Farewell, Dan Cummings

I wanted to write a few words about Dan Cummings who passed away last week, suddenly, at the age of only 64.  Dan was our very first friend in Brattleboro, and he was one of the most true friends we’ve ever had, here or anywhere.

At the time we moved to Vermont, in 2001, he owned Avenue Grocery on Western Ave, a few blocks from our new home.  Since I was in his store many times a week, we got to be good friends.

I’ll never forget the first time I stopped into the store.  I walked in late one afternoon to buy a six pack, and of course, Dan carded me.  Being over 40 at the time, I was a bit bugged, but I could see he wasn’t going to budge so I went home and got my ID.  I told him to be sure to remember me because I would be coming in many times in the future.  He laughed and that was the last time I got carded there.

Going to get coffee in the morning was a good time to chat with Dan and get filled in on all the neighborhood news and views.  He kept me up to date but never more so than on the morning of 9/11. I  had walked over to the store shortly after the first tower fell, and as we stood at the counter, watching CNN on the TV screen he had there, we saw the second tower fall.  I remember asking him, Is this live?  and in that measured way he had, he said, yes, he thought it was.  It was one of those strange and memorable moments.

A few years later, we gave one of our first big parties, and Dan was a guest.  It was to be a Beltane party — a Celtic version of May Day — and we had joked with our friends that romance might be in the air that night.  Well, it certainly was for Dan and our friend Joanie.  From the moment they met, they seem destined to be a couple, and they were from that point forward.  I was always glad that the May Queen smiled on our gathering, and brought two of the nicest people I know together.

Dan was the kind of guy who would do anything for you.  When we moved this last time, he was one of the friends who helped us haul “the small stuff.”  Dan personally unloaded at least 49 boxes of books, to the point where we were begging him to let other people help him.  But he was so fast and efficient that he had everything neatly stacked in no time.  But what a lot of work.  Dan didn’t mind.

It isn’t often that you meet a guy like Dan, and it is incredibly sad to lose him.   Our hearts go out to Joanie and to his family. Like so many folks in Brattleboro, we’re going to miss him very much.

Thank you, Dan, for your many years of friendship!

Read Dan’s Obituary

Comments | 2

  • Classy

    I miss Dan, too.

    He was such a fixture on Western Ave for so long. He told me once that his store was a hangout for local politicians for a while. Tim O’Connor used to stop in and talk issues with those around the counter. Everyone in that neighborhood used Western Avenue grocery. Everyone there knew Dan.

    He had a photo of a giant Santa Claus on the wall. It was something his family did when he was younger. They had made a multi-story Santa Claus that they would put on display each Christmas.

    I remember when he got divorced and was a bit frazzled. He didn’t really know how to cook anything, so I made him a bachelor’s guide to quick meals. How to make pasta and salads… that sort of thing.

    I was sorry to hear he gave up the little store, but was happy to be able to run into him again at the Co-op, where he worked in the produce department for quite a while. I wasn’t sure the Co-op would be his sort of gig, but it seemed to work out quite well. He also did extra delivery work at holidays. He worked very hard.

    We lived on Cedar Street with him, and we were out walking and he wasn’t at work somewhere, you might see in his window the glow of a large TV tuned into a sports event of some sort.

    He did seem happiest when he found Joanie. We had no ulterior motives when we held that Beltane party, but the sparks did fly. (Dan and Joanie were one of two couple to meet that night. Another Dan, and Phayvahn, were the other….)

    I always liked Dan’s dry wit and sarcasm, and as Lise said, he was a solid friend. It’s really hard to believe he’s not around.

  • A Sad Loss

    I didn’t know Dan well, but he was my friend Joanie’s SO for 14 years. They were a perfect couple, both good, kind, hardworking people. He was generous and openhearted, always upbeat. My heart goes out to everyone who knew him, but especially to Joanie and their families. Gone much too soon.

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