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Sugarman Sinai Memorial Chapel

458 Hope Street, Providence, RI

OBITUARY

Daniel G. Siegel

July 22, 1935December 18, 2019

Daniel G. Siegel of Providence, Rhode Island passed away peacefully on December 18, 2019 at the age of 84 surrounded by his loving family. Dan was a devoted father, grandfather, uncle and friend. He was known for his generosity, kindness, intellect and wit, all of which he maintained until the very end. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

Dan is survived by his son Matthew Siegel and daughter-in-law Amy of Natick, Massachusetts, his son Stephen Siegel and daughter-in-law Jennifer of Falls Church, Virginia, and his three loving grandchildren Rachel, Jason and Andy. He is also survived by his loving companion Sheila Hughes, who together with her daughters Meghan and Kathleen and their families gave him great pleasure and joy in his later years.

Dan was the sole proprietor of both M & S Rare Books and M & S Press of Providence and an icon in the book collecting world for over 50 years until he retired in March 2019 at the age of 83. Dan turned his love of writing, philosophy, and social history into a passion for identifying and collecting rare books of significance from the 1800s and early 1900s which had not previously been recognized as such, with a focus on the important social and political issues of the day.

Dan was born in Wheaton, Illinois on July 22, 1935, attended New Trier High School outside of Chicago, graduated from Brown University in Providence in 1957 with a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and from the prestigious Writer’s Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1959 with a Master’s in Fine Arts before moving to Weston, Massachusetts with his wife Roberta in 1960 and moving back to Providence in 1993.

Dan maintained a strong connection with Brown throughout his life, especially with the John Hay Library where he served for many years as a member of the Library Advisory Council and on the board of the Friends of the Library. In appreciation of his lifetime of support, the library created the Daniel G. Siegel, ’57 Fellowship in his name and Dan was honored at a special reception celebrating the exhibit Collecting with Distinction for being “a long and outstanding supporter of special collections.”

Dan’s most recent donation to the library included over 3,000 books and 100 manuscripts. Among the highlights of his donations over the years were a first edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass inscribed by Whitman and Oscar Wilde, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s copy of the report on the Dred Scott case and, most significantly, the only surviving original manuscript of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Dan pursued many passions throughout his life too numerous to mention. He served as President of the board of Common Cause Rhode Island with a special focus on Separation of Powers and he served as Chairman of the Recreation Department in Weston where he helped to greatly expand recreational facilities, including lighted tennis courts at the high school and a competition-sized indoor swimming pool. Dan was also an avid sprinter who competed in master’s track events both locally and around the country until his late 70s.

To quote the American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” That is exactly how Dan lived his life, a life well-lived by any score.

There will be a service and reception in Dan’s memory on Saturday, December 28th beginning at 1 pm in the chapel at Swan Point Cemetery, 585 Blackstone Boulevard in Providence.

Shiva will take place at Matt and Amy’s home, 4 Appletree Lane in Natick on Sunday, December 29 from 2-8 pm with a service at 5 pm.

Donations in Dan’s memory may be made to: Common Cause Rhode Island, 245 Waterman Street, Suite 400A, Providence, RI 02906 or to the Brown University Library, 10 Prospect Street, Box 10 A, Providence, RI 02912.

Services

  • Memorial Service Saturday, December 28, 2019

Memories

Daniel G. Siegel

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Rachel Peterson

December 31, 2019

Dan was a wonderful friend - kind and fascinating. I'll miss our many conversations at the Brown gym where he trained for his races. I am lucky to have known him. May he rest in peace.

H. Philip West Jr.

December 30, 2019

Dan Siegel played a central role in Rhode Island's 2004 Separation of Powers Amendment. He was shocked to learn that - since the Royal Charter of 1663 - the General Assembly had controlled Rhode Island government without the functional checks and balances that are characteristic of American government at the federal level and in the other 49 states.

After the 1999 RI Supreme Court advisory that the state had no separation of powers, he told the Common Cause board: “People are starting to understand that Rhode Island is floating half-way between the American and British systems of government, and either would be better than what we’ve got.”

He helped plan strategy, educated the public, testified before legislative committees, and raised money for the long but ultimately successful legal battle.

Dan had found and published the only surviving typescript of George Orwell's 1984 filled with Orwell’s handwritten editing notes.

Dan cared deeply about history, and like the founders of our nation, he held a dim view of human nature. He understood — as James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and George Orwell had — that sooner or later a despot would inevitably gain high office and abuse power.

Dan believed that only carefully crafted laws — vigorously enforced — can prevent corrupt leaders from Orwellian abuses of power.

Dan knew we had to build the rule of law,
and he did that work with all his mind and heart.


Steven Finer

December 21, 2019

He was a man of immense, complex, fascinating character. I feel
privileged to have known him. He's cast a long, grand profile in
the antiquarian book trade, one which no one is ever likely to fill
again.

Carl T. Bogus

December 21, 2019

Dan was a fierce yet always cheerful warrior in the battle for separation of powers in Rhode Island. He was just the person you wanted in your foxhole - determined, selfless, and upbeat. He made great contributions to good government through his work at Common Cause. Rhode Island is better for his efforts.

Michael Ginsberg

December 21, 2019

Dan was a terrific bookman and all around goota nashuma. He had great knowledge of books and his passing has saddened all who knew him. My condolences to the family. I knew Dan for over 60 years. May he rest in peace.

Jim Visbeck

December 20, 2019

One of the good guys.

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY