Tribute to Dan Frank

Dan Frank, a towering figure in the publishing world, lived on Terrace Drive in Hastings from 1991 to 2012.

During those years he was a generous, buoyant steward of this Library, to which he brought an infectious passion for books and knowledge.

Dan died of cancer on May 24th in New York City. He was 67.

Dan Frank

Trustee of Hastings Public Library
October 1992 – June 2012

I am very honored that the Library Board of Trustees, and the Friends of the Library, asked me to write a tribute in memory of Dan Frank, my most patient boss, my friend, my book buddy.

Dan and his wife, Patty, moved to Hastings in the early 1990s with their sons Jasper and Lucas, soon to be joined by a third, Cole. Then-Mayor MacEachron quickly nabbed Dan, a book editor and new kid in town, to join the Library Board of Trustees. From his first board meeting, October 1992, until his final one, June 2012, Dan served as trustee at large, and then treasurer and president, often trading these positions back and forth with fellow trustee Thom Forbes.

I think Dan preferred being the power behind the throne to occupying the throne itself, but that did not deter him from accepting the responsibility for leading the Library’s major renovation in 2001-2002. The Village bonded the monies for construction, but Dan led the New Hastings Fund, overseeing fundraising for furniture, equipment, carpeting and Library (aka Fulton) Park.

Before his departure in 2012, to return to NYC to domicile, Dan was an inspiration and guiding force behind the 2014 expansion of the Orr Room and construction of the outside deck.

All the years we knew Dan he served as editorial director of Pantheon Books, a division of first Knopf and now Penguin Random House. He cultivated prizewinners and took risks with obscure authors, offering readers an eclectic list of titles. In 1994, one of “his” books, How We Die, by Sherwin B. Nuland, won the National Book Award. In the acknowledgements, Nuland writes, “The manuscript that ultimately resulted was passed through the filter of Dan’s skillful editorial mind; only his authors can fully appreciate the value of such guidance.”

Little known is that Dan also oversaw Schocken Books, a press dedicated to books of Jewish thought, history and biographies.

The measure of a man is (hopefully) more than his professional achievements. Dan was a family man and loved to chitchat about the interests of Patty and his boys. His affection extended beyond family to friends, and I was grateful to find myself among them. Dan loved to swim, whether in his cherished Saranac Lake or any local pool he could join, and enjoyed walks with his dogs, Atticus and Stella, as much as they did. Dan attended many concerts, especially when Mahler was on the program, and shared with many of us the pleasures of a glass of wine.

But ultimately, Dan should be remembered as a reader and a man of ideas. He was educated in the liberal arts, which helped him to explore the nuances and interplay of science, philosophy, literature, music and art. The long list of books he edited reflected his wide-ranging curiosity and tastes. Each holiday season he would pick out books to gift to associates and friends. Those volumes often arrived in the mail, wrapped in brown paper with the label hand addressed. Better yet, was when he personally delivered them, and one could savor his infectious smile.

May his memory be a blessing.

– Sue Feir, Hastings-on-Hudson Public Library director, 1993-2016