Alfred C.W. Daniels


Alfred C.W. Daniels passed away peacefully on Nov. 26, 2022, in Falmouth Hospital, with his daughter Alfie and son Jerry close by his side. He was 88. 

Emma Bleiler

Born on March 22, 1934, Alfred spent his early years in Philadelphia, where his father, Albert Daniels, owned a dry-cleaning business, and his mother, Princess Wynder Daniels, worked as an interpreter for the U.S. government. He went on to become president of the class of 1951 at Eastern District High School in Brooklyn, N.Y., graduating with honors at age 17.

The following year began an adventure of two decades in flight: At 18, Alfred enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, first training as a control tower and ground controller approach specialist, then entering aircraft engineering training. Within 12 months, he graduated as a lieutenant, and subsequently flew more than 1,000 hours as a performance engineer on the B-36 bomber. In 1957, he entered pilot training and graduated at the top of nearly 50 students in his class, going on to accumulate 1,700 hours as a flight instructor in the Lockheed T-33 at Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma. Ever hungry for more knowledge, Alfred enrolled at Arizona State University under the Air Force Institute of Technology Program, receiving his B.S. in electrical engineering in 1964. His success there earned him a place in the Tau Beta Pi and Eta Kappa Nu honorary engineering societies.

In 1966, Alfred went to Vietnam, flying more than 200 missions as senior rated pilot in the Sabreliner T-39 jet, and receiving four air medals: the Air Medal (three times), the Outstanding Unit Award (twice), the Vietnam Service Medal (twice), and the Combat Readiness Medal. When he returned to the States, Alfred and his family were stationed at Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford, where he did research and development at the MITRE Research Establishment until his retirement as a major from the Air Force after 20 years of service. 

But Al wanted to learn more. For him, retirement meant entering Harvard Law School at age 38. As a student there, he worked as an investigator for American criminal defense attorney F. Lee Bailey, and graduated with his J.D. in 1975. Though he passed the bar after graduation, he did not practice law until nearly 20 years later. 

All the while, Al had built a family, and they eventually put down roots in Massachusetts. He met and married wife Ada in 1957, and they had four children: daughters Carmen and Alfie, and sons David and Jerry. Following Al’s graduation from Harvard Law, the Daniels family lived in Lexington, and Al remained at Harvard for two years as an assistant dean of the law school. From there, he went to work for H.H. Aerospace Design Co., where he would eventually become president and owner. With the recession of the late ’80s came the demise of the company, and Al and Ada, along with their youngest child, Alfie, moved to Martha’s Vineyard, where Al practiced as a public defender until his final retirement in 2014. 

Al’s lifelong devotion to work and learning was matched by his devotion to his family, community, and church. Family vacations were spent camping in Maine and Canada. He rarely missed his children’s school events while they were at home; and later, both he and Ada would travel to various New England states to watch their children’s college sports competitions. (Al himself had been a fiercely competitive basketball and handball player while in the Air Force.) And he was, of course, a devoted Boston sports fan, and especially loved the Celtics during the Bill Russell era.

We who knew him will miss his gregarious spirit and his ready smile. 

Alfred was predeceased by his wife of 57 years, Ada, and his first son, David. He is survived by daughters Carmen and Alfie, and son Jerry.

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  1. I knew Al, or Attorney Daniels, from my years working in the Clerk’s Office in the Edgartown District Court. I really had no idea what a life he had led prior to becoming a public defender. Rest in peace Al.

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