Daniel Walden
Daniel Walden August 1, 1922 November 8, 2013 Daniel Walden, PhD, Professor Emeritus of American Studies, English, and Comparative Literature at Penn State University, died Friday, November 8, 2013, at Mount Nittany Medical Center at age 91, surrounded by the love of his children, grandchildren and countless friends, colleagues and students. Though officially retired from Penn State in 1988, Dan continued to teach one course each semester, alternating between the departments of English and Comparative Literature, including the last course he taught on ethnicity and literature the first two weeks of fall semester 2013 before illness prevented him from continuing. Born Daniel Weinroth in the Logan section of Philadelphia, Dan lived in a first floor apartment in North Philadelphia, and later, Northeast Philadelphia, with his mother, Reba, father Benjamin and brother Morton, all of whom pre-deceased him. His parents later divorced and many years later, Dan was introduced to his father's second family and had the joy of meeting his half-siblings Marianne and Richard. Marianne and her husband Gary Selbst became a regular part of Dan's family celebrations in his later years, who, along with Richard, visited with him during these difficult past months. He grew up in what he described as a semi-religious home, attending a conservative synagogue, Adath Jeshurun. To quote Dan from his 1974 book, The Experience of Being Jewish, "the experience of being Jewish, of living the warmness of community, of being a part of an organic, progressive community that has existed proudly and contributed mightily for thousands of years - this might be enough." But for Dan, it was not enough, but rather a starting place to extend that spirit of warmth, community and progressiveness to everyone who crossed his path. Dan began studying voice in Philadelphia during his high school days, graduating from Northeast High School in Philadelphia in 1940. He volunteered in 1942 for the Army Reserves. He was activated in 1943 and opted to learn radar repair, training in Florida and later, Wem, in the northern part of England. He prepared for the invasion and crossed the Channel two weeks later, serving in France, Germany, Holland, the Netherlands, and Belgium. Dan served 20 months in the combat zone. He counts the Army as his first career, cementing his life-long commitment to fairness and justice. Upon returning to the States, it was his love of singing and the theatre that called him. During his tour in Europe, he sang solos in several churches in Chester, England. When he returned from the war, he moved to NY and studied voice and theater and movement, performing summer stock in New Hampshire, doing ten plays and musicals in ten weeks. Daniel Weinroth found Jewish singers were not a desirable commodity in the theatre after WWII, and with his brother Morton's suggestion, changed his name to Daniel Walden. In 1949, he landed a role in the chorus of Annie Get Your Gun with Mary Martin. Later, he played 28 shows a week at the Roxy Theatre with stars like Danny Kaye and Cab Calloway and at the Versailles Club as a back-up singer for Edith Piaf. He worked in the company of Jean Arthur and Boris Karloff in Peter Pan on Broadway and singer Teresa Brewer at the Sawdust Club. One of his great joys came in 1955 when he moved to Paris and got to sing American standards at Le Boef Sur Le Toit. Despite a promising career in theatre, his experiences with anti-Semitism, WWII, the Cold War and McCarthyism led Dan to strive for meaning and service beyond entertainment. Daniel returned to New York and became a casework assistant at the Traveler's Aid Society in Times Square and with the help of the GI Bill, began attending City College of New York. A spark was lit, and his dedication to his academic life and human services became primary over the theatre. It was in 1956, during this time of transition, that Dan met the love of his life, Beatrice Schulman, at a party in Greenwich Village. Set up by a friend, it was an instant match. They married on October 12, 1957, and enjoyed 54 years of marriage before Bea's death in November 2011. Dan pursued the life of a scholar with a vengeance and work ethic that defined his entire career. Bea's love and support allowed their house to be transformed into a home for countless students who have gone on to become scholars and citizens of great achievement. Dan obtained his MA at Columbia in 1961 and welcomed son Moss in 1962. He continued through his PhD from New York University in 1964, the same year he had the joy of daughter Ruth being born. It was at this time Dan developed a profound interest in the African-American experience. His first scholarly article was "The Contemporary Opposition to the Political and Educational Ideas of Booker T. Washington" in the Journal of Negro History in 1960. (Source: "Daniel Walden: A Pioneer in the Study of American Urban and Ethnic Culture", Robert C. Doyle.) In 1963, Daniel was hired at Michigan State University in its Department of American Thought and Language. He proudly marched on Washington that year to further the cause of equality and civil rights and cherished meeting Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1966, he and Bea accepted an opportunity offered by Penn State to teach simultaneously at the Capitol and University Park Campuses. In 1968, the family moved to State College when Dan assumed a full-time role in the Department of English at main campus. His On Being Black: African American Literature from Douglass to the Present (1970), with Charles Davis, was a pioneering book. On Being Jewish: Jewish American Literature from Cahan to Bellow (1974) was a pioneering book in the field of Jewish Studies. He founded the journal Studies in American Jewish Literature (SAJL) in 1975 and served continuously as its editor from then into 2011. SAJL was his second great love after Bea and he nurtured it and valued the friendships he made with the colleagues that contributed and now sustain it. He has published more than 90 journal articles in peer reviewed journals. In 1984 Dan published "The World of Chaim Potok," a whole issue of SAJL. In 1985 Dan published Twentieth Century American Jewish Fiction Writers (Greenwood Press). Conversations with Chaim Potok came out in 2002 (University Press of Mississippi) and at the age of 91, his final work was released, Chaim Potok: Confronting Modernity Through the Lens of Tradition (Penn State Press). Professor Walden was Director of American Studies for ten years and was the first to teach African American literature at Penn State in 1968, the first in the nation. This led to the founding of the Department of African American Studies. He followed suit in 1972 teaching the first Jewish American literature and founded the Jewish Studies Program. Dan and Bea were among the earliest families to establish Congregation Brit Shalom, where he later served as President and was active until his passing. Along with Dan's rich careers, his generosity of spirit, service and mentoring, it is his commitment to family and unconditional love that is his greatest legacy to us. In 1980, Dan and Bea welcome nieces Aileen and Beth to their home and loved them as their daughters. Through the years, Dan and Bea provided the same safe harbor to family members, graduate students, and international scholars. His feeling was a full home is a happy home and family is the most important thing. He embodied his love and loyalty in the ten years he cared tirelessly for Bea until her death in 2011. At Dan's passing, he leaves behind son Moss (Lisa) Walden of Maple Glen, daughter Ruth (Dan) Walden-Turek of Lansdale, nieces Aileen (Kirk) Galley of State College, and Beth McGonagle of Dresher. He was beloved Poppy to Jordan and Yale Walden, David (Jaimi) Williams, Robin (Pat) Woodring, Deanna Walden-Turek, Max and Emma Galley, James and Ian McGonagle, Danielle (Chris) Deck and Jill and Jordan Turek. He was proud to say he had seven great-grand-children, Kaylee, Davin, Connor, Mason, Owen, Hayden and Ethan. Our family wishes to thank Dan's amazing medical team, including John Coppes, MD, Albert Zoda, MD, Nilesh Patel, MD, Charles Maxin, MD and the outstanding nurses at Mount Nittany Medical Center, and The Fairways and the Inn at Brookline Village. A memorial service will be held on Monday, November 11, 2013, 1 p.m. at Congregation Brit Shalom, followed by internment at Centre County Memorial Park. The family will sit Shiva at niece Aileen Galley's home at 6 p.m. on the same date. For those wishing to honor Dan's memory, please consider a donation to the Rabbi's Discretionary Fund, Congregation Brit Shalom, 620 East Hamilton Avenue, State College, PA 16801 or The Penn State Jewish Studies Program, 103 Weaver Building, University Park, PA 16802. Arrangements are under the care of Koch Funeral Home, State College. Online condolences and signing of the guest book may be entered at www.kochfuneralhome.com.

Published by Centre Daily Times on Nov. 10, 2013.
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45 Entries
Dear Dan and Bea,

It is hard to believe how time has passed so quickly since I left Penn State more than 30 years ago. Nonetheless, both of you are on my mind, always. Both of you are always on my mind. Fondly, Reiner
Reiner Smolinski
Student
November 3, 2019
In Memories of Dan and Bea;

It was August 1997 when I first met Dan at the Pennsylvania State University. From that time, I visited him as a visiting scholar, and as my tutor, for one year he had advised me his academic advises on Bernard Malamud, a Jewish-American writer.

On 1997 Thanksgiving Day, Dan and Bea and their son Ruth extended a dinner invitation to me and my two kids, 11-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter, and another invitation to my family including my wife who made a short visit during the Christmas holidays from South Korea. At those times, Dan and Bea received my family warmly with turkey, tea and cakes; after dinner, we took some memorial photographes together in their living room. Once more, I'd like to be most grateful for their warm hospitability at those times. In early August 1998, as a last reception with them, I offered my hospitability to them at a restaurant. It was enough to make a warm parents impression on me as well as generous grandparents on my two kids.

During my stay at the university, he offered me a desk and a chair in his office, Willard Building 107. Every working day, I dropped by his office and researched my study, with the help of arranging his editorial papers on Studies in Jewish American Literature and other letters. Also I attended his lectures for two semesters with his permission. At his classes, everytime he sincerely and passionately gave lectures on Jewish literature, especially, including Holocaust, putting some questions to the students attending his classes, being questioned, answering the questions, sometimes in real earnest, sometimes with a big smile. His lectures made a deep impression on the audience including me.

During the winter breaking, as my expressing gratitude for his advices, after I put his books on the several bookstands in order in his office, I took a computer socket out, for the purpose of clean the dust on the computer and the key board including computer desk. As the result, his computer was dead. Later, founding out the pitiful situation, he asked a university programmer for resetting his computer-control system and data processing system. Instead of getting angry with me, he was very glad about the books ordering with a broad smile to me.

Under his sincere guidance for one year, I finished my research in August 1998 and I returned home with my two kids,

During our lives, I think all of us have been too busy to find time for breath. From my returning home on, I and my two kids missed them and I'd have hoped to revisit and meet them again, unfortunately I haven't had any chances to visit and meet them. Instead, I had sometimes corresponded e-mails with Dan for over decade, and I still remember one of them. Some years ago, as usual, I wrote an e-mail with my worrying about his health and Bea's health at the hospital.
In his last e-mail with me, with a deep sigh and getting on his pitiable nerves and feeling pity for Bea's health getting worse, he added in the end of the e-mail: 'Still, life goes on.' That was the last e-mail between him and me. As he mentioned, I still believe their lives still have gone on there, and I pray their happy lives there forever, pledging to meet again!
I will never forget to remember their warmth and kindness and hospitability!

Ph. D., Il-Ku Kim.(Republic of Korea)
Il-Ku Kim
December 7, 2014
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December 5, 2014
Dear Walden Family,

I hadn't heard from Dan in awhile, so I made some inquiries and I was so saddened to hear of his passing. Dan was a good teacher, a good friend, and a great man. He was that rare person who is kind, compassionate, and truly ethical. He and Bea opened their home and their hearts to me when I was a poor graduate student far from home, and I will never forget them.

Their influence was deep and profound, and they will always have my love, gratitude, and admiration. Baruch dayan emet.
Melanie Levinson Borrego
June 12, 2014
Aileen and all of Dan's family, I am so saddened that we lost such a great man in Dan. And forever thankful to have known and been inspired by him.
Robert Snyder
November 26, 2013
Dear Walden Family,

On behalf of my sister, Karen, and my recently departed father, Wilbur, who was a friend of your parents, I extend my sincerest condolences to you on the death of a truly wonderful man. I remember as a girl spending time at your house with my parents and being regaled with incredible stories. . . . May the words of all whose lives he touched so deeply and your memories give you comfort in what I know is a difficult time.
Hollis Zelinsky
November 20, 2013
Dan and I became friends at Silver Sneakers. I was impressed with his spirit and enthusiasm and how quickly we became friends. In June, he accompanied me to the JCC on the anniversary of my brother's death, something i greatly appreciated. I will miss him very much and send my sincerest condolences to his family.
Susan Kennedy
November 18, 2013
Dan and Bea--two good friends that will be, most assuredly, sorely missed.

Will & Barbara Crocken
November 13, 2013
To know the Waldens was to love and respect them. Our families once shared a Mezuzah, an experience that has a profound effect on me to this day.
Jim Raytek
November 12, 2013

Deepest condolences to all the Waldens and extended family.
(Dan: I will miss sharing our enthusiasm for Benny Goodman.)
Bryce Jordan
November 11, 2013
I don't remember exactly when I met you in Burrowes, but I will forever remember the time you took to talk with me and encourage me as I toiled through my dissertation, even though I wasn't your student. Professor Walden, your life was a model for what I hope mine to be: one of curiosity, generosity, and love. Thank you.
Michelle Decker
November 11, 2013
I had the privilege to count Dan Walden among my mentors and friends. What an amazing life. He achieved so incredibly much but managed to remain one of the most generous and sweet human beings I've ever met in my life. This is a truly sad loss. In my heart there will always a special place for Dan and Bea, his adorable wife. The only consolation I have at this point is the knowledge that these two beautiful persons, Dan and Bea, were indeed part of my life and that I had the opportunity to celebrate Dan's 91 birthday with him. May both Dan and Bea rest in peace.
Luz Angelica Kirschner
November 11, 2013
Thank you for your service to our country!
November 11, 2013
Dr. Walden was one of the most considerate, intelligent professors I have ever had at Penn State University. Not only did I learn a lot in his class, but I learned a lot about his life and how fantastic it really was. Dr. Walden lived; I mean really lived and taught me many life lessons throughout the course. Dr. Walden will be missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.
Lexie Johnson
November 11, 2013
Dan Walden was my friend, mentor, and model for what I have done in my life. His faith and notion of service to everyone moved me to emulate him every day. I loved both Bea and Dan to a degree I can hardly describe. May they both rest in peace in the loving hands of God.
Bob and Beate Doyle
November 11, 2013
Dr. Walden is the best professor I've met at Penn State and he is so nice to everyone and remember all the students' name in class. I really thank him for leading me to engage myself in literature. We love him.
Jingtong Feng
November 10, 2013
I most often ran into Dan Walden on campus, although he was also our neighbor up the street. He always had time for a wonderful little chat, and I always felt such a sense of joy afterward. I feel blessed that I knew him. He was a good and kind man, and his smile lit up the whole world.

My deepest sympathies to the family.
Cynthia Spencer
November 10, 2013
Ruth, Moss, A and B, and kids, I'm so sorry to hear about Dan's passing. When I was young and on my own for the first time your home was where I went for family (and a good meal!). So many good conversations and lots of laughter happened around that kitchen table. I am blessed to have known Dan Walden. I love you all.
Jeri Lynn Young
November 10, 2013
Dr. Walden mentored me through my Master's thesis and provided invaluable help as my advisor. His kindness in taking me under his wing exemplifies the kind of teacher he was and who I continue to emulate. Penn State and the State College community lost a great person. My deepest condolences to his family.
Judy Dombrowski
November 10, 2013
Dan was such a kind man, always had a smile. I enjoyed knowing him and Bea; he will be missed.
November 10, 2013
I knew Dan Walden when I was a graduate student at PSU from 1974 to 1980. After that for several years I would meet him at the American Literature Association Conferences. Dan embodied a relative rarity: the kind academic.
Zabelle Stodola (nee Derounian)
November 10, 2013
We only had the pleasure of knowing Dan for a very short amount of time. He was one of the warmest and most sincere human beings we have ever met. He was a wonderful mentor for our daughter, Laura, and we will never forget the many kindnesses he showed her.
Colleen and Joe Dzwonczyk
November 10, 2013
We always held Dan and Bea in the highest esteem and affection. The world is a better place for their having been part of it. Our sympathy to the Walden family.
Jeanne and Richard Porter
November 10, 2013
"Too little and too lately known." I knew Dan Walden for only six or seven years, but even at an advanced stage of his life, he was full of civility and intellectual probity, alive to the lessons of history and the possibilities of the future. Would we see his like again! - Greg Clingham, State College, Pennsylvania
November 10, 2013
My deepest condolences to the family. I recall Aileen talking so fondly of her Aunt Bea who was such a treasure in her life. And to read this incredible life story of Daniel. What a remarkable couple...lives well lived!
Ann Probst
November 10, 2013
I last saw Dan at MLA in 2009 in Philadelphia. He was giving a paper about Chaim Potok's writing-- a moving and resilient presentation, as ever. Dan was Steve's dissertation director and a member of my dissertation committee-- and a generous mentor to us both. May his memory be a blessing.
Susan Bernstein & Steve Cormany
November 10, 2013
To Dan and Bea,
You will always be with me in thought and spirit.
Reiner Smolinski
November 10, 2013
Dan and Bea--I miss both of you very much. Whenever I think of my time in State College, both you and Bea come to my mind as a loving couple who provided a home away from home for many foreign students (including myself). Thank you for your love and kindness. You will always be with me in my thoughts and heart.
Reiner Smolinski
November 10, 2013
I cherished Dan as a colleague and a friend. Seeing him on campus or around town never failed to brighten my day, as he was never too busy to chat – about teaching, about literature, about all things Jewish. But mostly, he served as an inspiration to us on how to lead a good life. He embodied what it means to be a Mensch. When we needed someone to officiate at our wedding, we could think of no one better suited than Dan. He did more than merely say the words, he offered advice on conducting the ceremony and brought vigor to the chuppah. We are forever grateful that he chose to leave Bea's bedside for a few hours to traipse off into the middle of the woods to marry us. Dan will remain forever in our hearts. Please accept our sincerest condolences.
Paul & Bailey Kellermann
November 10, 2013
A kind and inspiring and wonderful man. Our hearts go out to Aileen and Beth and all of his family.
Merrill David
November 10, 2013
Our first benefactor and staunchest friend. Thank you Dan, for your life. Jay and Mary
Jay Shuchter
November 10, 2013
Dan was such a wonderful colleague to me at Penn State. I was astounded when Bea, with a twinkle in her eye, first told me of Dan's radio and stage career. How thrilling to have a colleague as capable as Dan. Most Americanists remember him as the founder of African American literary studies and Jewish studies at Penn State, along with the founding of the program in American Studies here at University Park. Few know of his other lives. His scholarly career was exemplary. Most important, though, to me, is that Dan always had a strong, warm, sincere handshake. We miss him.
Carla Mulford
November 10, 2013
A true mensch. Dan was generous with his time for all. He helped me several times in my career and I'm sure I'm just of thousands who could say the same thing.
R Thomas Berner
November 10, 2013
To Dan's family and friends--
He was a wonderful man, though I only knew him for a few years. He used to chastize me when I was pregnant for not wearing a coat and he told great stories, when plied, about his time on Broadway. Just a lovely man with a big smile and a pleasant greeting. I really enjoyed having him in the department and in the world. I hope that your memories bring you peace and comfort.
Camille-Yvette Welsch
November 9, 2013
To the entire Walden family:

Dan was beloved and respected by so many people at the university and throughout the community. Everyone will miss his kindness, humor, intellect, and joyful spirit. What an accomplished life. An honor to have known him.
Vicki Fong
November 9, 2013
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