lucia Gullo Kaiser:

I haven't seen Dan since we graduated from Bishop Kearney High School 40 years ago, but I remember exactly how he looked and acted back then. Even his comments to me in our high school yearbook reflected the really nice guy we all knew. I'm so happy to see his friendly, kind ways seemed to follow him throughout his life.

It is bittersweet to learn how much Dan lived up to his potential, and I am truly sorry such a wonderful person's life was so prematurely cut short. However, in reading all these tributes, I realize Dan packed much living - and giving - into the short time he was here. My condolences to his family.

Lucia Gullo Kaiser

Robin Rybarczyk:

Ah, what fine memories. My first recollections of Dan have him in purple pants, weird tennis shoes, an orange shirt that matched nothing, some polka dots, and a pony tail. I knew he had to be some druggie from the 60's. Boy, was I wrong. We went to church a few times. We had a peanut butter fight. In Kuala Lumpur, we went shopping on his motorcycle for the best meal on Earth, i.e., corn flakes, fresh milk, and bananas. We once had durian in the front yard of my house in California and the neighbors thought my house had a gas leak. Yum!!! He transformed himself into preppie-looking Dan, but still remained one great guy. I loved his passion for life, knowledge, and his family. He shared so much of himself with others. Tuan Dan, thanks for the memories!! See you one day for a makan in the sky. Jumpa lagi. - Robin

Steve Oberst:

You were one of the most intelligent people I ever meet. You understood that your intelligence was a gift from God. You used this gift to improve yourself, help others and made the world a better place.
I have always been very proud to be your brother and miss you very much. You are now with Chuck and Bernice and Paul. I look forward to the day when we can all be together again.
Your brother and your friend,

Sue Orris:

I knew of Dan for many years, since I am Marti's sister's college roommate. In the early 70's I heard about Dan and Marti and with passing years I heard about their children.
How thrilled my husband and I were when Dan wrote saying that he, Marti and Keturah were coming to the west coast and wanted to visit and whitewater raft with us.
To this day I can picture Dan sitting on the floor in the guest bedroom typing on his laptop to many of you, I am sure, who have posted blogs. I loved seeing him and his relationship with Keturah and Marti. And we came to know a man who seemed to give his all. Whether he was helping us in the boatshed, cleaning up from dinner, catching up on work stuff, or having fun...Dan seemed to experience things to the fullest. We are grateful that we had the opportunity to spend time with such a fine person and we trust that his family and loved ones will find comfort in knowing how much he was admired by so many.
Our thoughts are with you,
Sue and Ferron

Gordon Sakai:

I am also from Dan's Teacher Corps/Peace Corps past.
Two vivid memories. My wife like Dan loved the color purple and when they learned the word "Ungu" they would use it all of the time. To this day whenever I see a purple I think of Dan and "Ungu".

Dan and I were assigned to the same school for our first "in language" teaching assingment. We were introduced to the class and I bumbled through something. Dan immediately captivated the students and me by giving a demonstation of some math tricks. He had the students participating in an improptu math class in less than 5 minutes. Amazing!!!!

Marianne Camarda Sickels:

I have known Dan since first grade at St. Ambrose School in Rochester. I think that we were in the same class each of the 8 years in grammar school. He was the sweetest and smartest person who never made you feel you were not his equal. After grammar school we went to the same high school, Bishop Kearney, where Dan was always in a leadership role.

Dan was great at stopping over my house whenever to mood struck him from grammar school on into high school. He was a great friend who will be missed by many far and wide.

May his family find peace.

michele parnell-garrett:

I met Dan Oberst when I was 11 years old. My papa, Charles Parnell was the director of SUNDEF that brought students from Notre Dame to study abroad in Angers, France. Dan was in one of those first groups. Eleven years old is a very awkward age-too old to be a child, too young to be a "teen" or an adult. I was kind of expected to behave like an adult but wanted to be a kid and break free from what I felt were boring excursions to see more and more and more old castles and churches. Just when I thought I could just not bear to behave and be quiet one more minute there Dan was getting my attention with his smiling,laughing eyes and we would have these wonderful silent conversations with our eyes.And what a master at multitasking- because at the same time he was " playing" with me and being attentive to my feelings, his ears and mind were busy listening and appreciating all that he was learning in these excursions that were not at all boring to him.I might not remember all the history of the castles and churches we visited but he taught me about gentle kindness and taking people exactly where they are, without judgment. he made me feel special. He was the one that was special! I remember him singing and playing guitar and most of all his laughing eyes. Two years ago my papa died. As I stood up and sang a song I wrote for my papa- I looked out at the crowd of people assembled - and there were those smiling, comforting eyes looking right in my eyes encouraging me to sing my song. And I did- Thanks Dan! my prayers are with all of you who loved him as we return him to the One who loves him the best- Michele Parnell Garrett

Dan was so brave and confident in facing cancer that I though for certain he would survive it. His courage in confronting death is a lesson to the rest of us in how to live.

Dan was never too busy to listen to me and answer my questions about computing. I was a Mac evangelist in those dark years of the interregnum, between Jobs I and II, and Dan always kept the faith with me. He was platform ecumenical.

We made a trip to an Apple conference in San Diego and shared a room. One morning we went for a run in the misty hills, and I was impressed with his speed and endurance, quite impressive for a chair-bound nerd. I also learned that he loved to tell stories and how proud he was of his wife and children and their many achievements.

My indelible memory of Dan will be of the years when he had the front office in the little house across the street from 87 Prospect. His door was always open, and he always looked up to give a hearty greeting. He loved his job and friends. We were all fortunate to have known him.

Susan Mooney Hickey:

a long distance e-mail for Dan:
(If anyone can figure out the technology to receive this, you can.)
Dan, don't tell your brothers I said so, but you were probably the wittiest cousin of our generation. We Mooney cousins were divided into three groups, roughly: prewar, early baby boom and cabooses. You were #3 in the boomer group, right after my older brother and me. We were the last generation to believe that a can of pears was an acceptable dessert (what did we know?).
We laughed for years about the Christmas dinner when we were in our early twenties and let the adults and little kids go first, and the turkey that remained was just a carcass. We ate potatoes on a card table in the living room and tried to hatch a plot to get take-out.
Dan, you were a class act. Thanks so much for the memories.

all my love,
Cousin Sue from Rochester

Michael Littman:

I have known and liked Dan ever since he came to Princeton. Back in those days he was in Advanced Computing at CIT. He had a great time playing with every new computer-related gadget that came on the market. I had a student in the late '80s who was working on devices (vehicles, cameras, and laboratory experiments) to be remotely-operated thru the Internet. Dan was our guru as to what to purchase and how to approach each new concept that we wanted to explore. I remember his joy at learning about new ways to use computers. His enthusiasm was truly infectious.

Dan and Marti, and my wife, Marion and I bonded in our experience in navigating the trials of having premature children. Keturah's start in life was even more of an adventure than that of our daughter, Emily.

I read the piece about Dan on the University Web page this morning. It struck a chord. My dad died at age 58, when I was 22. I think that this is Keturah's age. I remember how hard it was to lose someone that was so important to me, my hero. Just last week I was riding my bike to work and saw a car approaching an intersection. I noticed that the driver did not look directly at me. I remembered what my dad taught me. If the driver doesn't see you, then ASSUME, that he will proceed as if you didn't exist. I decided to stop, even though I had the right-of-way. Sure enough, the driver continued across the intersection and only after he was half-way through did he see me. He had a very surprised-embarassed-concerned look on his face. Had I just continued without stopping, I would have been road-kill. I said to myself, "Thanks dad". The point of my little story is that what we learn from those who are important to us, truly becomes part of us. I have long felt that my dad is watching over me and running interference in my life. It is because of what he taught me.

To Marti, Keturah, and the boys, our thoughts are with you in this time of mourning, and we share in the grief. Rest assured that Dan will live on in all of us that learned from him and admired him.

Leah Targon:

Dear Dan,

I missed you at cabinet meeting this morning. In fact, I've missed you for a long while now, since you stopped attending regularly. I miss your rosy cheeks and your wide smile and your arched brow, raised at just the right quizzical moment. I know that I will miss your presence at cabinet for a long time to come. I could always count on you for a chance to smile, laugh or sometimes crack up, if your witty remark came at an especially unexpected moment. Dan, you left us too soon.


Marc Zicari:

Dan was the first Senior Class President at Bishop Kearney High School in Rochester, NY.He was an outstanding athlete and a student with an impressively keen intellect.His sense of humor and friendliness to all made him a model for his classmates and a joy for his teachers. While his accomplishments (even then) set him on a pedestal, his basic goodness and genuine concern for others made him a bright light that will not be dimmed by his passing on to another life.

I am sure that the Oberst brothers and children will keep his memory alive by sharing the "Story of Dan' with their families and friends.

Mary Reid:

The Dan Oberst I knew was a family man. He and Marti became dear friends who, with great warmth and generosity, welcomed me each time I travelled from Ireland to visit my son, Galen, at the Lawrenceville School. Their gracious hospitality led to the intermingling of generations of both our families. - Indeed, it is with great affection I remember an impromptu summer-evening meal in their back garden when all our children were present and as the laughter and stories continued well into the night, the sense was of well-being, abundance of life, and happiness.

The last time I saw Dan was in one of the oldest pubs in Dublin last summer. I knew he was ill but the conversation was all about our children and their aspirations and dreams; it was about Marti and about Dan's own plans for the whistle-stopping tour of Ireland on which he was about to embark with his brothers and niece, Caitlin.

Dan is not gone. - Not as long as Keturah's eyes are blue and her enthusiasm for life great; Caleb's humour irreverent; Jesse thoughtful and considerate; and in the wider ripples of family, Caitlin's sense of justice strong.

"I am the family face;
Flesh perishes, I live on,
Projecting trait and trace
Through time to times anon,
And leaping from place to place
Over oblivion..."

With love from Mary, Dara, and Galen

michele parnell garrett:

I first met Dan when I was 11 years old.He was in one of the first study abroad programs at Notre Dame university to study in Angers , France. My papa, Charles Parnell was the director. I was just there because my family was there. Eleven is a very awkward age-too old to be considered a child- too young to be considered an adult.I was terribly bored by the excursions to more and more and more old castles,churches. I was however expected to behave and at least pretend to be listening to the drone of yet another tour guide when all I wanted to do was go find someone to play with. Just when I thought I could not stand it one more minute-Dan's twinkling, smiling eyes would look straight into mine playfully.What a multi-tasker! at the same time we would have these wonderful silent conversations with our eyes and yet his ears and mind could really listen to something that was not at all boring to him and yet be present to a little girl. He had that gift of sensitivity and acceptance without being judgmental.In the midst of wonders of architecture and history he was able to see behind my facade of "good behavior" and see my frustration and my need to play.
I saw those kind eyes again 2 years ago at my papa's funeral. I was looking out into the crowd of people gathered as I sang a song I wrote about my papa. Just as I thought I couldn't stand this one more minute, his eyes locked with mine with a gentle conforting look and sparkle that said "you can get through this- sing your heart out." and I did. Eleven or 48 , he saw within and his eyes laughed. I am just sorry I never told him this. But somehow I think maybe my eyes told him all he needed to know.

Phil Oberst:

I am one of Dan's brothers. Although twelve years in age and 500 miles seperated us I always felt like Dan was nearby. Even as Dan traveled the world he kept in touch with slide shows (France)and letters to my parents (Malaysia) - pre-email days. Dan, Marti and crew always made the trek to Rochester for the holidays and special family events. You could see the quiet pride in my parent's faces when the family gathered. As he settled in Lawrenceville, it was the Sunday morning phone calls to Mom and Dad. I always knew I could count on them to keep me up on Dan's latest adventures. With mom and dad gone Dan still kept in touch with "the brothers" via phone and email.
As I came to know Dan as an adult I was always amazed by his boundless energy and postive spirit. For me he has always been an inspiration. Today as I read the words of others Dan inspires me even more. The loss of him hurts, but I know that his spirit lives on in the lives of all those he touched, especially Marti, Caleb, Jesse, Keturah and the rest of the Oberst family.

Greg Wood:


You were the greatest! I cherish our 40 years of friendship. From Dr. Bosco's advanced French class for freshmen, our Sophomore Year Abroad in Angers, France, Junior Year German with Clem, Sister, and Randy Klawiter, folk concerts in Flanner basement,ND reunions, our mutual love and respect of Dr. Charles Parnell and his family, occasional phone calls and mini-reunions, to our last communication three weeks ago, you were always there to listen, share, and add special wit and 'color' to life's little and big moments. You have left a big void in so many lives. Good friends should be able to grow old together! Your heart, mind, and soul were gigantic; your energy boundless; your character so much to be envied; your strength in adversity so admirable. You share the highest pedestal with Dr. Parnell!

Lynn and I send our best to your family. We were honored to have spent a couple hours celebrating your special gifts with Marti, Caleb, Jesse, Keturah, Grandmother Richmond, and friends last weekend.

Adieu, good friend!

Greg Wood
Notre Dame, Class of '70; fellow Angevin, 1967-68

Eugene Oberst:

OK Dan, you got me blogging. You've pull me kicking & screaming into the 21st century. Seems like only yesteday you did the same for me for the 20th! We never seemed to be on the same side of the science/techno divide. I remember our younger days when we fought over the old black & white console TV. You wanted to watch Mr. Wizard, a precursor to Bill Nye the Science Guy, and I wanted to watch cartoons. Somehow we reached a middle ground.

Maybe it was the bonding we had as 7 & 8 yr. olds as we rode a city bus across town to swim at Genesee Valley Park pool. Or perhaps it was the hrs. of homerun derby trying to hit one over the Sully Library fence. And how about those garbage camp fires at Allegheny State Park w/ the Mooney cousins? It was vacation and no rules applied. Those were the times.

Thanks also for letting me tag along for the high school jazz band sessions at the Englerts. You were there for the music, I enjoyed the food.

Remember the time in high school when we went to the Leo Tournament in Chicago? You wrestled in the finals that night and Mr. Hirschman, a Rochester transplant and family friend, was in the stands and bet on you with an unsuspecting Chicagoan. Of course you both won and we celebrated that night at the Hirschmans.

Those days seem so far away, but attachments made are not.

I know your kids have similar fond memories of you and familiy times and I know theose memories will sustain them in the difficult days and months ahead.

Thanks for all!

Marc Richmond:

To Cousin Marti, Jesse, Caleb and Keturah and those who cared about and loved Dan:

The outpouring of love and affection in this blog illuminate a life, a soul, that has, and will continue to have, profound meaning in an often meaningless world. Dan - husband, father, son, brother, friend - has brought something rare to the world - vision, courage, and compassion. I wish that my time with him had been longer. My loss is that I will not have the riches of memories that you all cherish so dearly.

A quote from Susan B. Anthony:
"Sooner or later we all discover that the important moments in life are not the advertised ones, not the birthdays, the graduations, the weddings, not the great goals achieved. The real milestones are less prepossessing. They come to the door of memory."

Wendy Lebowitz:

Dearest Dan,
How much richer all our lives were for your presence. Joel and I remember first meeting you at TC nearly thirty years ago -- and adoring you immediately! I was so grateful for your statistics help with my masters thesis -- you made it so clear, I ended up able to tutor stats years later! We remember late night folk jams, and giggling through Prairie Home Companion -- how fun to SEE the broadcasts! I can still visualize your face as you looked at Marti at your wedding, as you held each of your newborn children -- and each of ours -- so full of cheer and love and hope. In this last year and a half, your strength and courage and faith, and support of others despite your own illness, were an inspiration. Yours was such a bright and joyous soul, mischievous and clever and so loving. You were an adored godfather to our boys, and a beloved friend to us. Yours and Marti's was a wonderful partnership, and you nurtured a terrific trio in Caleb, Jesse and Keturah; we are so grateful to have been part of your life. It's hard to imagine the days without your physical presence, but we do know your spirit will go on. Thank you, dear Dan. We love you.

Becky Goodman:

Dear Dan,
Yours was a life well lived, indeed. You found your soul had three beautiful children who brought you endless traveled the laughed heartily every loved your work...You lived life to the fullest. We only go around once, and your ride was a great one. I hope Marti and your children find comfort in that.

Laurel Harvey:

I've known Dan for many years -- first as a member of Dick Spies' Breakfast Club and later as a member of the Administrative Process Team. He was someone I would call when I didn't know who to call when I had an IT problem. I remember not being able to access my files on my office computer one Saturday afternoon. Of course I called Dan's office - as he sometimes worked crazy hours. Little did I expect a call back, but Dan had forwarded his office messages to his cell phone and he called me from the banks of the Charles River where he was watching a crew race. Not only was he responsive, he also enabled me to gain access to necessary files. Thank you Dan for being there when I really needed you. Here is a poem that I'd like to share that is meaningful to me and perhaps will be to others:

"All is well" by Cannon H. Scott Holland

"Death is just an open door
I have only slipped away
into the next room.

I am I, and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
that we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name,
speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.

Put no difference in your tone,
wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.

Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was,
let it be spoken without effect,
without a trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant,
it is the same as it ever was;
there is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am waiting for you, for an interval,
somewhere very near;
safe and secure,
all is well."

Sally Van Fleet:

I remember the first day I met Dan, almost twenty years ago. I was told that Dan happened to be in the building and he would be interviewing me. I was so nervous and I wanted to make a good impression. I was totally unprepared and I didn't like what I was wearing; I was afraid I wouldn't get the job. Dan, immediately, made me feel at ease and the interview went rather smoothly. Much later I found out that the color I had been wearing, lavender, was one of his favorites. The color, he later told me, reminded him of the walls he painted his temporary home in Malaysia, a special place that he toured during his time in the Peace Corps.

I remember when we first started working at our 116 Prospect location. Dan and managers Howard Strauss and Phil Thompson together all teased me with their technical acronyms and jargons. They would congregate in my office and talk about ordering some widget and refer to it in three different technical terms. I sat there wondering what they were talking about. I was thinking, "In English please!" Later I would find out that they were talking about the same item. They sure had their laughs over my lack of technical expertise. Now that all three of them are gone and reunited, I can't help wonder what they are up to. I wonder if God will understand their technical chatter?

Now for my expertise. In the nearly twenty years working for Dan, I tried endlessly to get him organized so that his papers would not be all about his office. I color coded his folders by category and hoped that would help him find things. He tried to adapt to this method for years but he would show that it was against his grain. Yet, lately, when he asked me to find something for him that I filed for him, he was amazed how quickly I found it and he was finally getting the system. Then one day he was looking for something important and from his office, I heard a loud, proud, "I found it!" I thought, wow, I finally succeeded!

There is one thing I will never understand... Dan's love for "durian". How he got past the smell of durian in order to eat this fruit, is beyond me.

Dan was my boss and like a brother to me. Despite how busy he was, he could always tell when I was upset about something even though I tried to hide my feelings. He also helped me through some personal problems and was always willing to lend an ear. He cared for so many people and he daily showed how much he loved his family. The love he poured out was immeasurable. I was privileged to have worked with such a strong, wonderful man and he will always be in my heart and I will miss him terribly.

The following poem is one that I wrote for Dan. I had sent him this, via e-mail, a few days before his last journey to the hospital.

My Boss

It has been one of my fortunes that I have met my boss
While others might say they could give their's a toss
His smile, his wisdom, his strength comes through with ease
The good humor he expels and he likes to tease

Although he is so great, there is something I must say
He's not the neatest person you'd meet any day
His office is a vision of paper laying all about
When visiting him, you need to clear a path in and out

He's cares for so many and it comes shining through
He always has pleasing words to say to you
He loves his family and friends without a doubt
Friends visit often and he takes them about

He travels the world learning all kinds of traditions
He's encouraged and enticed by new expeditions
His new journey has suddenly taken a twist
He battles a disease that leaves us in a mist

Family and friends support him till no end
My boss fights back making it his trend
If ever someone asked me, whom do you admire?
My response would certainly be: My boss, he's my sire!

Lester Kaufman:

I am another of the cast of characters from Dans illustrious Teacher Corps/Peace Corps past. I remember a couple of events that are typical of Dans great humor, generosity, and approach to life.

We were part of the group of Peace Corps volunteers sent to Malaysia to undergo HILTHigh Intensity Language Training. Believe me, high intensity was not an exaggeration. They separated us into several groups, sat us side-by-side, and then drilled us mercilessly for an hour at a time, 8 hours per day, 5 days per week. The instructors would get a few inches from our faces and bark Malay words out and make us each repeat what he said over and over again . Stressful? You better believe it. Effective? For the most part, extremely.
Just a few years ago, one of Dans visits out to the west coast, became, as usual, a catalyst for a number of us to get together to revisit old times. I mentioned the grueling experience that was HILT. Dan immediately popped up, stood in front of us, had us line up our chairs, and began conducting language training, transporting us back almost thirty years, expertly capturing the essence that was HILT making us repeat: Selamat pagi, selamat tengahari, selamat malam, selamat jalan just like our first lesson (translated to the English: good morning, good afternoon, good night, good-bye). Dans ability to evoke immediate, intense pain in the pit of our stomachs made us fall out of our chairs laughing hysterically. We then realized that the torture that was HILT to most of us was a wondrous game to Danone that, if played well, resulted in real learning.

I also remember Dan relating one of his early kompong (village) experiences. He decided he would return the kind welcomings he had received from his students by baking bread for them. Of course, bread is more of a western staple, the Malay staple being rice. But Malays did eat bread now and then and Dan wanted to make them something unusual and somewhat American. Dan did realize that Malays have a serious sweet tooth. He had a favorite bread recipe he had brought with him and figured that if he added a couple cups of sugar to it, though making it inedible to us, the Malays would love it. Dan labored lovingly over his bread, baking it carefully, and then presented it proudly to his students. One of the kids tried it and immediately announced, Tak chukup manis, Cikgu Din (not sweet enough, teacher Danapparently they never mastered pronouncing Dan). But they did recognize the sweet, generous spirit that was Dan as the villagers embraced him into the community.

Selamat Jalan Cikgu Din [Safe Journey (Goodbye) Teacher Dan].

James Oberst:

"It is time for us to stand and cheer for the doer, the achiever, the one who recognizes the challenge and does something about it" - Vince Lombardi

My brother Dan was that person; thriving on new adventures, challenges and living life with a passion. My mom would often joke that Dan lived life on a merry-go-round. No, Dan was not one to watch life from the sidelines, rather immerse himself fully into what this world had to offer - and what he could offer in return. While often on the go, Dan was equally passionate about spending time with his family and his many friends, spread far and wide. Dan, Marti and the kids always made the treks up to Rochester for the holidays, bringing along his latest gadgets and also his traditional case of Beaujolais' to give out for the new year. When in town, he never seemed to fail to find time to drop in on a few old friend or relatives.

As a conversationalist, I always envied his skill, no matter who the person or what the subject, he always seemed to be able to engage that person and get as much out of them as they did of him. Being that I was youngest, Dan was out of the house and off to see the world when I was barely out of diapers. So I really got to know him later in life through our family gatherings, which bring me some of my greatest memories. Our camping trips usually seemed to be scheduled based on the local monsoon schedule. Yet the rains never dampened the laughter or good times. The round of golf we played at Green Lakes Park one year, in what seemed like a tsunami was absolutely priceless. Dan would often refer to his style of play as borrowing from the art of sailing - he believed in tacking his way down the fairway (we shared the same trait on that one!).

Another highlight was a trip out to his alma mater to see the Irish on the gridiron. (Did I mention passionate before? Check out his web blog as even Dan was at wits end trying to overcome hospital bureaucracy so he could tune into the ND-Georgia Tech game). Camera always in hand, Dan had some of us brothers lined up on the Irish practice field in a Four Horseman pose one minute; the next minute he was mugging it up next to the Moose Krause statue outside the stadium, with a mischievous grin as he slipped a few dollars Moose's way.

Finally, my lasting memory is eight glorious days on the Emerald Isle with Dan, my brother Jerry and his daughter Caitlin, this past spring. It was a whirlwind 30-day Ireland tour accomplished in barely a week. Dan was the guy fighting cancer, yet we were the ones trying to keep up with his pace. Dan had the itinerary mapped out and bravely took the shotgun position as I got my first taste of left side driving and left side shifting. In the first few days, as my mind would wander back to American driving, Dan would calmly look over to me with the raised eyebrow and say, "You might want to consider trying the left lane for awhile". Later in the trip, we had a classic Irish moment as we were driving along a narrow road (which one isn't in Ireland?) when a rainbow appeared in the distance following an afternoon shower. Everyone in the car was trying to spot it, myself included. No longer feeling as brave and surely not feeling any more confident of my driving prowess, I was told by Dan, "False alarm, no rainbow here, just keep looking straight ahead". It was then that I knew that Dan was wise enough to let intellect prevail over adventure.

To Dan, you leave us with many great memories and have touched our lives by the way you lived yours. With much love I say to you, Slainte!

Zinnia Lee Windholz:

Dan is very special. He and his family are very generous, hosting me and an assortment of friends on numerous ocassions when I was in the area. He kept in contact with so many of the Salinas gang, that we were able to share and grow old together. I will miss him a lot, but his spirit will live on forever in my heart. Thank you Dan for coming into my life.
Selamat Jalan.

Hetty Baiz:

Dan's sparkle was infectious. He exuded warmth, wit and intelligence. I always felt upbeat and energized in his presence. Dan was a great man.

Pat Kealy:

Through the years I have "watched" from afar the adventures of the Oberst family. Through Christmas cards and Notre Dame Reunions I have enjoyed the obvious love and enthusiasm that Dan had in what were certainly his most important jobs - husband and father. I've heard about coxing on the rowing team, life at Lawrenceville and trips to France. Occasionally there were conversations about some Beta testing on some computer program, but Dan could see my interest dropping and the subject would return to family.

His stories about the poorly-planned pool on the top of a building at the Kodak factory, and about being one of the wrestling Oberst brothers in high school, hold permanent slots in my all too-failing memory.

Obviously, my best memories of Dan revolve around our experience as members of the Morning Glory Brigade, the folk group started by John Fonseca in Angers back in 1967. I know that back at the ND campus the group went on to greater (but still local) fame, but the "photo reel" of the days in Angers, Osnabruck, Innsbruck and especially Berlin seem to on continuous-play in my mind. As recently as three years ago Dan reminded me that in the Spring of 1968 I missed the train to Paris on the day of our big "audition" on national radio.

I'll share one wonderful memory. Our van of traveling minstrels drove through East Germany and entered West Berlin. On the way to our hotel we saw what we thought was a traffic accident at the side of the road. It turns out that the German activist - Rudi Dutschke had been shot. But we drove on to the hotel not knowing what we had seen. That evening I took a walk with Dan and Steve Mysliwiec. There was some sort of demonstration going on and we just followed the crowd to the Berlin Wall. We were in front of some tall glass skyscraper built next to the Wall overlooking East Berlin. It turns out that we were literally in the middle of the most significant German student demonstration and protest of the 60's. It was international news. There were police with fire hoses, the sirens heard in Diary of Anne Frank and kids unending cars. After a few hours we strolled back to the hotel and the next day we went on to sing about ..where have all the flowers gone.

For me a major memory and Dan was a big part of it.

So I extend to you and your children my prayers and sympathy. I will sing to myself the of the Morning Glory and I will remember Dan's guitar chords. But mostly, I will remember his smile and his optimism. Knowing that your collection of mental Dan Photo Reels is much more extensive, I know that amid the grief of this occasion is the knowledge that you have been an integral part of a most significant experience.

And so Marti, when you look up and talk with Dan, mention to him that an old Morning Glory friend mourns that fact that he won't see any new Dan smiles. But then I have plenty of memories of 40 years of Dan-smiles.

Candy Willut:

I (Candy) had the privilege of working with Dan at EDUCOM during the mid-late 80's, on the MAILNET project mentioned earlier in the blog. In the years since, we remained loosely in touch thanks to Rita Saltz. Dan was a wonderful colleague and fine friend.

Here is one memory that to me captures the essence of Dan: In 1997, almost a DECADE after we worked together, I ended up in St. Lawrence Rehab Center with casts on pretty much everything after a car accident. One afternoon, Dan paid a surprise visit. By the time he left about 30 minutes later, he had:
(1) Made me laugh a LOT,
(2) Given me a collection of "Ask Dr. Science" cassettes so I could keep on laughing,
(3) Offered to set up my home and work computers with any alternative input devices that might be useful for someone in my state, and
(4) Offered to host at his nearby home any of my family or friends who were spending too many hours in the institutional setting of the rehab center and getting tired of it.

That was Dan: good-humored, caring, and generous from start to finish! It's clear from his own blog that he fought a good fight, with incredible support and partnership from Marti. We only wish the outcome could have been different, as the world surely was a better place with Dan in it. Our condolences to Marti, Caleb, Jesse, Keturah, and all the other family members and friends who are missing Dan.

Candy & Jim Willut

Dad I wrote this for you. I hope you enjoy it.

I remember how my mom told me when they found out I was to be a girl she had to tell dad he was going to be a father now, as I was to be the first and in years to come the only girl. She also told me how Dad wanted to follow the ambulance with me from Princeton to Philadelphia, where I would spend the first none months fighting for my life. It is said life is a circle. The last day before my father's passing, I, with my brothers, was the one following my Dad in an ambulance, this time form Philadelphia to Princeton. My Dad and I were both fighters. I told him that. He knew that. Just as I had a blessing of medical miracles I was sure he would as well. My Dad was always strong. In more ways then one. I remember him taking me outside and taking photos, teaching me how to adjust the shutter speeds, and then watching one of the most mind blowing happenings: a photo appearing as we developed it. Our conversations about HTML, Macs, Windows, and so on. Our trips: to France and Italy, and the watch the Fighting Irish take on the Stanford Cardinals, and my father playing his clarinet during half time. Going over to grandma's house to work on her computer. I learned a lot from my Dad, but him me. We were over my Grandma's and we had to put a modem in a computer, which had ethernet in it. We were going to transfer my Grandma's files to the new computer, and my Dad had a flash drive, but couldn't find a USB port. I said to him something along the lines of, "How would you plug a printer in?" and with that my Dad found the USB port! Along with the good lessons of my Dad, there were the bad and not wanting. Like how he CAN find files I have deleted, for good or bad. Or how he was ALWAYS on IM so therefore, I had to have an away message on to make it look as though I was doing work. But again what I did learn was how to be a good human, women, and daughter. For that I am glad to be his daughter. He will always be my father. I used to cry about not having a father to walk me down the aisle, or be a grandfather. Yes I lost a father, but I have Jesse, Caleb, Uncle Gene, Uncle Steve, Uncle Jerry, Uncle Phil, Uncle Jim, and Uncle Dave as the men I can hopefully go to.

Lee Varian:

My memory of Dan will be as a twenty-year colleage whose sly smile, enthusiasm, curiosity, vision and
determination made him wonderfully successful in exploring the vast array of new technologies which have been being developed and then implementing the ones which Princeton needed to support its quickly expanding IT universe.

His pride in the exploits and successes of his family came out in almost every conversation with him. Dan was the ultimate connected man -- through technology but more importantly by the human contacts he made at Princeton, in his grammar and high schools, at Notre
Dame, while teaching in Malaysia, and with the many others he met in his extensive travels.

I shall miss seeing Dan when my wife and I return from
our "wander year" in England and Europe following our
Princeton retirements. But I am eternally grateful for having known him.

Keith Lewin and Angela Little:

A sad day brought the news of Dans departure. We were priveleged to spend some time in Princeton with Dan and Marti in March on a trip back from Hawaii. We shared some fresh Tuna straight from the Pacific. Dan and I go back to about 1974 when I was a VSO and worked alongside all the Peace Corps in Malaysia - Steve,Lester,Jim, Brett and many others. Living with Dan and Steve was always a pleasure and the photographs still show what a great time that was - though I always seemed to end up playing the straight guy! It was a very special time and like Dan I've been going back quite often to Malaysia. Im glad he is going back to. Dan had a persistent sense of humour and was always fantastic company - despite the teasing about my misfortune to be English. We will sorely miss him as a friend and commentator on just about anything. A life well lived but just too short. Our thoughts are with Marti and the family.

Keith and Angela

Donna Tatro:

I look back now to remember meeting Dan as a colleague in 1995 and being struck by his enthusiasm, his wide-ranging interests and his sense of adventure even in life's small things. A reorganization in 1999 gave me the chance to work with Dan directly. My "graduate education" in higher-ed IT and so many great life lessons began. Dan gave me the gift of believing in myself, in others, and in the ethereal greater good. I am so thankful our paths crossed.

Over the past week so many people have said "wow, Dan traveled!" Whenever my partner and I were planning a vacation, I'd mention it to Dan knowing I could count on the "Oberst Activity Itinerary." "Oh Arizona? You and Jen should see the Sonora Desert Museum and then head to the Titan Missile Museum, but don't do the bus tour to the Grand Canyon. Did I ever tell you about the bus tour...." "San Fran? Marti and I went to the best hot springs spa --- Indian Springs in Calistoga, real mud baths, sliced cucumbers on your eyes, you've gotta do it....ahhh but first make sure you visit these Napa wineries...."

Every day after Dan's diagnosis I struggled to understand the why and maybe this is the one life lesson I'm just not going to grasp. And so, with everyone else whose life he touched, I am crying and laughing and remembering.

Dan, thank you for believing in me, believing in all of us, and taking us along on part of your journey.

Chris Mackie:

I met Dan in 1999, and for several years thereafter our relationship was characterized by me asking him for things in my work capacity, and him telling me 'no' in his. I'm sure he would have described me as a pain in the neck, if he had been capable of describing anyone that way. Instead, what I remember most are the occasions when, after an hour or more of interesting and revitalizing conversation about technology, family, and other mutual interests, I got back to my office before realizing that, once again, I hadn't gotten what I went for. I'm about as fond of being told 'no' as are most people, but somehow with Dan it regularly turned into an uplifting experience.

I read with envy the stories and memories of people who knew Dan better than I. It wasn't really until his illness, from his messages and a few conversations when we ran into one another, that I learned to admire as well as to like him. 'Admiration' isn't really a strong enough word--'amazement' is closer to the truth. Only in stories have I seen anything like the courage, grace, and greatness of soul he displayed.

I believe that the most difficult tests are given to people best able to endure them, so they can bear witness to the potential for greatness in the human spirit. In his battle with cancer, Dan was given an exceptionally difficult test, and he rose to it in a truly extraordinary fashion. He raised the bar, for everyone who knew him, on what it means to be a human being. Dan was a champion, pure and simple.

John Fonseca:

Dan Oberst became a part of my life in 1967 during our sophomore year abroad, at the University of Notre Dame program in Angers, France. He was a character, thats for sure. He had that crazy red hair and even a beard. And a super sense of humor. I still have a picture of him taken at La Baule, a seacoast town we visited right after arriving in France. All the other guys were wearing swim trunks. Dan, instead, had this 1920s style of swim suit. The kind with short pants halfway down the leg, and shoulder straps. In my photo you see him doing a muscle-man pose Im sure he was a wrestler in high school!

The program director in France asked if we could get a singing group together so we could visit some high schools and English classes at the University, to give them a flavor of American culture. Thus was born a folk music group, the Morning Glory Brigade (sometimes known as the MGB). Five of us. Dan and I on guitar, Steve on base, and Pat and Mary Beth (from Saint Marys College in those days Notre Dame was all male).

When we first got together, we were pretty lame. I remember Dan couldnt really play the guitar very well. But he was a fast learner, and probably understood music theory better than I, since he also played clarinet. Part of the problem was his guitar-- not a very good one. But no biggie, we thought this was just a one-time deal.

Well, we did our little show, and then a few weeks later someone else asked if we could do another show somewhere else. It was all American Folk Music Peter Paul and Mary, if you know who I mean. Well, this little thing we thought we were doing just once turned into a regular gig. We sang all around Angers, and even went over to Germany and toured for a week.

Our Junior year, after we got back to South Bend, the group continued. I bought a new guitar and Dan wanted to buy mine, so I sold it to him. A Gibson J-50 (great bass tone). There were a couple of personnel changes and the Morning Glory Brigade evolved into 6 people, with two Saint Marys girls, and 4 guys. Dan was with us all the way. We sang at the local coffee houses, and all around ND campus.

Time passed; we graduated. This was during Vietnam. One of us became a conscientious objector. One went into the Navy. Dan went to the Peace Corps. Those people in Malaysia must have loved him. He had such a winning combination of intelligence, practicality, ingenuity, and above all humor!

I have to tell you about one other memory of Dan. He lived in Rochester, New York. I lived in Los Angeles. The summer after we graduated, my doorbell rings and its Dan Oberst. On a bike. He just said he thought it would be fun to ride on over to visit. Can you believe it? He rode his bike across the USA. To visit! He stayed a couple of days and then he was gone. Rode off on his bike. Who knows where. Malaysia maybe!

Dan Oberst loved his family, too. Many years later, after Dan had married and had his 3 kids with Marti, we all got together at Steve Mysliwiecs summer home in Maryland. Steve was the bass player in the MGB, and is now a top lawyer in Washington. Jim Balcerski, another MGB member flew in from Detroit. It was a great reunion. Have you ever seen the movie A Mighty Wind? Its about a folk music group from the 70s that gets together for a reunion. If you saw that movie, which was very funny, well, that was us. But when we werent playing music, he was with his kids in the pool, having a great time and making sure they did too. They loved him, and he loved them.

I think the reason I was so shocked at Dans passing is that he was such a strong person physically and in spirit. In my mind, I just knew he was going to beat the cancer. No doubt in my mind. But it was not to be.

But well get together again, Dan, at the next Morning Glory Brigade reunion, in Heaven.

You're all invited.

Dennis Sheppard:


We talked at Wegmans that day; you mentioned your hospitalization, I droned on about my missing gall bladder, pitiful. We spoke of important things - our children. I would like to think the glow of pride that came from you hid what must have been obvious. I never had a clue.

Your kindness and sincerity were as overwhelming to me as you intellect and humility. You gave me Malaysian delicacies and Twin Peaks, Princeton Basketball and warm nights in the pool. To say I am appreciative is an understatement.

I let the relationship lapse as my life changed, and saw and spoke to you only occasionally. I know you understood.

You would not be surprised how your children handled themselves yesterday; more importantly you would not have cared if they had not done well. Marti, the other half of the dynamic duo, was wonderful, again no surprise.

I miss you and thank you and your wonderful family for everything.

Megan Maxwell:

There are occasionally wonderful relationships where time never really passes - I believed that we had one at Lauren's 2003 seder. Having stood (and sniffled) through your memorial service, I now know why. Perhaps I was your evil (and still developing) twin - always wanting to know, never completely satisfied. But maybe not. Because my major wish after hearing your friends, brothers, and children (can Keturah really be that old?!), is that I want to be just like you when I grow up.

After my aunt died, I had a dream that she was rocking out to a steel drum band, happy and vibrant and utterly at peace. Walk good, Dan!

I hardly knew ye, and forever will regret that.


George and Kathie Chaikin:

We last saw Dan about 5 months ago, where we became aware of his cancer. He was so upbeat, so optimistic, we were convinced he'd never be defeated. Now we must say that he wasn't, that even though the cancer has taken his life, his spirit was never defeated, and he remains an inspiration to us and so many others.

Dan was always so warm, such a pleasure to meet. Our last meeting ended with hugs and smiles - they will last forever.

Dan, thanks for your friendship.

Roger Palma:

I first met Dan in 1962, when as Freshmen at Bishop Kearney High School, a life-long friendship was cemented by our alphabetical proximity, as the good Irish Christian Brothers had our homeroom class sit in the same seats, alphabetically, for the entire year. Others here have recounted Dan's high school exploits, and were you to read this in a "fictionalized" context you would think "this guy's too good to be true." Dan and I entered Notre Dame in the fall of '66, and he was no less amazing, though at 5'8" and 140 pounds, he could no longer continue his career as "monster" linebacker. Years later, I visited Dan and Marti on numerous occasions when they were living in the Upper West Side as grad students at Columbia, and was the very grateful recipient of the Oberst-Richmond City Tour and Spicy Food Extravaganza. No one could perspire more freely over poblano or jalopeno peppers than Dan. Then the road show moved to Princeton, and new key players were added--Caleb, Jesse and Keturah. I had long since ceased to be amazed by anything Dan was capable of doing until I spent a week-end with them during the first year of Keturah's life. I then realized that the Dan-Marti partnership only intensified Dan and Marti's individual greatness. To this day, I cannot reflect on that time period with a dry eye. Nor have my eyes been dry for the past two weeks. Dan was brilliant, captivating, comical and compassionate. I'll stop at the "C's." The list of adjectives could go on for days. Thankfully, the memories will last much longer.

lauren levy:

I quote from: The Book Thief-

"How does it feel, anyway?"
"How does WHAT feel?"
"When you take those books?"
At that moment she chose to keep still.
If he wanted an answer, he'd have to come back, and he did.
But again, it was Rudy who answered before Liesel could even open her mouth:
"It feels good, doesn't it? To steal something back."

In this text- narrated by death itself, the young Leisel Meminger fights back against the destruction she sees and the death of those she loves by 'stealing something back'- in her case- stealing books.

We're stealing, we're cheating death now, Dan, when we remember- when we share how very much alive you are to all of us!
I remember the first time I heard about you and your family. Emily Lebovitz had been the tour guide who showed your family around campus when Marti considered joining the Lawrenceville community. She burst into my room after the tour- exploding in her excitement that she had met a family I would just LOVE!

I'm cheating death, Dan, but I remember so much from our 14 years of sharing Holydays together. And while Marti had originally e-mailed to tell me the Richmond/Obersts might have to miss this past High Holiday gathering in September- your body and will pulled together enough energy to make it. Everyone there, Dan, marveled at your energy and strength and vitality. My parents, Len, the kids- all who were at Rosh Ha Shanah who hung out with you. I promised to feed you double to bulk up your platelets but you came filled already- with the marvelous gift of Malaysian food from the Healey's...

Dan- I'm so warmed to have shared that last celebration with you- that last family gathering. It meant a lot to all of us.
Thank you.
Dan- there's so much else we have shared....milestones, Bat Mitzvahs and birthdays, stories from your amazing travels, hearing of wonderful Christmases up north, gratitude for tutoring Rebekka, for sharing time with Allie and Emma...Len and me...........
Stories to walk Jake by.............
Your love, Dan, -of your family,
Your children and Marti- the love they feel for you.
We've cheated death by remembering and by holding onto the unique and warm and colorful and witty and humble you we will ALL remember.

In the Biblical creation story there's an amazing line of text which comes to mind:
In the Hebrew it reads: Ruah Elokim mirahefet al p'ney ha mayim: The spirit of the Lord hovered over the waters....
Ruah Elokim- Spirit of the Lord, Wind of the Lord... breath
Ruah is a powerful word- spirit, breath, wind...

When I feel the winds sweep up, Dan, I remember that we as humans are part of the natural world and part of the natural process of the world...........As you were breathing your last breaths, the November wind-spirit outside was sweeping the brilliant red leaves- like your red beard- from their branches........tearing you from your earth family but returning you to where you came from- back to spirit- the onomatopoetic WHOOSH carrying your physicality and touch away but leaving in its gusts undescribable beauty and awe and gratitude.

Whenever the wind picks up and blows through our hair in the spring or nips at our ears and makes us gird ourselves with our mufflers in the winter we'll remember the gusty (and gutsy!) November winds which took you from us and be thankful for the beauty they left us with.

Dan- I leave your family and friends with a short Yizkor reading: Joshua Loth Liebman

I often feel that death is not the enemy of life, but its friend; for it is the knowledge that our years are limited which makes them so precious. It is the truth that time is but lent to us which makes us, at our best, look upon our years as a trust handed into our temporary keeping.
We are like children privileged to spend a day in a great park, a park filled with many gardens and playgrounds and azure-tinted lakes with white boats sailing on the tranquil waves.
True, the day allotted to each of us is not the same in length, in light, in beauty. Some children of earth are privileged to spend a long and sunlit day in the garden of the earth. For others the day is shorter, cloudier, and dusk descends more quickly as in a winter's tale.
But whether our life is a long summery day or a shorter wintry afternoon, we know that inevitably there are storms and squalls which overcast even the bluest heaven and there are sunlit rays which pierce the darkest autumn sky. The day that we are privileged to spend in the great park of life is not the same for all human beings, but there is enough beauty and joy and gaiety in the hours, if we will but treasure them.
Then, for each of us the moment comes when the great nurse, death, takes us by the hand and quietly says: "It is time to go home. Night is coming. It is your bedtime, child of earth. Come; you're tired. Lie down at last in the quiet nursery of nature and sleep. Sleep well. The day is gone. Stars shine in the canopy of eternity.

Suann Malone Maier:

I was part of the Angers group in 1967-68, and for everyone who was there, the place and time left indelible memories. (Who could forget Rudi the Red in East Berlin? What an experience!) But Dan stands out, even after 38 years. Dan's humor, joy, energy, good will and friendship -- these are the things he brought to Angers, and that followed him in all his relationships all of his life. The kind of man he was, is proven by the people and comments on this blog. What a great life. What great stories his family will remember and tell about Dan. He'll always be in my prayers and my laughter.

Jim Balcerski:

I first met Dan at Notre Dame in the late 60's. John Fonseca recruited me to sing in the South Bend version of the "Morning Glory Brigade" which he and Dan and others had formed in France. We all did our best to work out complex harmonies and, even though individually we didn't have strong voices, the 5 or 6 of us together managed to make a pretty good joyful sound (synergy.) After playing for about a year around campus we went on our separate ways and I fell out of touch.

About 25 years later John contacted me to attend a reunion of the MGB's. Dan was able to spend a day and a half with us. Same old Gibson guitar; same old ruddy smiling singing Dan! (good qualities don't really change over time.) Learning about his family and his work at Princeton, I thought, "Gee, Dan has a real life beyond music!" Again, I fell out of touch. (My Bad.)

Last Tuesday, John called, told me the news, and referred me to the blogs. It took two days to read Dan's diary (with a 2005 calendar in hand), and another day to read family and friends' farewells.

"Fighting Irish" is no longer just a catch phase, motto or marketable logo.

Today is Thanksgiving. Thankful for being able to spend a bit of time with Dan; and much more thankful for the love and care that you folks gave my singing buddy. (Dan probably taught you a lot about that 'love and care' thing.)

.... Everything that exists in time runs out of time some day
Got to let go of the things that keep you tethered
Take your place with grace and then be on your way. (Bruce Cockburn)

with grace indeed, and then some.

Pardon for my MANY post. I just wrote this.

its been two weeks
I still cant sleep
I lie awake hoping to see you walk into my room
I cry myself to sleep, knowing you never will
never again, come in my room
but your there
as an angel to watch over me
your there
through out the day
as i wake
as i sleep
your there
watching me
in my room
from above
I love you Daddy.
Jesse and Caleb are there
to watch me, so are my uncles
but no one will replace you
daddy i miss you
daddy i know your 100% better where you are
just wish it could be here
but ur an angel
in my room
watching me as i wake
as i sleep
u see me
and i feel you
i am your little girl
you are my dad
i love you

John Englert:

To Dan's wife and children: I have never met you, but you have my prayers and condolences.

Count me among the many whose first impression of Dan goes back to freshman football tryouts at BK in 1962. We lined up along the driveway north of BK to do a fireman's carry race across what is now the baseball field, and as my luck would have it, Dan was my partner. We started out with Dan carrying me, and by the time we crossed the field, everyone else was at least one half of the field behind. He carried me like I was a skinny little kid...well, I was.

Then, we had to switch. I had to carry Dan. We finished third. Every time I fell down (many), Dan was constantly encouraging, as he was throughout all of our high school encounters: the jazz band rehearsals in my folks living room (Gene, you weren't a tag along, it was great to have you there), Oklahoma, Brigadoon, and all our classes at BK.

Dan, I will think about you every year when our Alma Maters tee it up (ND vs. Michigan). As for the Class of '66, your spirit lives in all of us.

Marlene Stern:

Marti, Keturah, Jesse, and Caleb,
As the holidays come upon us, I can only imagine how deep a loss it is for you without Dan by your side. I think of him many times each day as I walk by his office, and can even picture him trotting down Main St. with Jake in tow as I drive through town. I miss his frequent visits to my office to chat. Who else could turn a miserable swim Lindsay had into a great event? This year, instead of our annual ice skating party, per Dan's wishes, we will be honoring him with a blood donation drive, and hopefully it will become an annual event. Just as Dan wanted, we will be helping so many people. I know Dan is watching over us, keeping us in line. We may even receive an instant message one of these days. Take care Marlene

Idan Shoham:


I was shocked that Dan is gone. Dan was someone I knew from long phone calls, e-mails and repeated run-ins a trade shows. A very smart, witty and caring man.

The world is a bit smaller without him. :-(

Good-bye, Dan.

alice proia:

dan and i first met in the eighth grade (1960) at st ambrose school. he was an altar boy and captain of the safety patrol. he tried to comb his hair back like elvis. we had an instant rapport back then and through all these years have managed to stay in touch with each other. there aren't enough adjectives to describe this long friendship, the benefactor more often than not, being me. he helped me pass geometry in tenth grade. we made fun of the nuns. we laughed at anything and everything as we journeyed through our adolescence together. years later he helped me to buy my first mac. and dan, my friend, you always challenged me to be my best self. you're gone, but not really. you'll always be bigger than life to me.

David Mikelonis:

It has taken me months to consolidate my thoughts and feelings. Dan and I first met in 1967 when we each turned up in New York city to catch a boat to France on our way to Angers, France with other students from Notre Dame and St. Mary's. One thing Dan was about was the future, always moving forward to embrace the next new thing in his life. So after much reflection, my comment is not about Dan from the past, but his future. Dan is in the hands of God where he has found plenty of room. There he looks out for his wife and children and friends and family and waits for them. That discovery is his everlasting gift to all who knew him!

Wendy Lebowitz:

A Saint Patrick's Day without Dan? And one that included Prairie Home Companion broadcasting from Town Hall in NYC? We missed it all. We miss him.

Donna Tschetter:

Amazing! I am happy that the boy I knew as a teenager at Bishop Kearney High School lived such a full and satisfying life, pulling all he met into his colorful orbit. What a beautiful tribute page.

Although we barely knew each other at school, Dan was always a beacon and excelled at all he tried. One day, however, I recall his humility in admitting that he could not pass his driver's test!

Funny, how after 40 years that conversation stayed with me and as I read all the wonderful tributes to the man I knew as a boy from the family and friends he knew along the way, I feel that he would want me to bring everyone down to earth and remember he was human, after all.

My heartfelt condolences to all Dan left behind but know that the memories of him and all he stood for will remain in your hearts until you meet again.

Albert Knute Oberst:

May Dan rest in Eternal Peace.
I am another Notre Dame connected Oberst. We are proud of Dan's great accomplishments in IT.
My uncle, dad, and at least 6 cousins went to ND. My dad and Dan did not know he was an all American in the Javelin at ND. He won his medal in the
Olympics in Dan's favorite France.
It is my prayer that Dan will not be forgotten but, remembered for his great contributions to Princeton the birthplace of our Constitution. God bless you all. Albert KNUTE Oberst @l

Jean Richmond-Bowman:

It's been a year, and while it is getting smaller, filled by new bright spots in life, the hole is still there. Every time our 5 year old, Kaitlin, looks at the sky at night and sees the stars, she says "There's Uncle Dan!" The memory of this wonderful man is strong enough that even a 5 year old remembers. I imagine him watching over all of us, still, from his spot in heaven, and feel the warmth and optimism of his spirit touch us all.


i can not belive it has been a year seens my uncle has died i miss him


A year on and the thought of Dan still brings much sadness and feelings of loss.


Sorry Daddy I didn't write sooner. I miss you alot. I have my cert in graphic design now. I am doing AmeriCorps as well. School is good, I am taking math next term. We had a big party for you. I surprised everyone by coming home. It was good to see everyone again. We got a turduckin again. Ilove you alot Daddy. I look up, and it's a cloudy dreary day, but I see the sun peek through, and I see you. I miss calling you during or after a Notre Dame game (this season would of been alot of calls..). I miss your beard and the way it felt when you would give me a kiss. I miss the little things. I just miss you Daddy. Know this: I am strong, and Jesse, Caleb, Mum and I are doing well. We all miss you Dad.

Never dreamed that he would be gone from me If I could steal one final glance, one final step, one final dance with him I'd play a song that would never, ever end

'Cause I'd love, love, love
To dance with my father again

Miss you Dad


Daddy, Notre Dame won!!!!! Wish I could of watched it with you. Love you.

Angel Hristov:

Hi Dan,

That is how I have started my email last night, not knowing that he could not respond... After failure delivery message I have started to search the web and the rest is clear...

I really believed that he will win this battle, because if there is a man from the ones that I know who can win it, this would be him.

We met in the summer of 1999, my first trip to the US. You were planning a trip to Bulgaria with your family to watch Jesse on the International Rowing competition that took place in Plovdiv. I was a camp councellor in Camp Maison and your lovely dauther Keturah (at the same camp at that time) made the connection between us. We corresponded via email at the beginning and I tried to satisfy your curiousity about Bulgaria related to the coming trip but it was not easy because you had so many questions. You wanted to know everything that is on the net about the country, the history, people before you get there. And you really did.

My girlfriend, Petia, helped in guiding you for part of your trip (cause at the same time I was still in the US). She told me that it was like you were the tour guide because you knew so much about the places that you have visited together. As one of the brightest IT people you were so excited to visit the born-town of the father of the computers, John Atanasov.

After you came back from Bulgaria, I visited you in Lawrenceville and stayed with you and your family for a couple of days. I was taken such a good care and enjoyed your attention. I will never forget these days when you were showing me your area, walking with Jake and discussing variety of topics on which I enjoyed every minute spent together because of the optimism and desire to learn and develop that you have passed to me.

Next summer we have met again, unforgetable moments for me, because you and your family are such a great people and you made me feel like at home while with you!

Dear Marti, Jesse, Caleb, Keturah,
Please accept my sincere condolences!

Dear Dan,
Thanks for your friendship! I will always keep the bright memories of the time spent together! Rest in peace!


Bret Anderson:

"Baca-kan Baca-kan, akal fikiran kebangsaa
dua puloh sen atau dua kupan
baca propaganda kerajaan"
(Read it, Read it, national common sense thinking
twenty cents or 2 coupans
read the government propaganda

These are the words that Cikgu Dan and his 'ter kenal' partner Steve Mellema wrote to to the tune of the 60's song "Daily News." It is mildly critical of the government of the country where we were Peace Corps Volunteers. Dan and Steve were in demand as folk singers at the University Malaya sceene. Thanks Dan and Steve for all the great song sessions that we had.

Just this past week, I have made my first visit to Malaysia after nearly 20 years. Much has changed in Kuala Lumpur but the people there are much the same as they were back in the 1970's when I met Dan and became his friend. Boy, did we have some adventures. The most famous one was with my first adopted daughter, Norhawani, but that is a long and detailed story. We went on some great motorcycle rides, didn't we. Some of the places that we knew are still there but many are not. However, Dan, you will be glad to know that the wonderful food, the roti, nasi padang, kuaytau noodles and on and on are still the same there. Remember the 8 course lunch we had at the wonderful Hotel Majestic? It is still there but is abandoned and sits like a ghost across from the no longer used train station. The Coleseum Cafe is stil there and they still serve sizzling steaks. I think that some of the waiters are still the there from our days.

I was lucky to know Marty as well while a graduate student at Teachers College. If ever there were two people made for each other, it was them two. The same wit, compassion and humor. The two of them helped me make the decision to get married. Here I sit, at Poppy's Hotel in Kuta, Bali with my wife Tobey of 29 years. Boy, am I glad that I listened to you both.

It is nice to see all the great things that people have written about Dan. So much good in a person. I miss him but have no trouble calling him to mind, hearing his laugh.

I had the pleasure to meet Dan in the mid-1990's when we joined together as presenters for several Internet related conferences in South America to promote JvNCNet/GES.

When I later moved to New Jersey (from Argentina) and work in Princeton I visited him frequently at his office in the University Campus. I also lived in the Lawrenceville area and remember stopping by his home that if my memory is not failing was just across the street from the High School where his beloved wife was teaching.

Dan was a true gentleman and one of the unknown heroes of the early
BITNET and Internet days.

My most sincere regards to his family, I know for sure that his
soul is in good hands.

Jorge Amodio
San Antonio, Texas


I still miss him.

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