The following In Memory was to have appeared in the Winter 2008 Issue combined with the piece submitted by Dan’s wife, Ellen.
It was my privilege to have been Dan Grinnell’s friend since we met in Morrow in fall of 1965. Dan and I were best men at each other’s weddings, and we both became attorneys in sole practice on opposite coasts, while keeping in touch on family and professional matters.
At Amherst, Dan was fearless in expressing his individualistic views in classes which could be intimidating for the rest of us, such as Professor Baird’s Shakespeare I-II. Moreover, if Dan believed the College was deficient in addressing the needs of students, he would take action to remedy the problem himself. For example, one morning I went to breakfast early after a nocturnal storm had coated the walks with ice. There was Dan, removing ice from the walks in front of Morrow because buildings and grounds had not yet appeared, and some students had already slipped and fallen.
Dan was a true Renaissance man, living a life of action which encompassed broad study from history to science, adventure, exploration, and extensive domestic and international travel. He loved the oceans and sailed with great skill whenever possible a wide variety of craft from sailfish to large ocean going sailboats in all types of weather. Dan always carried a collapsible kayak in his 1974 Chevy Nova in case he sighted a waterway which needed exploring.
Dan prepared at Phillips Exeter, majored in geology at Amherst, earned a masters degree in geology with studies in oceanography at the Univ. of South Carolina, and received his JD from Hofstra Univ. law school in New York.
After extensive travels throughout the US, Dan chose to locate his law practice first in San Francisco and later in Novato, CA. Having passed the California Bar exam with ease, Dan initially became a litigator of tort and criminal cases. Dan was a brilliant lawyer who combined creativity, discipline, courage, and immense determination in litigation specializing in environmental, zoning, and consumer lending cases.
Dan gave an extraordinary amount of time to pro bono cases, particularly those involving the environment. Also, Dan sat as a pro bono court hearing officer and arbitrator of small claims cases. In addition, Dan was a very active volunteer working on local government planning issues and was a member of the executive committee of the Marin County Sierra Club. Recently, he had coauthored an article on the merits of litigation versus arbitration for the Marin County Bar Association. Carried on by associates, Dan’s final case is ongoing and promises to become a landmark case attacking abusive subprime lending practices.
Above all, Dan was a loving husband to his wife, Ellen, and a loving father to his daughter, Lilly, who hopes to become a lawyer. Dan likewise was devoted to his father, Carroll C. “Bud” Grinnell ’43, who sadly passed away on January 18, 2008; his surviving sister, Lucinda Bischoff; and his brother, David Grinnell.
After a valiant fight, Dan succumbed with dignity to melanoma on October 5, 2007, and will be greatly missed. Dan’s life is signified by his love of family, passion for justice, and extensive hands-on contributions toward preserving the environment.
—Ted Holmes ’69