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Legacy of David Daniels MD | his memorial service

On June 30th, a memorial service was held for David Daniels MD, an Enneagram teacher of major magnitude, who partnered with Helen Palmer and others to legitimize and bring the Enneagram into widespread modern use. Although I live in Santa Monica, I flew up to Northern California for the service, just to be present and honor David. I know many people could not attend, so this blog is to share my experience being there.

My first impression was that this was neither a sad memorial of a singularly well-thought of person passing, nor did it feel like a celebration of his life. It was a combination of both, but even more, it was more about honoring his legacy as a person. And that, I think, will have a long-lingering impact on me and, hopefully, others.

David’s overall legacy
From viewing a video lovingly created by Suzanne Dion and heartfelt comments made by both his son, JD, and his daughter, Denise, David’s legacy was just as much in his family, his community, and who he was as a person as it was in the enneagram. You can view the tribute video by Suzanne here.

David’s family legacy
In so many public ways, David’s 6 decades-long marriage to his wife Judy was there for all to see. He adored her and, likewise, she adored him, and together they created an unbreakable bond that supported and grounded each of them and everyone they touched.

Their loving relationship, however, was not at the expense of their children, as can happen when a longtime couple are so into one another. JD, in particular, spoke about his bond with his father, one in which David was there throughout JD’s life, offering advice and perspective, even learning soccer so that he could become the soccer coach of JD’s team. Even more, JD spoke of their relationship as having become one of friends, moving far beyond the father-son dynamic into one of really liking each other as human beings. Denise spoke specifically to the qualities of her father, his qualities as a human being and how she hoped moving forward, to embody these herself.

The family legacy also involved Judy Daniels, who was not present at the memorial service. From the podium, David’s children explained that the family chose not to have Judy there because she is the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease and, as a result, has very short memory retention. Although she knows David has passed on, at another level, she does not remember this. As a result, each time she hears about it, she has to relive this as if it is the first time. Right now, she has forgotten and thinks he is away on an extended teaching assignment. And maybe he is!

David was also the archetypal, non-patriarchal, patriarch of a modern Enneagram family; Judy, his wife, came to and participated in numerous enneagram events; his son, JD, is a psychologist who uses the Enneagram, and his daughter, Denise, engages in enneagram-based research and is the co-author of a new enneagram book. There are now many enneagram families around the globe where the parents are enneagram teachers and their children are embracing the enneagram professionally, my own family included.

David’s community legacy
In addition to his intensive involvement with the enneagram and with his family, David was extremely involved in many progressive community groups local to the Menlo Park/Palo Alto area. It was hard to tell how many people were at the service – a guess is between 200-300 – although it was clear that there were contingents there from several of the communities in which David served. Where did he find the time?

David’s personal legacy
Many comments were made about David’s personal qualities, and here are some. He was naturally curious about pretty much everything. He never felt that he knew it all, so he was always learning. He was cautious yet courageous, holding onto what he believed to be true yet willing to try very new things when presented with the opportunity. He was not-pretentious, even though he was highly accomplished. And he was not materialistic; accumulating money, objects and status symbols held no interest for him.

David’s enneagram legacy
This legacy is far-reaching and long-lasting, the first three items started with Helen Palmer as his partner: (1) Stanford Conference in the mid-1990s, that set the modern enneagram on a robust trajectory; (2) EPTP, the Enneagram professional training programs taught worldwide; and (3) EANT, a community of teachers, students and practitioners. In addition, David co-authored “The Essential Enneagram,” a core, best-selling enneagram book that has been translated into multiple languages.

Even more than the above, David touched many, many people in deep personal ways through the way he used the enneagram. Leading type-panels of 3-5 exemplars of each type, he facilitated probing intra-personal work in the gentlest of ways. He did this so consistently, he became a role of for how to facilitate panels. This is most obvious, but not an exception, was when he led a children’s panel of 10-14 year-olds at the Santa Monica IEA (International Enneagram Association) Conference in the early 2000s. David also spent 1-1 time with people, seeing the best in them, asking thoughtful and probing questions, and helping them on their career paths in the enneagram community. He acted as if he had all the time in the world, which perhaps he did.

David was an incredibly normal person doing extraordinary things. In his family, he was referred to as “guy,” simply because he was one of the guys. He was referred to as a leprechaun and as a maker of sandcastles, the more intricate the better. One could say David created his own brand of magic!

Ginger Lapid-Bogda PhD, the author of four best-selling Enneagram-business books, is a speaker, consultant, trainer, and coach. She provides certification programs for professionals around the world who want to bring the Enneagram into organizations with high-impact business applications, and is past-president of the International Enneagram Association. Visit her website: The Enneagram in Business.com. ginger@theenneagraminbusiness.com

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