Dan Charles Daly
March 1952 - November 2023
Dan Charles Daly, 71, passed away peacefully and surrounded by family. Dan was a lifelong educator and mentor, an avid outdoorsman, a gifted carpenter, a skilled negotiator, a dear friend to many, and simply a good man who lived a great life with no regrets. He was abundantly generous, practical, and wise. His motto was, “No Bad Days.”
Dan was born in Aberdeen, Washington, to Donna Haines Daly and Charles Gurrad. Growing up, he loved to play sports and was a varsity football player, wrestler and track athlete at Hoquiam High School. He went on to wrestle in college for Washington State University and Western Washington State College.
In 1969 he met Kathleen Leeds, and they married in September of 1971, earned their degrees at Western Washington State College, and after graduation, got teaching jobs in Hoquiam. They built their first house there in the summer of 1975.
Dan and Kathy later moved to Klamath Falls, Oregon, where he taught high school math and coached football and wrestling. Daughters Janet and Karlyn were born, and then the family of four moved to Aurora, Colorado, where he took a job as a UniServ Director for multiple teacher organizations. At age 37 he enrolled in law school at the University of Colorado, and later he became an arbitrator and mediator. He never missed any of his daughters’ volleyball or lacrosse games (or any opportunity to teach them a life lesson).
Later, Dan returned to work at the Colorado Education Association, ultimately working as a lobbyist at the state capitol. After receiving a diagnosis of chronic leukemia in 2009, he took that as his sign to retire early and live his best life. He and Kathy built a timber frame home on their land north of Buena Vista, CO, doing much of the work themselves. Dan always had a cabin project in the works and loved spending time there with his four grandsons. Dan and Kathy took several international vacations, including biking adventures around Europe. But their best trips involved family—hitting baseball parks around the western US, exploring the mountain West, and the highlight: in 2021, celebrating their 50th anniversary in Mexico with family.
Dan never missed deer and elk hunting season with his friends. He also backpacked and canoed in Yellowstone and other wilderness areas as often as he could, including as recently as this past August. He was always happiest walking in the woods and fishing and ATVing with his grandsons (or perhaps drinking a piña colada in San Jose del Cabo). He took great pleasure in serving his Chaffee County community on the Sangre de Cristo Electric Association Board from 2016 until the present and served on the board of the Colorado Wrestling Officials Association after a long tenure as a high school wrestling official. He also volunteered on his local homeowner association board in Buena Vista, working on multiple projects over the years.
If there is one thread that ran throughout Dan’s life, it was that of empowering others. He taught middle and high school, coached football and wrestling, mentored wrestling officials, advocated for teachers as both a UniServ Director and a CEA lobbyist. He taught one daughter how to change the brake pads on her car and a close friend how to build a backyard fence. When a high school student with potential for a college volleyball scholarship could not afford the club fees, he sponsored her, knowing a college degree would allow her a far brighter future. And he continued these giving acts throughout his life.
He believed in taking responsibility for your actions, whether it was to remove all the lights in the bathroom when his daughters ignored his requests to turn off the lights or holding an Oregon school superintendent responsible for lying to the local taxpayers by exposing those lies to the press. He also advocated for responsible clean energy growth in his role as a Sangre de Cristo electric coop board member. He even purchased one of the first Rivian electric trucks on the market.
If you requested help, he gave it. If you wanted advice, he dispensed that as well. If you were worried, he’d ask, “Does it help?” He fixed everything from his mother-in-law’s microwave to a broken washing machine. His grandsons truly believed that their Grandad could fix anything.
He just couldn’t fix cancer.
In September his diagnosis of chronic leukemia was revised to a rare, acute leukemia. Although he started treatment, the disease progressed rapidly and made it impossible for him to receive a stem cell transplant.
Dan is survived by his wife Kathleen, his daughters Janet (Andrew) and Karlyn (Chris) and grandsons Nolan, Holden, Teddy, and Wesley. He is also survived by his mother Donna Haines Daly and his father Charles Gurrad, his siblings Debora Gurrad (Rob Griffiths), George Daly (Debbie), Jennifer Skylark, Elizabeth Moyer (Ron), and Patricia Teiche (Bob), and many nieces and nephews. His stepfather, Frank Daly, predeceased him in 2008.
Dan’s family especially wants to thank the nurses, doctors, and care team at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Hospital who took excellent care of him in his final weeks of life. Instead of sending flowers, please consider donating blood or signing up to be a stem cell donor at Be The Match. Another wonderful organization is the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which offered valuable support during this time.
The Daly family is hosting a Celebration of Life Open House for Dan from 2:00 - 5:00 p.m. on December 14 at the MCA Cube at 8371 Northfield Boulevard, Denver, CO 80238. To RSVP, please click on the link: https://pp.events/aaKZAxGm
Please share memories of Dan and condolences with his family by signing the online guestbook below.