It seemed Hugh’s love of space and all things science began at birth, helped by regular dinner conversations, open houses at the University of Michigan (UofM) telescopes, Star Trek, Larry Niven, dozens of SciFi Conventions, endless conversations with amateur and professional astronomers, and many nights at the Lick Observatory. He assisted with a friend’s meteor work on Antarctica, attended private rocket launches, and even did some contract work for NASA. He always dreamed of the opportunity to make it into space himself, but he wasn’t counting on being reduced to 1 gram for the trip! Hugh didn’t believe in any form of “afterlife,” but in tribute to a warm and generous friend and beloved family member, we send a piece of him Ad Astra!
Hugh was a precocious child. There was never enough information to sate his immense intellect and endless curiosity. Add hyperactivity, dyslexia and ADHD to that mix, and “handful” is an inadequate description. Computers and a handful of teachers/mentors willing to attempt to sate his endless curiosity were his saving grace. As a teenager, Hugh spent every night into the wee hours at the UofM computer labs before the era of PC’s. Hugh became a talented hacker with a solid capacity for hardware as well. He was a member of Xanadu in the early years, The Well, and FreeSwan to name a few of his endeavors. More than anything, though, Hugh was the sounding board for ideas for a wide array of dear friends who could call anytime, preferably between 10pm-6am, to bounce ideas, problems and data quandaries. It was these thousands of conversations where Hugh made his greatest impacts and contributions. Without fanfare or recognition, this was what fed his soul and made him a priceless friend to so many.
Few individuals live a truly principled life, but those who knew Hugh would agree he did. Hugh saw himself as a leader by example. He saw himself as a teacher and explorer of how things work. His passion was more than just about how things work, it was also how society should work. This was the core of how he lived, whether it was to help someone with a problem, awareness through political criticism, or just helping someone in need cross a street. The small picture and the details were always just as important as the main message. He desperately wanted us all to learn to live together in peace with fairness and respect for our differences. He actively lived his life with passion and dedication to these principles. A couple of his biggest themes were freedom on the Internet and privacy, having spent much of his professional career in computer security.
On the gentler side, Hugh was the biggest teddy bear any child ever met. He adored children and encouraged children to climb his hulking Highland Scot’s frame. He loved contra and english country dance. And he loved Mountain Dew and Coke. Hugh had a booming voice and was a bigger than life presence; this sentence is too quiet to really convey just how big he was, figuratively and literally. He is missed by his hundreds of friends and family.
The Family extends a particular thank you to Gary Barnhard for initiating and managing this journey and a big hug to the dozens of Hugh friends who donated the funds. There is no bigger tribute to Hugh than the generosity of so many friends, and we all know he’d have a child’s enthusiasm for this journey and the fact that it was offered with such love. Thank you all.
The family and friends of Hugh Daniel request that, in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be made to support participation by Mr. Daniel in the Sunjammer mission. Click here to make a donation on Mr. Daniel's behalf.