We called him Dandy Don. He’d come home from Friday night hoops at Woodstock Elementary, or from Tuesday nights on the court at Zena, full of scratches and bruises, according to his wife Linda, and she’d roll her eyes and ask what had happened and he’d say something like, well, sometimes you just gotta move ‘em out of the way.
He was a fierce but smooth hooper, Dandy Don was, competitive as we all were, playing each game on those tiny elementary school courts in the middle of nowhere as if it was the last game of the finals, and it was, because if you lost, you had to sit down and all you could do was make fun of the guys still on the court, and most of the time Don was still out there.
He passed away last Friday, November 19, peacefully, they tell me, and I hope so.
I still remember back in 1987 when I was contemplating a run for town supervisor and Don told me he’d been watching some messy vituperative town meeting on the access TV channel and came running down to the meeting, because, he said, “I’d better get involved…” So he snared a Democratic nod for town board and we became running mates, along with Tara Roberts. And lo and behold, it became a Democratic sweep and suddenly we had a 4-1 majority (Aileen Cramer was an incumbent holdover and A.J. Rose was the sole Republican).
Over the next year and a half, that town board, with Don standing tall, withstood withering criticism as only Woodstock can dish it out, and passed the 1989 zoning law that still stands, some 32 years later. Sure, it needs an oil change every now and then, and parts of the suspension have to be replaced, but I know it was a proud and transformative moment for Don, and for us all.
Don went on to become quite the savvy public servant, doing ten years on the County Legislature, the last couple of them as the Democrats’ Majority Leader. He would stop in uptown Kingston at my Woodstock Times office and we’d get coffee, gossip, remember the crazy times on and off both the basketball and political court. We’d talk about the antique business, in which he worked with Linda (they once found a sweet old 00-18 Martin guitar which I purchased from them and wish I still had today.) And he stayed the same, stalwart guy you’d want watching your back for you.
I’ll miss him. Woodstock will, too.
I’d be remiss not to mention Don’s great love for his wife, Linda, and son Morgan B. Miller; also for his sister in law Ellen Berlin; brother in law Harvey Greenstein and his wife Denise.
(Editor’s note: a more traditional obituary appears here)