Memories of Dan Sachs by Joan Sachs Shaw '60

From the 50'th Reunion Book, Class of 1960

In the autumn of 1960 Dan sailed to England to begin his studies as a Rhodes Scholar at Worcester College, Oxford. He read history with a special interest in Abraham Lincoln. He was elected to head the Junior Common Room, and he took up rugby, which he played for three years. He played for Worcester College and for the Oxford University Rugby Football Club. He won a blue playing for Oxford against Cambridge at Twickenham. Dan was especially pleased about that honor, as Oxford does not like to award blues to Americans.

Dan returned to America in the autumn of 1963 to enter The Harvard Law School. Gaining a law degree was the next step in Dan’s plan to go into politics and become a Republican senator for the state of Pennsylvania. Late one night, as Dan was studying, I was awakened to hear him speaking in a stentorian voice. When I asked him what he was doing, he replied that he was giving a State of the Union Address. I was.taken back a bit, as I did know of his plans for Pennsylvania. He explained simply that “Every man wants to get to the top of his profession.”

Dan and I met in Cambridge in the spring of 1964 and were married at Princeton in the University Chapel in September of that year. He finished law school in 1966, and we moved to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Dan began to practice law in nearby Allentown.

Our daughter, Alexandra, was born at Bethlehem September 15, 1966. That was a joyful time for us even in the shadow of Dan’s illness. He loved being a father and delighted in Alexandra, his greatest legacy.

Dan’s cancer, a synovioma on his left knee, was diagnosed at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in June, 1964. Shortly after that he had an extensive removal and resection at the Massachusetts General Hospital, and we were told that the “edges” were clean. Dan was able to walk down the aisle when we were married that September, and he went on to finish the last two years at The Harvard Law School. Frequent visits to the doctors showed no recurrence until August, 1966. He returned to The Mass. General Hospital, where on the sixth of August they amputated his left leg above his knee. No glands were removed, and no further treatment was undertaken.

When we returned to Bethlehem, Dan learned to use his crutches and managed to hike up and down the three flights of stairs two and three times a day. He was my “Lamaze” coach for my labor and delivery of Alexendra on September 15. He continued to work at the law and did all the preparations necessary for his highly anticipated prosthesis. Unfortunately, more cancer showed up, and the rest of his leg and part of his hip were removed. Still Dan soldiered on, continued his law work and went on long walks with Alexandra and me. He also began regular trips to. The Ravdin Institute in Philadelphia for chemotherapy treatment.

In the spring of 1967, Dan became too weak to continue.practicing law but was still able to play with Alexandra, who was nine months old, and to have some last conversations with me. In the evening of June 19th, 1967, Dan sat up in bed and asked me for his weights so that he might work out to regain some strength. On the morning of the 20th, he began to have difficulty breathing. Alexandra crept across his chest, and he patted her head and smiled. A short time later, he tried to speak. Then he was gone.

Dan is buried in The Niskey Hill Cemetary in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Friends and family helped me to find the perfect spot ..... under a splendid magnolia tree as a perpetual reminder of the evening walks we took in Cambridge, where we always passed under a magnificent magnolia tree at the Harvard Divinity School.

Alexandra, a charming and enchanting child, has grown up to be a magnificent woman, who is so like her father in many, many ways. She graduated from Harvard with a degree in East Asian Studies. After college she worked as an executive recruiter and as a development officer at Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut.

Alexandra married Brooke Ablon, Amherst ’89, and they have two children. Kate, 14, is an excellent student and an avid swimmer. Charlie, 12, is also an excellent student. Charlie is a fine athlete who loves all sports and is intensely competitive in all of them. Off the fields he is a gentle, soft spoken lad. Alexandra is a full time mother and a tireless volunteer for her community.

I did re-marry eventually, and, although I am not married now, Alexandra has two brothers and a little sister. They are Ben Shaw, University of Wisconsin ’97, Daniel Shaw, American University of Paris ’98, and Caitlin Shaw Henig H’98. Caitlin is married to Josh Henig, Princeton ’90.

Princeton continues to honor the memory of Dan with the Daniel M. Sachs-Class of 1960 Scholarship. The scholarship is a living and amazing legacy in memory of one of Princeton’s finest graduates, whose life was cut short much too soon.