Beloved CSUN custodian remembered

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Courtesy of CSUN

Daniel MacDonald, 61, a lead custodian at CSUN died Thursday, April 29 on campus.

MacDonald, a Reseda resident, was born on March 30, 1949 in Hollywood, Calif. He is survived by his daughter, Jennifer Bolo, son, Jeremy MacDonald and sister, Cheryl Wolff.

MacDonald, also known as “The Big Blue Teddy Bear,” attended Reseda High School and L.A. Valley College. Memorial services are pending and funeral arrangement information will be released in a couple of weeks.

MacDonald was known for his deep love of two things: one was his love of family, and the other was his genuine interest in other people.

Maro Parian, costume shop supervisor from the theater department, said MacDonald was more than a cleaning person for the costume shop rooms.

“I don’t call it cleaning the area because he really took care of it,” Parian said. “He felt a special attachment, because his mother was a seamstress and she hand-made dresses for people as Mae West and Carmen Miranda. He often would reminisce of his childhood and both of his parents working for the film industry. He often talked with pride about his son, missed his daughter and wished that his sister lived closer.”

Dr. John D. Swain, assistant professor in the theater department, said MacDonald was always asking about what others were interested in.

“He would come by my office and see all my books on Japan and express his admiration of that,” Swain said. “Because of my interest in Japan he would talk about his dad. Dan’s father was in the Army in WWII and was stationed in Japan immediately at the end of the war. He took many snapshots, and gathered quite a few postcards of postwar Japan. One day Dan offered to give me all those pictures, asking that I evaluate their historical/cultural importance and make sure any that were of value be placed in an appropriate archive. It was his way of showing his love for his father, as well as connecting with my interests. He loved people.”

Theater department Administrative Assistant Audrey Gold said MacDonald’s untimely death is not only a great loss to the theatre department but the university as well.

“He was a man with integrity above reproach and keenly developed and practiced work ethics,” Gold said. “Any money, paper or coins he would find in Nordhoff Hall he would bring to the theatre office, which when unclaimed would be returned to him. After all, who identifies money with their name?

Nordhoff Hall was his home, he proudly told all who would listen and all of us did. He rarely missed a theatre production and took pride in making certain all spaces were clean and student-ready. Dan was always ready to give positive, always positive critiques, on the student productions. He was so proud of the students and never hesitated to tell them. He will be very missed by all who were fortunate enough to have met him.”

Rachel Valiensi, theatre department financial manager, said MacDonald knew almost every student, staff and faculty members in the theatre department by name. She added that MacDonald came and saw just about every show the theatre department produced.

“He cared deeply for the faculty, staff and students that he knew within this university, primarily our college and his coworkers from PPM and was concerned for their well-being,” Valiensi said. “There wasn’t a day that went by, when we were both here, that we didn’t say at least good morning. He is missed. We started getting phone calls asking about his memorial service from former students just a few hours after he passed.”

Tom Brown, executive director and facilities management for PPM, said MacDonald began working at CSUN in September of 1999. He helped out in cleaning and preparing the building for classes and all other things that happen around the campus, he said. He said MacDonald’s positive attitude and genuine interest in people and the campus will truly be missed on campus, Brown said.

“Daniel was loved by everybody and he loved working for CSUN and loved to help students and always voiced his observations and opinions about how important it was to be part of this institution,” Brown said. “It was important to him to be able to help the student and you saw that in his work and interaction with people.”
“He was the most loveable and upbeat kind of guys I’ve ever met and he will be very very much missed in our family here,” Brown said. “Everyone has challenges, but when we can go through life with that kind of upbeat attitude and looking for the value in the life we have and opportunity we have, I think that’s a true testament of one’s self. And from his attitude and demeanor and outright statement of positivity is a lot for one man. I guess that if Daniel wanted to go in any way, in any place, it would have been right here, I really believe that’s a truth. He absolutely loved this place.”
Parian, who knew MacDonald for over 10 years, said with his sharp sense of humor, sarcasm and a very loud voice he made sure that everything was done and done well.
“He took pride in his work. He had more integrity and work ethics then I can say for most people these days,” Parian said. “The theatre department was his home. He even had his ‘special room,’ dressing room #9, where he hung out on his brakes. All the students knew of his space and respected that.
Professor Garry Lennon in the theater department said McDonald was a vital part of the department and it is hard to imagine it without him.
“My best Dan story has to do with our production of the musical ‘Hair’ four years ago. Dan has always been supportive of our productions and our students, he always made it a point to come to all the shows and talk about them to us,” Lennon said. “He was around when we were rehearsing so he got to know the cast really well and it was a really great group of students. He came to the show and just loved it. I think it took him back to his days in the late 60s and he just had the biggest smile on his face.”
“He greeted me at school on the following Monday and he just went on and on about the show and this moment, this song, and this actor – he really raved about,” he added. I believe he came back and brought his family and saw it again,” he said. “Ironically, I think he would have loved “Into the Woods” even more. He was such a great cheerleader to me and the department. He clearly loved working in this department. He will be sorely missed.”
Brown said we can only presume at this point that it was natural causes. “We’ve not gotten a report back from the coroner’s office and Daniel had never reported any previous health problems,” Brown said.
On April 29, 2010 at 11:54 a.m., CSUN Police Department received a call from a community member regarding an unconscious, non-responsive male in the basement level of Nordhoff Hall.  CSUN PD officers responded for a possible medical emergency.  Upon arrival, officers checked the individual found in room #9 and determined he was not responsive and had no pulse.  LAFD paramedics, who were dispatched at the same time as CSUN PD officers, arrived at the scene, checked the individual and pronounced him deceased.  The L.A. County Coroner was notified, along with LAPD.  CSUN PD proceeded to make appropriate university notifications and the Chief of Police notified next of kin.

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  • Spencer

    We called him Danny in the Music Department and he was always a joy to see. He and I would have long talks after hours while I was practicing and it was clear to me that CSUN was integral part of his life as well as his family which included the people of CSUN. He took extraordinary pride in his work and the week he passed away he cleaned the floors of the percussion storage room which had gotten very dirty over the semester. I cannot walk into that room and not feel him and his continuing presence. Danny was a lovable nut and it is really hard to imagine the world without him. The music department is truly upset with his passing.

    Thank you for everything Danny.

  • Avissa Farah Ilkhan

    I met Dan early in the morning after my Political Science class was canceled. We ate Burger King together and talked for almost an hour about everything. We were watching President Obama taking pictures next to a turkey during thanksgiving and we just kept laughing about it. He was one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. After that morning I saw him many times getting his breakfast at Burger King or walking around Nordhoff Hall. We’d talk about anything. He shared stories about how he missed his mother who died of cancer, and memories of spending time with his girlfriend enjoying a simple pepsi and bag of fritos at the park. He knew that I was looking for a job so he personally walked me over to the employment office to help me find work. Whenever I’d run into him in the hallways he’d always stop to say hi and we’d have a nice chat. He was always so funny and sweet. He called me by my middle name because he said it was easier to remember. So whenever I heard someone say “Hey Farah!” I knew it was him. I remember seeing him just a couple days before he died, but I didn’t get a chance to say hi…I had no idea it would be the last time I saw him. He might have left us physically, but he will always remain in our hearts.

    I miss you Dan!

  • Becky Lohnes Leveque

    Danny was my 1st cousin. We spent countless hours together as a family with my brothers and sisters and his, David and Cheryl. He was 9 months older than I am. His father, Sunny, was my Mom’s brother. Sunny was one of 8 brothers and sisters. We had a fun family. His mother, Barbara was beautiful. We grew up in Reseda in the 1950′s. It was a great time to grow up. He was very handsome and very personable.

    I recently returned to CSUN to complete my degree. I did not know he was working there. I deeply regret that that we didnt get the opportunity to connect.

    He will be dearly missed. My love and deepest sorrow goes to his family at this most difficult time. He was way to young to go.

    Danny, say hello to the family for me.

    Love,

    Your cousin, Becky Lohnes Leveque

  • Patricia

    I usually kept to myself at the department half the time, but Dan always wanted to talk whenever he saw me. It wouldn’t be really big conversations either, just some intimate ones that one has with good friends.I don’t think we got the chance to really talk to each other in my freshman year, but I am truly glad that we finally did a few years later.

    Because even the simplest pleasures in life will have the most profound effect on your life. Dan, thank you for talking to me.

  • David Blumenkrantz

    The greatest guy . . . would interrupt my class to talk with me about the Lakers. His love for people was so evident . . . I used to run into him with my family, walking our dogs on campus, and Dan would have something nice to say to everyone. A very sad loss . . .

  • David Wexler

    Really wonderful guy! Everytime I saw him he was so loving and energetic and smiling. One couldn’t help but have a smile on their face after talking with him.

    I first met Dan when I attended the TeenAge Drama Workshop, back when I was 12 in 1999. He was very welcoming and made me feel at home on a strange college campus. He would even remember me as well as my name when I returned to TADW a year later. He continued to be a friend and a daily fixture of my CSUN life for 11 years. He will be dearly missed.

  • Sandy Ramos

    He was a great guy. Since I met him Summer 08, he would always say to me that he was proud of me that an older student was going back to school. He would always encourage me everytime he saw me. He was on campus day and night it seemed. Just weeks ago he told me to keep pressing on and was happy that I was graduating. Always a smile on his face. Very sad to hear the news about his passing.