Griggs gives eulogy for Dan GreenwaldDan Greenwald, 86, of Hudson died Monday, Jan. 12, and his funeral was Jan. 17 at Bethel Lutheran Church. He was active in many community organizations. The following eulogy was written and delivered by Jay Griggs at the funeral:
Dan Greenwald, 86, of Hudson died Monday, Jan. 12, and his funeral was Jan. 17 at Bethel Lutheran Church. He was active in many community organizations. The following eulogy was written and delivered by Jay Griggs at the funeral:
“Dan Greenwald left his mark on the Hudson community and its people in many ways, virtually all of them under the radar and out of the media and the public eye.
“I had the pleasure of serving with him on the boards of the Hudson Memorial Health Foundation and the Carpenter Nature Center and also as a member of the PG’s. I want to address his contributions in those three areas today.
“Dan was a charter member of the Health Foundation when it was formed in 1984. He assumed the presidency three years later and was still president at the time of his death 22 years later.
“As the foundation’s ‘president forever,’ as some of us referred to him, he presided over the annual Al Hein Memorial Golf Tournament, which has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for hospital and health-related projects during the past 27 years.
“Even though he wasn’t a golfer, he knew how to raise money and was constantly looking for new ways to extract dollars. He had no qualms about squeezing a hospital contractor or vendor for a hole sponsorship.
“Dan was also instrumental in establishing the Lifeline program at Hudson Hospital, which allowed many people to continue to live independently in their homes rather than an institution. The foundation purchases the Lifeline radio transmitters and rents them to individuals who wear them around their neck. If they fall or have some other emergency, they can push a button on the unit and an alarm goes off in the hospital, which then can send help.
“Dan was a taskmaster. Each year he signed hundreds of solicitation letters for the foundation and if the recipient didn’t respond within a certain timeframe, his or her name was turned over to a board member for a personal contact.
“When Dan asked me to join the Carpenter Nature Center board 14 years ago, he was typically blunt. ‘Those people are spending themselves out of existence,’ he said. ‘We need some business people on that board to reign it in.’
“I arrived at my first meeting to see that he appeared to be ‘president forever’ on that board as well. A few years later, when the board felt it was time to begin moving other leaders through the presidency, I was dispatched to break the news to Dan.
“I was shivering in my boots, fearing that he might take offense or be hurt or feel rejection and, heaven forbid, leave our board.
“My fears were unwarranted. He accepted the news with grace and concurred that it was indeed time for new ideas and new leadership. ‘But I am not giving up my spot on the finance committee,’ he informed me.
“He took that responsibility very seriously. In recent years, as his health deteriorated, he continued to attend meetings, his presence limited only by the amount of oxygen in his portable bottle.
“At a recent meeting, he apologized for having to leave early. ‘I have to get home before the nurse gets there,’ he said. ‘I’m not supposed to be out of the house.’
“He continued to serve on the committee and the board right up to the end. In my last visit with him last week at Regions Hospital, he coached me on what needed to be done, in the event he couldn’t make our budget meeting this past Thursday morning.
“Dan loved the PG’s, which is short for Philosophical Gentlemen. It is a group of about 30 men, many of whom are seated here today, that grew out of a golf foursome many years ago. Those who are able and in town get together for lunch every Friday.
“There are no bylaws, no rules, no dues, you can’t join unless you are asked and you can never resign. We do nothing other than have lunch and enjoy each other’s company, with one exception.
“Once a year we hold a ‘convocation,’ hosted by our founder, Will Savadge, the last surviving member of the original foursome. At that event, our coveted Tin Cup Trophy is filled with donations that are later distributed to some of our favorite charities. The tin cup is then passed on from the previous year’s recipient to the PG who will be our chairman for the coming year.
“Dan got the tin cup in 2005 and when he returned the following year to pass it on, being the engineer and philanthropist that he was, he had modified it. He had added a tin pail, so there would be more room for donations.
“Although he was then staying at the care center at Hammond and was in considerable pain, Dan insisted on attending our PG Christmas party Dec. 27. He came with his friend Nan Lopatka and son Jack in a wheel chair, with his ever-present oxygen bottle. His hips were hurting him so much that we got baggies of ice to stuff against them in the chair. But he had his scotch, ate his meal and enjoyed the company of his friends.
“I believe it was the last time he was out in public and it was an inspiration to all of us.
“Dan’s greatest legacies, which he shares with his late friends and neighbors, Al and Laurie Hein, can be found on Vine Street here in Hudson and just south of here in the Cove area near his home.
“In the early ’90s, when some of us began an effort to build a YMCA in Hudson, we determined that the best location was a piece of land on Vine Street, but we had no money to buy it. Dan stepped in and donated the entire purchase price, more than $100,000, from the Hein Trust.
“Today, a beautiful facility, which has twice been expanded and is used by thousands of area residents each day, sits on that land. And it was our friend, Dan, who jumpstarted the effort and gave the committee the encouragement it needed to press on with the effort.
“The other legacy came about without fanfare and virtually without publicity, yet it will impact generations for eternity and will become even more important as time passes.
“I’m speaking of 300 acres of woods and prairie and trails that have been permanently protected from development and are now open to the public as part of the Wisconsin campus of the Carpenter Nature Center.
“After her husband’s death, Laurie Hein donated to the Nature Center the first 95 acres of woods, along with $250,000 in cash to care for the property and to purchase food for the deer and other wildlife.
“Then, after Laurie’s death, Dan became the trustee of the Hein Trust. In 1990, he used $250,000 from the trust to buy an adjacent 77 acres of prairie and donate it to the Nature Center.
“Then, in 1998, when the owner of an adjacent 116 acres made it known that he intended to develop it into 47 home sites, and neighbors began a $1 million campaign to buy the property to protect it from development, Dan stepped in again and contributed yet another $250,000 from the Hein Trust to jumpstart that effort.
“Because of Dan’s involvement, years from now and forever, there will be a 300-acre island of protected wildlife preserve, natural forest and prairie for the public to enjoy. A kiosk on the corner of the prairie, commemorating Dan’s involvement, contains maps of the trails and descriptions of the flora and fauna.
“Someday, when we are able to raise the money, a visitors and education center will be built in the woods there to further the mission of the Carpenter Nature Center. My only regret is that that couldn’t have happened in Dan’s lifetime, as it was certainly his vision.
“Yes, our friend Dan was opinionated. He could be brutally blunt and he spoke with volume and authority. You always knew where you stood with Dan.
“But he also had a heart of gold and he has left us with many things with which to remember him.
“Sometime, when you seek a few moments of solitude or have a desire to step out of the rat race and commune with nature, drive down towards Dan’s house and walk one of the trails.
“And as you do, reflect on the many things our friend Dan did for our community. Thank you.”