Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. FFRF.org

In memoriam: Gary Dann empowered others

Vol. 38 No. 06 August 2021
Gary L. Dann                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Gary L. Dann, atheist and father of FFRF’s Director of Governmental Affairs Mark Dann, died on May 13, 2021, after a high-risk surgical procedure.

“People can have a sense of humor, be an atheist or an iconoclast,” said Mark during the eulogy at the funeral. “Gary Dann was all of those things, and he did them well with aplomb. He always brought along people for the ride in life and people always wanted to join him. He never isolated. He always included.” 

Formerly of Shaker Heights, Ohio, Gary was married to his wife Carol for 52 years. He was a graduate of The Ohio State University, where he was a member of Phi Sigma Delta. 

He was also in the Army Reserves while working as a successful insurance and financial planner, and later founded Concorde Financial. He was a season ticket holder of the Philadelphia Eagles and previously of the Cleveland Browns. 

Gary, a member of FFRF, was an avid tennis player who studied Spanish, visited Civil War sites, collected and sent innumerable email jokes, and sun-worshipped on the beach. As an active tutor and volunteer with Hopeworks Camden and the Interfaith Homeless Outreach Council (IHOC), he enjoyed seeing others become independent and live their lives on their own terms.

“One of Dad’s many gifts was empowering others with dignity so they can be themselves and stand up to others who weren’t going to let that happen,” Mark said during the eulogy. “His wisdom, steadfastness, and kindness were unmatched, and we all felt it.

 “Later in life, as a devout atheist, he would substitute ‘God’ or ‘the Lord’ with ‘Casper the Friendly Ghost’ in his head. It wasn’t: ‘Praised are you, the eternal one, our God, ruler of the cosmos.’ It was: “Praised are you, Casper the Friendly Ghost, ruler of the cartoons.’” 

He will be greatly missed by his numerous friends, family and loved ones.