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In memoriam: Early FFRF backer Daniel H. Eis dies

Daniel Eis
Daniel shows off FFRF’s solstice sign in the Wisconsin Capitol building during the holiday season many years ago.

One of the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s very first supporters and members, Daniel Hugo Eis, after living a very full life for 91 years, died on Jan. 22, 2021, in Manitowoc, Wis. Two of his children, Peggy and David Eis, recently hand-delivered a $500 bequest that “their father, who art not in heaven,” as they put it, had so kindly put aside for FFRF.

Daniel was born on April 21, 1929, in Two Rivers, Wis., to the late Oscar and Evelyn (Hoffman) Eis. Dan grew up on the family farm and attended Crystal Springs Grade School, but dropped out in the eighth grade due to a poor fit between his inquiring free spirit and the local parochial school’s classroom rules. Despite his lack of formal education (with the exception of earning his GED years later), Dan was a lifelong learner and his college-educated friends nicknamed him the armchair philosopher (others knew him as Dynamite Dan). 

Dan served his country at the close of World War II in the Army Corps of Engineers and was stationed at Fort Worden, Wash. Dan married Carol Demler in 1955. He did an amazing job raising four children, single-handedly, during their teenage years. 

Despite his Catholic upbringing, he was a lifelong atheist, having reasoned out his philosophy on God and religion at the age of 18. Dan was actively involved in American Atheists, American Humanist Association, and he was proud to be one of the first to donate to Anne Gaylor’s Freedom From Religion Foundation. He also founded and ran his own local group, Freethought Forum, that hosted a variety of speakers. 

Dan was kind and generous with his time, always willing to help out his kids and grandkids with various home, moving and school projects. His sense of humor was limitless.  Dan was a prankster with a need for speed. He regaled his grandkids with stories about his numerous daredevil feats. He was known to do crazy stuff while riding his Harley and he drove stock cars, starting in 1948. Several minor and serious car accidents followed for Dan over the years, and, given his many close brushes with death, he was said to have nine lives (which maybe explains Dan’s affinity for cats, apparently his spirit animal). 

Dan’s vocations over the years included cross-country truck driving, carpenter/craftsman, engineering and house moving with his brother Marvin, when they founded Eis Structure Movers, and later managed the Gas Hut up to his retirement. 

People were drawn to Dan’s open-minded and positive attitude. Dan was the epitome of a free soul. In the words of fellow freethinker, Frank Sinatra, Dan was proud to say, “I did it my way.” In his own words that were his lifelong philosophy, “If it’s gonna be a problem, I’m outta here,” and so he is.