William Dann died of cardiac issues on September 6. 2020 in Lawrence, KS. A philanthropist, Bill focused his generosity on charities to help “little ones” and elders in Lawrence and Kansas City.
Bill had four major passions in life: playing jazz piano, writing “advertorials” (a word he coined), conversing with interesting people all around Lawrence, and donating to his beloved charities. Piano was his backup plan in case he “ever had to go to work.” Advertorials were the paid opinion pieces he printed in the Lawrence Journal World so the editor couldn’t change his carefully written words. An interesting conversation on the important issues of the day might inspire him to write a new advertorial, of which he published about 300. Perhaps most importantly, Bill liked to watch his charitable donations be put to good use by the charities he supported. He enjoyed visiting with and becoming friends with the leaders of those organizations and learning more about the people, young and old, that they helped daily.
William Arthur Dann was born on April 14, 1937, in New York City to the late Hollis Arthur Dann, piano professor at Oberlin College, and the late Anne “Petey” Cerf, whom Lawrence remembers as the founder of Kansas Advocates for Better Care, KU Audio Reader, and the Ballard Center (to all of which Bill was also an important donor). Bill lived in New York City, Oberlin, OH, and Beverly Hills, CA, before moving to Lawrence when he was 12. He was briefly a member of the Lawrence High School Class of 1955, but then attended the George School in Pennsylvania and graduated from the Oakwood School in New York. He attended the Universities of Vermont and Kansas but did not graduate. After stints in Burlington (Vermont), Boston, New York, Kansas City, and San Francisco, he moved to Lawrence for good in 1977. His main avocation was playing piano, with a focus on jazz. He practiced diligently several times daily and maintained a membership in the Kansas City Federation of Musicians for years “just in case” piano ever needed to become his vocation. He continually referred to himself as “a peripheral person” because he never married or held a job. In 2006, needing postoperative care, he entered Presbyterian Manor for a short stay; he liked it so much he sold his house and car and remained in Presbyterian Manor for the rest of his life.
His siblings Anne Dann Compton and James Dann predeceased him. He is survived by seven siblings or half-siblings, Elizabeth Dann Jones of Westport, NY, Charles Cerf (Cynthia Dunbar) of Washington, DC, Pauline Cerf Alexander (Lukas Franck) of Chester, NJ, Robert Dann of Nova Scotia, Canada, John Dann of Wadhams, NY, Thomas Dann (Terry Gee-Dann) of Hiram, ME, and Louise Dann Standish (Timothy) of McGrath, Alaska. Bill is also survived by 19 nieces and nephews and several great-nieces and great-nephews.
Memorial contributions in Bill’s memory may be directed to the Lawrence Presbyterian Manor Good Samaritan Fund, which helps residents to continue living there even after running out of funds. These contributions may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044,
Bill was always grateful to the many Lawrencians who extended the hand of friendship to him.
Bill’s family is especially grateful to his friend and advisor, Barbara Braa. A celebration of life will be announced at a later date, probably in 2021.