It is with profound sadness that we write this post today, to share our thoughts and remembrances of longtime PAC staff member Dan Sedgwick.
Dan passed away on Friday, January 1. He worked at The PAC for more than 30 years, performing a wide range of roles with kindness, professionalism, and an unmatched sense of humor. He will be sorely missed.
The PAC is planning a celebration of Dan’s life, to take place outdoors in March of this year. More details will be posted as they become available.
If you would like to add your own thoughts and memories, please use the comments box below.
I’ve always thought it was critical to build and lead an organization to be strong, mission-driven, able to live on for generations. People play a critical role, but the organizational strength should be such that it continues to thrive even as the people change in and out. Dan Sedgwick defied my hypothesis; he is irreplaceable. He was our willing historian and storyteller. Anytime I had a question that dated back to before my tenure I would find Dan and get not just the information I sought, but brilliant story upon brilliant story. Dan was truly the master of our amazing building, there was not a corner or aspect of it that he couldn’t tell you everything about from memory. When something broke, our first move was always to go get Dan. Dan did everything with warmth and a smile, and no matter how busy he was, he was always glad to stop for a chat, a story, a joke, or to offer advice. When moments were difficult Dan was always even-keeled, a calming presence for us all.
As remarkable as his contributions to Purchase College and The PAC are and will continue to be for years though, what I will carry with me most fondly is the memory of the man. Dan always led with passion and enthusiasm. He was a devoted family man, arts lover and so much more. He cared about The PAC as much as I have ever known anyone to care about a job, because it was more than a job to Dan, it was a mission. We were all lucky to have known Dan. We will not meet a person of his caliber again anytime soon. Our deep condolences to his family and the many, many people who will miss him dearly. –Seth Soloway, Director
I first arrived as a student at Purchase in 1987. Dan had already started a few months ahead of me, and he has been a constant presence around The PAC and campus since then. It is difficult to imagine not seeing him again going forward.
I initially thought I would list the various roles that he has held over the last three and a half decades at the PAC and throughout the College, but I really do not think that I can successfully list them all. In all of his years at Purchase, Dan became an invaluable and irreplaceable repository of knowledge about the College and the PAC. He also knew almost everyone at Purchase and you could always count on him to know just who to call to quickly resolve a problem.
However, Dan was by no means defined by his work roles. He was also a passionate supporter of the arts and a number of social causes. He was frequently seen enjoying the performances at The PAC along with his wife Lisa. He was a personal friend to many of the current and former Purchase staff and students. On a personal level, when I found myself in the hospital a number of years ago, I was only mildly surprised to see Dan standing there beside my parents as I was wheeled in for treatment.
It is hard to not imagine Dan looking down on all of this shock, grief, and sense of loss at his sudden passing, jotting a few lines in his omnipresent 6X9 top spiral bound notepad, giving his head a half shake and duly pronouncing “Hmm. Hell of a deal.” –Justin Herminghouse, Production Technology Manager
To write that someone is woven into the fabric of an institution may seem cliché. I cannot find a more apt description of Dan’s presence at Purchase College and the PAC. During his tenure, he worked with countless staff, students, and community members.
At work, Dan was unflappable and approached every situation with even keel. He was kind and thoughtful. Whenever something had gone awry he followed up. From leaking ceilings to raccoon invasions, he was there. He spoke about driving in Alaska, how motorists always stopped to assist someone who was stranded. I thought that was his approach to work and life as well.
On weeknights without performances, we would always check-in before leaving to apprise each other of building lockup and activity, and, since we were both heading to Connecticut, the current status of the Merritt Parkway. I am still amazed by the number of truck drivers who end up wedged under the King Street bridge. During those final checks before heading out we often talked about our shared interests – family, his travels with Lisa, Harriet’s studies and work, theatre, books, and politics. The conversations since 2016 were pretty lively on the latter topic.
Long before coming to Purchase, from Alaska to Italy to many places in between, Dan told of people he encountered and experiences with delight. I will miss the way he shared his recollections. We have lost a friend and a tireless advocate for the college and The PAC. There is no database to match the wealth of knowledge he possessed. My thoughts, prayers, and deepest condolences are with his family. –Tania Mather, Ticket Office Manager
I was devastated to learn of Dan Sedgwick’s passing. It was so sudden, unexpected, and profound. Mostly because Dan exuded longevity. I truly thought he would end up in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest man alive. Surely he would live well into his hundreds.
He was immensely kind and always chose to see the good in people. He would try to help anyone who happened to need it. A few years ago during a summer heatwave my air conditioner broke. He had an extra one at his home. On the day he was leaving for a vacation he drove one down to the Bronx, helped carry it up three flights of stairs, and install it. I remarked that it could have waited until he was back from vacation but he didn’t want me to go through the heatwave without one. That’s absolutely the kind of guy he was.
Dan was a good friend to me and we had this avuncular kind of relationship. I’ll miss calling him “Uncle Dan.” I’ll also miss calling him “Sedge-hog.” I’m not sure if he ever really liked that nickname but I called him it anyway. He helped to guide me through my formative years. When I faced serious health issues, Dan was always the first person to get in touch and send sincere well-wishes. He was keenly intelligent and I appreciated his sage wisdom and knowledgeable anecdotes. Some were just plain eccentric and fun. I appreciated those too.
Dan was so proud of his family. I always knew what his wife, daughters, and grandkids were up to. I loved the way you could see how happy they made him.
Dan was also proud of the work he did at The PAC. He was deeply passionate about the arts and loved The PAC. That was evident. He served The PAC and Purchase well, and this loss will be felt for a long time to come. He was our unofficial PAC historian. This is the end of an era for us.
I will miss Dan’s laugh and quirky, dry humor. PAC staff have been swapping stories and memories and there are so many funny moments we have all had with him. We’re crying… but we’re laughing too, and he would appreciate that.
He is deeply missed. –Janice Kahl, House Operations Director
How to describe all the things Dan was: historian, storyteller, mentor, colleague, friend? Dan was my “go-to” for everything imaginable, because, if it related to Purchase, he had been there and done that and could tell you what you needed to know about it. He knew everyone, and everyone knew him. He was so generous with his expertise, in all things! Dan was also my guide to the theatre world outside Purchase. He and Lisa went to all the shows, and he had a critic’s eye and ear for movies and television, too. I have Dan to thank for recommending Slings and Arrows. Where we were once in constant communication, COVID reduced us to the occasional Zoom call. And now? “Outrageous fortune” indeed. –Coni Guhl, Administrative Coordinator
I always thought of myself as a member of The Performing Arts Center family. Dan was a good friend and colleague. I think that the first time I met Dan in his office, and I noticed his poster of Jimi Hendrix, I knew we would get along fine. Dan was one of those people that when he would call me I would drop everything. He was my Guru of The PAC. I have often said that if you could have as an epitaph that you were a really lovely man – what a tribute. That was Dan. I am honored that he was a part of my and Suzy’s lives.
My sincere condolences to all my buddies over at the PAC, my life got a little less bright when I heard this news. -Charles Pinnix