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John Danielson, 73, a resident of Princeton almost continuously since arriving as a freshman at Princeton University in 1954, died April 13 at home surrounded by his family.
Mr. Danielson was born in Hartford, Connecticut, and spent the first nine years of his life in Danielson, Connecticut. He spent the rest of his childhood in Windham, Connecticut, and also lived in Switzerland and Monroe, Washington, as well as Princeton. Mr. Danielson attended Princeton from 1954-58, only the second student from his high school to do so. At Princeton, he was active in campus affairs, serving as a guide for visitors, and making many friends, particularly among his co-workers in the dining hall. Following graduation, he spent a year at Johns Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore. and a second year pursuing scientific research in Switzerland before returning to Princeton in 1960.
In Princeton until 1979, (and again after 1988) Mr. Danielson worked in several University offices (Admissions and Financial Aid) before becoming Executive Director of the Princeton Summer Camp in 1971. In addition, he was active in a number of community groups, particularly the Youth Council and the Council of Community Services. In 1979, Mr. Danielson moved with his wife Charlotte and their young family to the Pacific Northwest, and spent the next 9 years pursuing a dream of establishing an intentional community, using sustainable agriculture and green construction. The result of those efforts was a passive solar house that was well in advance of its time, and experience, with other families, of organic and sustainable food production.
The family returned to Princeton in 1988, when Mr. Danielson assumed a position with Princetonís Development Office, and then with the Princeton Blairstown Center. He held this position until he was forced to retire, in 2000, due to a diagnosis of cancer and challenging recovery from extensive surgery.
John Danielsonís enduring contribution to the Princeton area, and beyond, lies in his vision for the Princeton Summer Camp, later re-named the Princeton Blairstown Center. Founded in 1908, it had long served youth from urban areas with a traditional program of arts and crafts and waterfront activities. Under his leadership, it evolved to a year-round adventure-based program serving urban young people and their families through a wide range of programs and services. Moreover, he led its transformation from a reliance on traditional sources of energy to installations of hydro, solar, and water-powered structures; these developments continue to this day, taking advantage of more recent technical developments.
Mr. Danielson is survived by his wife, Charlotte Fremon Danielson; daughters Susan Danielson of Princeton and Sarah Rominski of Ann Arbor, Michigan, sister, Harriet Cone, of Johnson City, Tennessee; brother, Dana Danielson, of Traceyís Landing, Maryland;, and grandson, George Rominski, also of Ann Arbor.
A celebration of the life of John Danielson will be held on Saturday, June 13th, at 2:00 p.m. at the Carl Fields Center, on the Princeton University campus. In lieu of flowers, please send memorial contributions to the Princeton Blairstown Center, 350 Alexander Road, Princeton, NJ, 08540.
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