Thank You Bob Danzig
I had the honor of knowing and being mentored by Bob Danzig for 21 years.
He always asked about my kids and my husband and my work, and then I’d push through because I always wanted to talk about Bob.
Bob led an extraordinary life and my favorite conversation with him related to Opportunity.
Did Opportunity knock on some doors more than others? Or was it that some of us are better at recognizing opportunity and taking action?
During one of our last phone calls, Bob told me about a musician he’d met, who has still waiting for his “big break.” Bob wondered why Opportunity had visited him more often than the musician.
I had a theory about Bob.
Adversity was his constant companion throughout childhood, so he was forced to develop compensatory skills to manage it. By the time he was an adult, Adversity had been around so long that it didn’t stop him in his tracks.
We talked about the foster homes he grew up in—about half a dozen different homes by the time he was 12.
We talked about the foster mom who chased him with a belt in hand, chomping at the bit to beat him.
We talked about the family that locked him in the attic and the time he escaped and spent the night huddled next to the schoolyard dumpster.
We talked about the black garbage bag he used to carry his few possessions and how he felt so like the trash being taken out during the moves from one foster home to the next.
We talked about the Valentine’s Day cards he wrote to himself because he didn’t want his classmates to know he didn’t have any friends. He was so often the new kid at the school.
We talked about the time he did make a friend and how the friendship ended just as quickly as it began. He went to knock on his friend’s apartment door and was met by an empty apartment and an eviction notice.
We also talked about the kindness that came later.
We talked about how the woman who interviewed him for the office boy position at The Albany Times Union was struck by the hat Bob wore into the office. When she asked why he didn’t take it off, he told her that a friend said he looked young and that he should wear a hat to the interview. He’d never had a hat, so he didn’t know the rules about taking it off inside.
His innocence and honesty won her over. She hired him—and then about 20 years later he became publisher of the paper, and then even more years later moved to NYC to take on the roles of CEO of The Hearst Newspaper Group and VP of The Hearst Corporation.
Throughout it all, he drew people to him and was able to diffuse difficult situations because he knew Empathy. He understood the pain others felt.
He didn’t grow up with a family, so his colleagues became his family, and with them he encouraged cultures of teamwork and collaborations. He placed a high value on nurturing those around him.
His thinking wasn’t shaped from years of being told to do something a certain way. He’d grown up alone, with little guidance beyond his heart.
So little time had been afforded him as a child that he gave so much of his time to others. He had patience and would sit for hours and listen to the problems of those around him.
And because he had been through the gauntlet so many times as a child, when Opportunity came knocking, he saw it for exactly what it was—and was willing to put in the hard work that Opportunity dictates.
Bob died this week, on August 8th, all of 85 years old.
Also on August 8th, Steve wrote about “The Artist’s Journey in the Real World.”
Bob’s life is the perfect example of the artist in the real world. He was both hero and artist, forging, fighting, creating, and inspiring.
As I type, I can hear him saying, “Well isn’t that dandy?”
Thank you, Bob.
It takes a lot to reduce me to tears this early in the morning but you managed to do it Callie. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. Rest in peace Bob!
Ms. Doyle said it best. Ditto. Thank you for sharing Bob’s story.
ALSO in tears, Mary. LOVE THIS MAN and I’d bet he had more friends that he ever knew he had. I REPEAT. Thanks Callie Rest in Peace, Bob!!
Fantastic post, Callie. Great job. Not only a fitting tribute to your friend and mentor, but also words that ring 100% true—told with the perception of a psychologist. Your piece left me wishing I had worked for him. Here’s to Bob.
People like Bob Danzig make the world worth fighting for. Touching and beautiful. Thank you. Callie. RIP Mr. Danzig.
Beautiful article Callie, Bob sounds like he was a wonderful man. Thank you so much for sharing this, it will make my day that much brighter. It will inspire me to be a better person as well. Thank you Bob for you did sir, may you rest in peace.
I worked for Hearst Broadcasting years ago and had the pleasure of meeting Bob a few times. His intellect and compassion were evident even to those who only knew his peripherally. I know he will be missed by all who were fortunate to know him.
Thank you for this Callie. Wonderful to now know about Bob. I too am a foster child. My father was killed in an accident when I was 6 then my sister and I were left with a mentally ill mother who, when she would have breakdowns, would end up in the hospital and my sister and I would be in foster homes in south central LA. Stories like this keep me going and ground me in who I really am. I would love to learn more so I will get to know Bob better through his history. My Dad’s name was Bob too.
Lovely post, lovingly written, leaving the reader with something solid to think about. Thank you.
I am sobbing at this.
Callie, a beautiful tribute to a generous soul. A life of giving begets great gratitude (and happiness, I suspect).
What I was thinking, good sir (hola, Tom!)
I am struck by the disconnect between quality of upbringing and quality of adulthood. Some have every benefit and seem not to know how to give; others start from nothing and become Something. Yet it happens often enough that perhaps the correlation even suggests causation (or maybe it’s just perception.)
But enough overanalysis: life is enriched when we choose the right people to share it with.
Wow, that was something, Callie. Thank you for sharing this. Some of the enormous amounts of grace he inspired in others resides in you, and I believe he would be proud. You have done us all a world of good.
Brava, Callie. These types of pieces are exceptionally tough to write, even more so to write well. You made it look easy, and masterfully so. That be Bob that’s smiling right now, over your shoulder. Well done.
Am I the only person with a brand-new perspective on my own challenges — and a renewed determination to transcend them in a way that might inspire someone else?
Carrie – This is an exceptional piece. Thank you!
Does opportunity ever knock, or do people like lovely Bob just know how to open doors, even despite having so many doors close on him early in life. Beautiful reflection, thank you. The power of empathy, kindness and authenticity is lasting, and significant.
AWESOME story, riveting.
Thank you, Callie, for telling a story that was inspiring and heartwarming. It was spot on.
It is so easy to use our early life experiences for obstructions rather than fuel for our hero’s journey. I’m in the process of writing and illustrating book #2 which is a huge stretch for me vulnerability wise. I realized reading this post how I was using my past to not do the work in the present in this month I carved out for writing.
I teared up reading your beautiful tribute and will use it for fuel to keep doing the work. Thank you for sharing Bob’s story, you did a wonderful job of it!
Thank you Callie. Bob Danzig sounds like an extraordinary human being. Bob’s life was replete with adversity yet it seems his response to those considerable obstacles was embracing them and yes recognizing opportunity, not only for himself, but also the opportunity to offer kindness, patience, caring, support and curiosity to those whom he met and worked with in his courageous, creative and heroic eighty five years on this planet. In short, he was fully present for all life had to offer. Wish I had known him. Thoroughly appreciate you giving us a glimpse into his rare attributes.
What a beautiful account of someone I don’t know, but somehow feel I should have.
On of your best, Callie. You’ve given to us a bit of the gift that he gave to you.