Daniel P. Brassell

Former Durango Public Library Director Daniel P. Brassell died of malignant metastatic melanoma Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013, at his home in Sahuarita, Ariz. He turned 69 six weeks earlier.

Known as “Dan,” he was born to Willard Francis and Elizabeth (Poetl) Brassell on Dec. 28, 1944, in Chicago. His family moved to San Diego in the early 1950s. He graduated from Lincoln High School and went on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in American History from San Diego State University. He later earned a master of library science from Syracuse University in New York.

On Sept. 7, 1968, he married Cathy Heath in Borrego Springs, Calif.

He worked at several libraries, including the Byrd Library at Syracuse University and Waterloo Public Library in Iowa, at both of which he directed library moves and consolidations into new facilities. He was the director of Durango Public Library from 1984 to 1998. He retired in 2008 after serving as director of the Medfield Public Library in Massachusetts, and he and his wife moved to Sahuarita.

He belonged to several professional organizations, including the American and Colorado library associations. He was instrumental in linking Western Slope libraries through the Marmot system.

While in Durango, Mr. Brassell was a member of the Optimist Club and Colorado Archaeological Society.

In addition to continuing a lifelong love of reading and classical music, particularly opera, he pursued astronomy during his retirement. Mr. Brassell was a member of the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association and the Sonoran Astronomical Society. He spent many nights with his telescope visiting area schools and teaching students and their parents about the objects in the night sky and the importance of protecting dark skies. He also participated each year in the Grand Canyon National Park Star Party, sharing his telescope with thousands of visitors from around the world.

Mr. Brassell is survived by his wife of 44 years, former Durango School District 9-R Board of Education member Cathy Brassell of Sahuarita; sons, Danny Brassell of Redondo Beach, Calif., and Air Force Lt. Col. Jim Brassell of Singapore; daughter Liz Brassell of Lakewood, Calif.; and four grandchildren.

Cremation will occur. No services are planned.

Memorial contributions to provide books for children who live in poverty-stricken areas may be sent to BookEnds, 2957 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064, or www.bookends.org.

Condolences may be sent to Cathy Brassell, 66 W. Calle Tierra Sandia, Sahuarita, AZ 85629.