I first met Damon 32 years ago, when he and Sarah were a newly married couple living in Los Gatos. I liked him immediately: and who wouldn’t? He was among the most socially adept people I’ve ever known: at ease with all kinds of people, comfortable with all manner of conversations, and fun: never self-centered, always a great listener. There seemed to be nothing he couldn’t have meaningful exchanges about with friends and family. And he so loved Sarah, he made special efforts, it seemed to me, to include her friends like me – as much a friend as a cousin — in their circle.
I could see how happy they were living in Sebastopol, once they had made that move, and after that, I visited their home so many times I can’t count: for Thanksgivings and Christmases, special dinner, birthday parties, friendly visits, and on and on. Damon’s specialty was smoked turkey for T’day: an event he would plan for days ahead. He was a master-host, choosing the perfect wine to match the meal, carving up the perfect meat course, establishing a tone of cordiality at the table: obviously so pleased to be doing so. Christmas was always a special treat: with a locally sourced tree and highly entertaining distribution of gifts, including the famous ancient family shirt that made surprise appearances in otherwise innocuous-looking packages. And there was always the jazz classics playing on Damon’s aging sound system in the background: a tribute to his Dad.
My own particular tie to Damon was through his love of history, especially my field of American Revolutionary history. He had an up-to-date library of new works on the American Founders, reading Ellis, and Chernow, and Wood. My sense is he had developed a strong idea of what it meant to be an American liberal through those readings: in the sense of late 18th-century classical liberalism. I didn’t entirely agree with him, but I so enjoyed talking with him about these issues.
I know Damon and Sarah and Duncan all loved to fly, and they knew the hazards involved. They were an adventuresome trio, a truly American West family: though they knew no boundaries. They completed a bountifully wonderful safari to southern Africa some years ago, and Duncan seemingly without a second thought made a solo trek to Chile and lived for a time in Taiwan. Most recently, this past April, Damon and Sarah spent a romantic week in Venice.
Damon was the epitome of a family man, a gentleman, and an adventurer, all bound up in one person. I miss him deeply. May you rest in peace, dear friend.