The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

Tribute: Danny Sparrell


February 14, 2018

Valdez Star file photo

Dan Sparrell in happier times.

Time stopped for many across Valdez Tuesday evening as friends and former colleagues of Dan Sparrell took part in "A Toast for One Helluva Guy."

Danny, as most called him, died at his home in Honolulu Sunday.

"Danny was never big on ceremonies," his wife Lisa said in a Facebook post Monday. "We're not having a funeral. He envisioned a wake, where everyone tells stories and shares memories and drinks."

He requested that the toast include the song Uncle John's Band by the Grateful Dead.

We doubt Danny would have wanted a traditional obituary either – so this is a tribute to his life.

Danny was age 44 at the time he died after a two-year battle against a very aggressive form of colorectal cancer. He left behind his wife Lisa and his daughter, Seraphina.

He also left behind friends from everywhere he lived in his short but full life – and that includes Valdez.

Dan and Lisa came to Valdez from Barrow in early 2005, when he became the news director for KCHU public radio. He also worked at the Valdez Star, taught college level classes at Prince William Sound Community College and later became the general manager for KCHU.

The family later relocated to Hawaii to pursue other dreams.

Danny often shared his struggles fighting cancer on social media – and ever the comic – announced his deteriorating condition on a Facebook page he called "Danny's Ass Cancer Update Page."

On January 23, he wrote these words:


My cancer has continued to metastasize around the hips. Some new ones formed recently on the other side hip. And it's moved to the liver. That is not a good thing. That's when doctors foolishly throw around potential months to live. I'm still fighting-don't get me wrong, but a new emphasis on quality of every day. Every smile. Every touch.

You get it. This is such a downer.

Working on...ok, should be working on end of life stuff. Super fun paper work.

Also had lots of visitors. Thanks to everyone who came to visit. Even if during daughter's major surgery or missile on the way. Thanks for raising my spirits. Bringing more smiles (I get a lot at home. And more good news...this is fun.). Thanks for the gifts and well wishes.

This where I am. Hail Mary chemo pill against very aggressive cancer.

Feeling lucky with where I live, my friends, a lot of other stuff, and mostly my wife and daughter.

A helluva guy indeed.


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