OBITUARY FOR DANIEL C. GUENTHER
NEW PALTZ NEW YORK
A BUILDER OF MANY THINGS
145 Mtn Rest Road
New Paltz NY 12561
Son of an architect, Dan always enjoyed building things, from forts made of bark and sticks at the family’s country home in New Paltz, to helping direct the construction of high-rise apartments in Manhattan. But he also liked building such community projects as planting trees, establishing the rail trail in New Paltz, and starting three farms here in the Hudson Valley.
Born in Manhattan in 1943, the second son of Elsie and Bernard Guenther, Dan spent many summers with siblings, parents and grandparents in what was very rural New Paltz. Most of his time was spent outdoors, especially helping his Grampa with his large vegetable garden. Therein lay the “seeds” of his future as an organic farmer.
Yet after graduating from Trinity College with a BA, and later on, earning a masters’ degree in civil engineering at Columbia University, Dan worked in an architectural firm as “clerk of the works,” overseeing construction of high-rise apartments in Manhattan. Having climbed thousands of stairs, it’s a wonder he was able to walk vigorously until his death at 77!
Despite his engineering training, Dan was drawn more to working outdoors with his hands and body. So after a two-year stint in Manhattan, where he met his future wife Ann, they moved to The Vly (Stone Ridge, New York) and renovated a ramshackle house.
There they homesteaded and raised two children, Mark Forest and Linda Brook, both of whom have continued to “work the soil.” The family also traveled to rural parts of Ecuador and also Africa, where Dan as a college student had participated one summer with a youth exchange program, gardening and planting trees.
Meanwhile, a new style of farming had emerged, called Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA), where people invested money in the farm, received weekly shares, and often helped with the work. This was a perfect match for Dan, who so enjoyed connecting people to the soil, and helping to create a spirit of community.
Dan then began a new career as a “farm starter!” – training people, especially young ones, to establish their own. Some of the local ones include: Brook Farm (New Paltz), Vassar Farm (Poughkeepsie), Common Ground Farm, (Wappingers Falls), and Phillies Bridge Farm, (Gardiner).
Until the day he died, he was still giving advice to young farmers who’d call him for answers to their pressing questions. How he enjoyed that – and how grateful they always were.
But he also was there for anyone who needed help of any kind, be it offering comfort or advice on life, or how to fix a broken axe handle. He had a big heart, and was always generous with his love and support.
Grateful, too, are those of us who knew and loved him – and were glad that he did not linger, but passed quietly into a heaven where he is probably farming clouds of joy.
Donations in his honor can be made to Phillies Bridge Farm, (philliesbridge.org. or 45 Phillies Bridge Rd, New Paltz NY 12561), or New Paltz Climate Action Coalition, (newpaltzclimateaction.org – or send a check to “New Paltz Climate Action,” PO Box 114, New Paltz NY 12561.
Copeland-Hammerl Funeral Home is honored to assist Dan’s family with the arrangements.