In Memory

Danny Brown

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08/13/21 05:26 PM #3    

Steven Levinson

Danny Brown was my spiritual brother.  For the last six-and-a-half years, we talked by phone every Sunday morning for 90 minutes, beginning at 9:00 a.m. (Hawaii time) and ending at 4:30 p.m. (Cincinnati time), when Danny would begin his regular afternoon nap.  This past Sunday, August 8, after my usual "How're ya doing?" Danny said that he was experiencing "a wall of pain."  Danny was always in pain, so the new label frightened me.  "Are we near?" I think I wondered.  Toward the end of our ninety minutes, I put the next call on my calendar -- 9:00 a.m., August 15.  "Good God," I said, "do you realize that it'll be the Ides of August already?"  "Love ya, Dan," I said, as I always did.  "Love you back," he said, as he always did.  "Take care," I said, as I always did.

And then Gail's Tuesday notice.  Death feels like an ambush, even when one has been expecting it for years.  "But we're talking next Sunday," I thought.  "It's on the calendar."

The health gods weren't kind to Danny.  They ravaged him for decades and reduced him, as he put it, satirically, to a state of "gimpery."  The health gods were relentless and cruel, permitting Danny not a moment of physical comfort.  Danny spoke of his physical condition with humor and grace.  I wouldn't have if it were me.  Danny didn't crack -- no how, no way.  His self-discipline was vicelike and total, except for his smoking, which he refused to relinquish.  A person has to feel some physical pleasure.  And Danny used to have so many pleasures.  He'd always exuded a magnetic attraction.  The girls flung themselves at him.  Danny took it as a matter of course.  The guys hectored him to join their fraternities, Jewish and non-Jewish.  So Danny knew that he could join, but he didn't.  He knew who he was. That included knowing that he had "married badly."

Danny valued excellence and precision, and his standards were high.  He was a keen and astute observer; he understood how the world worked.  Danny's world was Edith Wharton's, a House of Mirth.  Nothing he did was half-assed.  From his 1964 Remembrancer, to his art curating, acquisition, dealing, and consulting, to his monthly online art journal, Aeqai, his work product was stellar.  And could Danny tell a story!  Danny valued language and its proper usage.  He was never inarticulate.  Danny loved literature, and consumed classic and contemporary fiction like a black hole.

Danny did not suffer fools, even when circumstances required him to be in their presence -- which was regularly.  But Danny was full of compassion when compassion was called for and was always ready to assist, nurture, and mentor, as his many godchildren would attest.

Danny's condition reduced him to poverty, but he never lost his dignity, sense of self-worth, and engagement with the world.

So you take care, Dan.

08/14/21 01:58 PM #4    

Diane Wiesen (Todd)

Steve, your description of Danny Brown touched me. I adored him. He was unique. The pleasure of dancing with him is still one of my fondest memories. And we even won a couple of jitterbug contests together! We knew the whole family-brilliance reigned. And looking forward to taking the school bus to Bond Hill post WH to play & hang out. I know life was never simple. But it sure seems simple in the best way in my memories. Danny, your memory will be a blessing to so many. Thank you dear friend. You've earned your rest🌸

08/14/21 02:47 PM #5    

Dale Gieringer

Sorry to hear about Danny, especially his health travails.   I enjoyed sharing furtive jokes with him in Latin class   (funny what one remembers after so many years).   He was blessed with a good-natured spirit.

08/14/21 11:36 PM #6    

Stephanie Riger

I was so sorry to learn of Danny's death.  I haven't seen him since high school but I remember clearly his warm smile and friendly words.  He will be missed.

Here's a great interview with him:

08/15/21 09:32 AM #7    

Ira Goldberg

When we were first promoting participation in our class Performing Arts Find, I spoke with Danny for my first time beyond in passing. As we discussed WHHS, he shared an incident regarding the Remembrancer. If I recall correctly, he had the task of Editor in Chief, yet ran into opposition from our Principal around a photo of Danny and Anna Marie, sitting closely together. The line I recall was a firm "I told him that I am the Editor and without our photo in the book, there won't be a Remembrancer." Danny won over Mr. M. or more to the point simply won that confrontation. This sealed my perception of him as a thoughtful, caring and committed guy who does the right thing. Hence, if you peruse the volume and land on pg. 93, you will likewise admire his moral stance and as Steven described - dignity. 

08/15/21 10:27 AM #8    

Ann Shepard (Rueve)

Steve:  What a touching tribute to Danny on the memorial page. My sincere condolences on the loss of your dear friend. 
Stephanie:  Thank you for the conversation with Danny by Aeqis. I was unaware of his significant influence and presence behind the scene in Cincinnati's arts community, especially with African art. 
Ira:  I remember the picture of Danny and Anna-Marie in the Remembrancer, but unaware of the controversy at the time. All I can say is WOW!  
The Remembrancer picture:

PS.  Steve .... by the way, I was one of the girls who thought he was really good looking.



08/15/21 11:26 AM #9    

Becky Payne (Shockley)

Thank you, Steve, for your beautiful and moving account of your ongoing friendship wth Danny. I appreciate even more his unique gifts, and the severe challenges he faced. 

08/16/21 09:15 PM #10    

Kay Davis (Talwar)

And so, the journey is over….

I met Danny in kindergarten at Bond Hill School. I was five and he was four. I was extremely impressed because he could read.  For whatever reason we immediately became close friends.   In those elementary schooldays we shared positions as lunch monitors and choir companions. Together, in fifth grade, we held the coveted roles of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman on Miss Denick’s Oregon Trail expedition. We moved on to WHHS together and eventually ended up in the same graduate Asian Art History Program at UofM. Danny was Best Man at our wedding.

Over the years there were letters, e-mails, and phone calls. Every summer when I returned to Cincinnati, we made a point to have lunch and catch up. Danny was well read and very active in the art world considering his health issues.  It was always interesting talking with him.  Our favorite gag line was “So, what are we going to be when we grow up?” Despite all our experiences we never quite felt as if we had arrived at adulthood.

Danny could be opinionated and scrappy, but to his friends he was extremely loyal and supportive.

Last week, around the time he passed away, I felt his presence and made a note that I should call him. I didn’t know that was to be the last opportunity.  Maybe that was his way of saying goodbye.  

Wherever you are, Danny, a part of me is there with you. I hope that you are at peace with no pain.

08/16/21 09:22 PM #11    

Cindy Ault (Frakes)

Danny was a special person in my life.  I will always cherish our walks and talks around school.  He was a steady influence who changed my life.  May he rest in peace.

Cindy Ault Frakes


















09/14/21 09:32 AM #12    

Judy Holtzer (Knopf)

I first met Danny when I was transferred to Miss Dennick’s 5th grade class at Bond Hill School. I had transferred to Bond Hill when we moved there just the year before, in 4th grade, so I was pretty much still a loner.

Danny was a complicated and remarkably sensitive person, even at that age. Now, if I had to use one word to describe him, it would be “kind”. He was hilariously funny, passing notes to me in 5th grade and beyond.

After Walnut Hills, we lost touch completely for quite some time. Then, on a whim, I contacted him when we, meaning my husband, children and I, were planning a trip to the States from Israel. I asked if we could meet when I was in Cincinnati, and we arranged the time. We were staying at the house of family friends, and I asked Danny if he would come to meet with me at where we were staying.

I must admit that I was a bit unsure about this meeting since Danny and I had been so completely out of touch for well over a decade, and, well, people change. I was married, a mother of 3, more Israeli than American, and who knows what changes had met Danny? I knew almost nothing about Danny since graduation in 1964. The lovely thing was that, once I saw his familiar grin, I was – poof! – back in the 5th grade. We sat outside the house, to give our hosts their privacy, and talked and laughed outrageously for hours. My children had never seen me like this with any man except my brother. They were so curious about “Imma” acting so familiarly with this strange man whom they had never laid eyes on that they kept sneaking outside to watch us. I felt like I was being chaperoned by a 3-, 6- and 9-year-old. This memory always makes me smile.

I feel quite sad that I will never have a chance to catch up with Danny again. Olov hashalom.

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