Daniel W. Greenbaum of Chilmark died Nov. 13, 2015, surrounded by family, at his home at age 89. He is survived by his wife Anne Barry, his daughters Anne and Susan Greenbaum from his first marriage to Patricia, grandson Edward, and the wonderful children Joanne Kuh, Liz Kuh, Tom Kuh, Sarah Kuh, and Dan Kuh, grandchildren of Anne Barry. Dan was descended from a line of lawyers; his grandfather was a New York Supreme Court judge, and his father founded a liberal law firm in New York City, Greenbaum, Wolff & Ernst.
Born Sept. 20, 1926, to Edward S. and Dorothea Greenbaum, Dan’s love for the Vineyard began in 1932, when his parents began spending summers here. Edward, a lawyer, immediately became engaged with the Vineyard community, issues, and interests, and Dan followed suit when he moved to Chilmark full-time in 2005. Dan served the Island on town- and Vineyard-wide committees and working groups. Shortly before his death, he talked fondly of his work on Vineyard projects. He counted the passage of the Squibnocket agreement, the Chilmark Housing Guidelines, and the roundabout as the proudest engineering moments of his career. In a tribute to Dan at a recent town meeting, his colleagues said that he “brought humor and an open mind to the discussions, and his insightful questions helped frame an issue or a problem so that others could understand.”
A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dan worked as a civil engineer in New York City, retiring as the managing partner at Volmer Associates — an amazing accomplishment for a man who didn’t like to wear shoes. At various times he could be found on the top of the Orange Bowl looking at traffic patterns, beneath the streets of New York City looking at subway tunnels, or somewhere else in the world helping countries improve their toll-road systems. He lived and worked in Colombia and Mexico, and traveled to countless other countries for business and pleasure. As a result, it took him a very long time to read the newspaper, because he was interested in everyplace he had been.
Dan started sailing at age 8 on Menemsha Pond, and retired from racing Sunfish at age 80. When he announced his retirement, many of his fellow sailors asked him to sail with them, and he continued racing, in larger vessels, until a few years ago. He once stated that the most important thing he learned while at MIT was how to race small boats. Charlie Shipway, Olympic and Menemsha Pond sailor, sent this greeting in September: “Happy Birthday, to the fastest man on the pond, ever!” Dan loved racing, and would respond in one of two ways to queries as to the day’s racing results: “It was OK”, meaning he had won, or “Not so good,” meaning he came in lower than first.
Bringing up his daughters in Mamaroneck, N.Y., Dan was a favorite of the neighborhood children. On any given weekend, he could be found making a viewer for the solar eclipse, planning a treasure hunt, sledding down Warren Avenue, or helping with the neighborhood baseball games. He set a great example to his children, and more recently his grandchildren, of what a man should be: thoughtful, compassionate, and giving. Dan didn’t believe in gender stereotypes, and spent time at home cooking, gardening, and vacuuming, as well as doing some of the worst plumbing and carpentry around.
Although his life was very active physically and mentally, many of his best memories were of being on the Vineyard sitting and looking — sunset in Menemsha, sunrise over Lucy Vincent Beach, the meadow from his home in Chilmark, and the views from the homes of his many wonderful friends here.
Dan was proof that good things do happen to good people — he had a wonderful first marriage to Patricia Jean Duncan, who predeceased him, and then was lucky enough to marry his college sweetheart 52 years later.
A celebration of his life will be held Saturday, May 21, 2016, at the Chilmark Community Center. More information will be available later. In lieu of flowers, donations in Dan’s name can be made to Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard, P.O. Box 1748, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568 (hospiceofmv.org).
Arrangements are under the care of the Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home, Edgartown Road, Oak Bluffs. Visit ccgfuneralhome.com for online guest book and information.