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
Dan was a lovely human being and a consummate, caring professional–he will be greatly missed by his many friends at Carnegie Hall. We first came to Purchase College with our National Youth Orchestra of the USA in 2013 and have since spent a month each summer with what are now 200+ students filling the stages and many other spaces of the PAC. Dan, coffee in hand, was often the first person we’d see each morning our staff and students filed in, and he always had a smile. His support in ways large and small was invaluable, and his instinct to help if he possibly could, deeply appreciated. Patience and good humor are wonderful qualities in any one but especially for an administrator in a busy arts center. Dan exemplified both. His enjoyment in his work and even in the sound of 200 teenagers taking over the PAC (and not always being thoughtful about it) was evident, even when managing the inevitable kerfuffles that would arise. It’s hard, and more than a little sad, to imagine returning this summer without him, but he’ll be very fondly remember for all he did to help our programs and the people in them feel at home at Purchase. My condolences to his family and his many dear colleagues and friends.
I met Dan only a few times as I was looking to plan some events at the Center. I found him to be warm hearted, engaging, and unbelievably knowledgable. He gave me an amazing tour every time I visited with clients and was so sweet each time we corresponded. I was so sad to hear of his passing – a tragic loss for sure. My sincerest condolences to his family and his colleagues. He will be missed.
There is no better way of summing up Dan’s presence at Purchase College that this site’s tributes. I must have done a hundred shows at Dan’s venue with various faculty, student and external organizations.
Every one of them was given equal consideration and effort. I can’t say that about any other venue or any other manager in the world.
While I did not work with Dan regularly, we occasionally crossed paths and he was always a delightful person and willing to help. Two years ago he gave me and the SOA Dean a tour of the PAC theaters and told us of a history of each space that was filled with passion and pride! His enthusiasm for his place on campus was remarkable. I am sorry for this very sad loss.
I have worked with Dan on numerous occasions in the many years I’ve been at Purchase College. Dan was such a pleasant fellow to work with, and an inspiration in his confidence, knowledge, and approach. I always knew when I worked at the PAC that I would be supported by Dan and his team — it was always a pleasure. I always looked forward to working with Dan. I was so shocked to learn of Dan’s passing, and at that moment felt my heart drop. My sincere condolences to his family — immediate, at the PAC, and beyond. He will be greatly missed.
Dan Sedgwick was the glue for so many years at PAC and there would have been no Rob Mathes Holiday Concert there without him shepherding it through many administrations. He was so kind and when he was the go-to, he took care of business and gave us the best deal he could understanding the limitations of it being a locally produced charity event. When he was not the go-to and just supporting a new leader in the office he was attentive, helpful, gracious and supportive; he was just a completely unpretentious and graceful soul. We will miss him dearly and I think him for all he did for us over the years! Love and gratitude always Dan. Rest in peace! Rob Mathes
Dan’s death – so sad. He was personable, even-handed and effective in PAC and CTS collaborations. On occasion Dan let me behind the scenes for memorable performances. He was a kind man. CTS extends our sympathies to Dan’s family. Alan Philpot, CTS Assistant Director
Though I did not have many opportunities to cross paths with him, each and every time I did, Dan was kind, gracious, and went out of his way to be helpful.
He will be missed.
My condolences to his family and friends.
Dan was the very first person I had an in-depth conversation with after being hired @ the PAC. I had no idea then of his history here. He was warm, endearing, incredibly funny, and obviously had lived a well-traveled and event-filled life. I knew I had landed in a very special, welcoming place, and would benefit greatly from hearing more of his and Lisa’s adventures. I already miss plopping myself in his custom blue velvet theatre chair, knowing whatever I needed answered would soon be forthcoming. Dan was also graced with my own husband’s first name. More than once I texted “Hey Babe” to my husband and realized later, horrified, that my message went to the wrong Dan. When I walked into the break room one morning behind Dan after one such faux-pas, I said “Hey, Babe”. He didn’t miss a beat, turned, and with a broad smile, said ‘” seemed like you were having a great time” and went about making his coffee. He was a true gentleman.
Dan was such a legend of this space. His calm demeanor and fortitude to make events happen, even in the face of complications, was truly inspiring. May he Rest In Peace.
I was so shocked to hear of Dan’s passing. As one of his former clients, I’m sure his presence will be felt. My most sincere condolences to his family and friends.
Dan was the first person that we had contact with at the PAC, and over the past 2 years, he did so much for us, as an organization. During our time on site, he was a rock, and wonderful support, as well as able to keep the mood light, certainly a challenge during a week long event, but he was a superman! He was a kind, and profoundly wonderful person, and he will be deeply missed. All of my condolences to his family and friends – thank you Dan, for everything.
Dan was truly a gentleman and someone I admired greatly. He was a tremendous help in getting Purchase Baseball’s annual fundraiser off the ground at the beautiful PAC. He was warm, friendly, intelligent, and thoughtful. What a tremendous loss for the PAC and for Purchase College as a whole. He will be truly missed.
Dan was part of the heart and humanity of the Center. We worked more than 8 years together and I grew to get to know him as one of the kindest people who always had an ear to listen to anything that was on your heart or mind. I remember going to him when I was to no longer be a part of the family and he made me feel loved and heard. Dan will be in my heart as more than a coworker, but as Janice says “Uncle Dan”. Sending so much love to him, his family and those who had the privilege of knowing him. Dan the Man with the biggest smile. We love you.
We hired Dan to replace me. My job had literally been built around me. I remember we interviewed a number of people and Dan stood out hands down as the right guy for the job. His intelligence, his calm way, has kindness all stood out. We hired him several months before I left so I could get him up to speed. Of course, he absorbed everything like a sponge. I will always remember carrying his daughter, Harriet, around the PAC, because she was a happy baby who loved to be held upside down, which Dan found as amusing as the rest of us. Since my time there we kept in touch, whether talking about technical issues, bits of PAC history, politics, or just life. I will miss him. My love to Lisa and his daughters.
Dan was a very kind man who brightened my day with a smile and friendly word every time I walked past his office, his door was always open. Fifteen years after I graduated from Purchase, I walked by again, his door was open, he greeted me warmly. Peace be with his family, colleagues and friends.
Dan was always so helpful when we presented courses over the last 20 years in the PAC, letting us use the kitchen when we needed to make masks for Commedia dell’ Arte, helping us store costumes and props, always aware of our needs smiling and kind. He will be missed very much. – Lenka Pichlíková, Professor of T&P
Dan was always so helpful when we presented courses in the PAC, letting us use the kitchen when we needed to make masks for Commedia dell’ Arte, helping us store costumes and props, always aware of our needs smiling and kind. – Lenka Pichlíková, Professor of T&P
Dan was always there for my Crew and Myself, through hundreds of shows It is hard to imagine the PAC without Dan Sedgwick. The World is a little darker without him…
Dan was one of the nicest people I’ve been fortunate to work for. His very calm and casual approach to problems made every task seem easy to accomplish. When I came back to campus after my dad passed, he hugged me and cried and said very genuinely how sorry he was that I’d have to carry on without him. I’ve tried to carry some small reminder of the empathy of that moment everywhere I’ve worked, like a trinket in my pocket that I can reach for and remember what it felt like to have someone reach out when no one else knew what to say. I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to reach out and catch up, but so fortunate to have gotten to know him briefly along the wonderful and full life he lived.
During my many years at Purchase, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Dan on a number of projects in the Performing Arts Center and on various search committees. I had the privilege of seeing firsthand how well he made things come together for everyone, while my family and I attended performances at the PAC. Dan was impressively professional, a true gentleman, and approached everything with precision, passion, and had an unbridled love for the theater. Always smiling, he was a very giving individual, offering help, advice, and he made working at Purchase that much better. My sincere thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time. While the college seems a little darker today due to this great loss, the stars above are that much brighter.
Dan Sedgwick was a gem. He had to train us all how to spell his last name. He was always there. He grew so much in his job. While we lived through years of our “Nutcracker” together he understood all the crazy parts required to make it work. He was comforting, a problem solver, he trusted and inspired trust, and thoroughly enjoyed some of the cute, silly things that occurred, on purpose or not. He had a wonderful twinkle in his eye. And talk about always there. Dan helped me do my job better. I hope I helped him. He loved his family and they were so great to let him spend countless hours, mornings,evenings and weekends at the PAC for all of us. RIP Dan and May sugar plum fairies dance for you forever.
Carol & Scotty Walker
Dan embodied class and dignity in all that he did. He was a gentleman of the highest order. I had the great fortune to work with Dan on a number of projects, with the most special ones being the annual commencement ceremonies. Dan understood the essence of the performance and, most importantly, the impact on the audience. I learned many lessons about productions and about life from Dan. I was blessed to have known him during my tenure at Purchase. Rest in peace, Dan.
Dan Sedgwick will be truly missed, he was an asset to Purchase College, a great collaborator and a gentleman.
Dan was unflappable, gracious, generous of his time, and patient with his colleagues. He always made me feel cared for and a part of a larger team, the Purchase team. He will be missed.
Dan Sedgwick was one of the most wonderful people who ever worked at Purchase College. I knew him for several decades, no small feat, in his role of the master of the PAC! His kindness, his professionalism, his wisdom, his helpfulness–where do you begin to describe a man who made the PAC run as well as it did for so many decades? I worked with Dan on many, many programs. He always found a way to resolve problems and to give sage advice. I could not have done anything without his assistance. And his dry sense of humor buoyed us all. He toiled for so long without seeking any applause of his own, a rare attribute. I enjoyed every conversation we ever had, and there were a lot of them. Dan left this earth too early, but we should use him as a model of true excellence. My heartfelt sympathy to his family. –Lisa Keller, Professor of History
I worked with Dan on a number of issues and he was a professional always. My condolences to his family and friends. He did a lot for the College.