Obituary: Daniel W. Harrington

Posted at 2:59 PM, Sep 29, 2015
and last updated 2018-08-10 11:28:41-04

Daniel W.  Harrington was born on February 12, 1938 in Butte to Nora Maddock and Bernard (Denny the Buck)  Harrington.  He attended Immaculate Conception School and graduated from Butte Central High School and later Western Montana College.  He was a teacher and coach in the Butte School District for over 35 years.  During the 1960 campaign for John F. Kennedy he met the love of his life, Patricia Gallagher, when they got stuck in an elevator together.   They were married on December 29, 1962, and celebrated their 52nd anniversary last December.   He and Pat were blessed with three children; Kathleen (Charlie), Dan and Kevin (Trish).   He had six grandchildren Megan and Ryan Coleman, Bryce and Tyler Harrington and Daniel and Henry Harrington.  He is also survived by in-laws Jim and Mitzi Daily; Billie and Dan Shovlin; Charlie (Jiggs) and Ann Marie Field; Connie Daily and Bobbie Daily.  Numerous special nieces and nephews Marty and Terri Daily, Bill and Mary Ellen Daily, Bob and Leighanne Daily, Beth and Greg Shaw, Becky and Jim Sprunger, Jamee and Matt Mazuryk, Sam and Ann Luoma, Heather and Mike Mattson; Kate and Robby  Farnes and Chris and Kim Bettini.   He had many special cousins  and had a very special relationship with Kathy Hayes, Margie Hirschy and Mike O’Keefe. 

Dan began his teaching career in 1961 and taught until 1997.  What he was known most for was his outstanding political career.  He started at a young age when he was President of the Silver Bow County Young Democrats in 1960.  He was a member of the Constitutional Convention in 1972 and served in the Montana Legislature from 1977 to 2009 serving in Leadership during several sessions.  Even after he was termed out of the Legislature he continued to serve his community and State.  His most current endeavors included the TIFID Board of Directors since 2001, Executive Board of AARP and the Governor’s Council on Aging.   He was inducted into the Butte Sports Hall of Fame in 1995 as a member of the 1953 and 1955 Butte Central Football Teams, the Assistant General Manager of the Butte Copper Kings for a year and Grand Marshal of the 2012 St. Patrick’s Day parade.

There are so many words that describe Dan.  Some need explanation and some don’t.  The first word is family.  His wife, kids, and grandkids were the light of his life. He never missed a ballgame of his kids or grandkids, or for any family member for that matter.  He was very proud of his three kids and all of their accomplishments.  As his grandkids came along, the lives of Pat and Dan became complete.  They were their world.  He had special names for all of his grandkids and was delighted in participating in their lives.  Megan Bohagen (Megan) was Papa’s princess and he loved watching her dance.  One of his greatest joys this year was that Brycee Boy (Bryce) made the varsity football team as a freshman.  Papa loved that Ty Man (Tyler) always picked the biggest guy on the team to guard.   He couldn’t wait to hear about Ry Boy’s (Ryan) “NEXT” adventure.  He loved Daniel’s kind and gentle heart and always enjoyed watching all of his sporting events.  The highlight of Papa’s day was his after school burgers with Henny Penny (Henry).   Nothing made Dan happier than when his whole family got together for a family dinner, a nice fall afternoon enjoying a Griz football game or in front of the television cheering on Notre Dame or his 49’ers.   He looked forward to his annual 3rd of July celebration at his house on Excelsior Street (which often outdid the Butte Celebrations display), and he loved a good parade usually walking in it to support the local democratic party or a favorite candidate. 

Another four words that describe Dan, which were portrayed on one of his favorite shirts were Butte.  Irish.  Catholic. Democrat.  That says it all. 

Advocate is another word that describes Dan.  His many accomplishments included working tirelessly for those that needed an increase in the minimum wage, anyone who needed help to obtain essential benefits, or just lending a helping hand.  He was also a strong advocate for education in his work as a life-long teacher and in the legislature. His giving nature continued even after death when he was able to be a donor.  His many miles walking up and down Excelsior will end up helping several people. 

The last word is friend.  If you met Dan once you were his friend.  It was always difficult to walk through a crowd with Dan because he would stop and talk to everyone.  Dan was a good friend to many and had many good friends. 

Recently he received the John Ortwein Memorial Award from the Human Resources Foundation of Montana.  The quote on the award describes Dan, the life he lead and the difference he made.   The award stated “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”  

In honor of Dan, the family invites everyone to wear their favorite team shirt and join the family after the service for a “tailgate party” at the Knights of Columbus Hall. 

In lieu of flowers the family requests memorials to the American Syringomyelia & Chiari Alliance Project Inc. in memory of Dan.  P.O. Box 1586 Longview TX 75606. or Highlands Hospice 3703 Harrison Ave. Butte MT  59701.