In Memory

Steve Danzig



 
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06/20/15 11:04 PM #1    

Chip (Alban) Weber

Died 4th of July 2008.  What a great guy in high school.  Good friend; very smart and sociable. I don't know the circumstances.


07/10/15 08:48 AM #2    

Michael Fischl

Steve was one of a surprisingly large contingent from the Class of '70 to go to Indiana University in Bloomington, and he remained in Bloomington after graduating and was a well-known and formidable community activist who never lost his subversive edge and sense of humor.  Here's a memorial to him that was published in the Bloomington Herald Tribune shortly after his death.  

Commentary
Danzig remembered as fun and effective

H-T Columnist | mleonard@heraldt.com
July 10, 2008
Steve Danzig
In the mid-to-late 1970s, campus and community members looked forward to these parodies of the Indiana Daily Student and the Daily Herald-Telephone (now The Herald-Times). Courtesy photo

No one who knew Steve Danzig can talk about him without telling stories about his energy and humor.

Dave Rust recalls the hilarity behind the Danzig-led April Fool’s Day parodies of the two local daily newspapers, dubbed the Indiana Daily Stupid and The Horrible-Terrible (a play on the Indiana Daily Student and this paper’s name at the time, the Daily Herald-Telephone). A Briscoe Quad resident back then, Rust recalls students frantically calling home after seeing the cover story of the student publication about Assembly Hall exploding. Then they looked out their windows, saw the basketball arena intact and realized the newspaper said “Indiana Daily Stupid.” It was a magnificently executed April Fool’s joke.

Leon Varjian remembers starting his own parody of Danzig’s early, mid-’70s computer dating service and then seeing, to his own discomfort, Danzig approach him at the Indiana Memorial Union. But “he thought it was the funniest thing in the world,” Varjian said this week. “I remember at the time thinking it was very decent of him. He was very comfortable poking fun at himself. Many times that is not the case.”

Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan recalls the time in the late 1970s or early ’80s when Danzig announced their goal for the summer would be to eat their way through Bloomington’s restaurants alphabetically. “I think we made it to (the defunct) Groves Diner before the project fell apart,” Kruzan said.

“Steve was the kind of guy who would go to the grocery and get 50 gallons of ice cream and 50 gallons of root beer and have a spontaneous root beer float party,” Tom Hirons recalls.

Dick McKaig served up root beer floats for a group of people last Saturday night, the day after Danzig died from prostate cancer at age 55. Friends and relatives had come to town hoping for a last visit with the beloved businessman, activist and former Indiana University student body president. Most didn’t get the opportunity. After 9/1—2 years of battling cancer, Danzig went down fast after deciding to forgo further treatment.

McKaig, the dean of students at IU, kept up a close relationship with Danzig from the time he was a newly arrived young administrator, and Danzig a force to be reckoned with as a student activist. “There were times I thought, ‘What have I gotten myself into?’” McKaig recalled with a laugh.

Everyone who knew Danzig well was quick to point out this week that behind the humor was one committed, socially conscious, prince of a human being. “In every aspect, I was amazed that someone so young saw that we needed to do more on campus to support and advance the interests of students,” said former Bloomington city councilman Jeff Richardson, who preceded Danzig as IU student body president. “He knew how to get people’s attention, and that’s half the battle. He also was one of those guys who was just tireless. I remember working from early morning to late at night sometimes and the rest of us would be dragging, except Steve. He was just go, go, go, all the time.”

The list of initiatives Danzig led, or helped lead, is extraordinary. It includes student voter registration, faculty course evaluations, helping start Student Legal Services, tenant rights advocacy, getting student representation on the IU board of trustees and faculty council.

“What became clear to me, when I served as student body president in 1983, was how much we owed to Steve Danzig and those past student leaders of the late ’60s and early ’70s. We saw them as legends,” said Kirk White, director of community relations at IU. “You have to remember, this was the early ’80s and many of us were Reaganites. The politics a dozen years before us was decidedly different. The pendulum was swinging to the right, but Steve always maintained an interest in what we were doing, and he was always willing to offer advice if asked.

“We had similar goals, just different means to an end,” White said.

By White’s term in office, Danzig was a community activist who was best-known for his creative screen-printing business. Whatever the issue, at IU, in Bloomington, or in the country, Danzig was famous for coming out with “message T-shirts” that poked fun or capitalized on current events.

He was among the first to see the gold mine in championship T-shirts and would send crews to, say, the NCAA championships with shirts ready to sell to whichever school won. He frequently clashed with IU officials over the use of “Indiana” and “IU” references, arguing for free speech against IU’s claims of copyright infringement.

By the time he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in late 1999, his Image Boxers company was printing specialized boxer shorts and shirts for an impressive list of companies and agencies including FedEx, HBO and the FBI. In the spring of 2000, he explained that he’d ignored a nagging pain in his hip, thinking that it was the arthritis that ran in his family. By the time he took a PSA (prostate specific antigen) test, he said, his score was 150, when the normal range is 1-4. “If I had gotten a PSA at age 40, I’m quite confident my life expectancy would be as good as anybody’s,” he said at the time.

The doctors who would comment gave him 3-5 years to live. “Some just shook their heads,” recalled his wife, Connie Stewart. “They wouldn’t even offer a prognosis.”

Danzig attacked his cancer problem like everything else he’d done in his life — aggressively and with humor. “Because of his business, we were able to travel a lot and when we did, we’d find the best doctors in prostate cancer research and treatment,” Connie said. “We worked three different prostate cancer conferences, doing registration, stuffing the bags they hand out, whatever. And we’d talk to doctors and get the latest. We were always on the cutting edge.”

Connie said her husband never let his medical problems get him down. “He was always so full of life, even toward the end,” she said. “He was always positive. Always joking around. The people over at IMA (Internal Medicine Associates) loved him. It was really hard on them when he decided he wasn’t going to do any more treatment. It was just at the point where he knew he was down to a couple of months and he didn’t think it was worth it.”

“The hospice people (at Bloomington Hospital) were great. They made it possible for him to die at home, which is what he wanted to do,” Connie said. “He died a peaceful death.

“After he died, several people told me that he wanted to hold out for our anniversary, which he did. He died on July 4, 16 years to the day after we were married,” she said. “His next goal was to have a party on the 10th anniversary of his cancer diagnosis. He squeezed out 9/1—2 years, when the doctors said five, tops. He lived a full life.”

 


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