Memorial: Saying Farewell to Dan McParlane
by Patrick Burke
Some people said that Dan McParlane and I had a bro-mance. Our mutual friend Greg Olma said that it was as if he had introduced his girlfriend to his best friend and that they had started going out behind his back. That’s a weird way of putting it, but it is true that we became fast friends.
In Dan, I saw a humble, thoughtful, and intuitive leader. He was unique to politics in that he was not driven solely by personal ambition. He saw the bigger picture, he was patient, and he was intelligent. In my opinion, he was the leader that the Erie County Democratic Party desperately needed.
Dan’s star was on the rise. He fielded strong candidates for his judicial delegate slate and won; he put up the affable Billy Hanley for West Seneca Town Council and won; he broke from his political allies and supported my underdog candidacy for Erie County legislator and he won. In the 2013 election cycle, Dan McParlane had the Midas Touch.
His political skills aside, it was the goodness in his soul that made him so admirable. In the ego-driven world of politics, Dan was special just for being a normal and kind human being.
This past summer, the campaign was taking its toll on me and my family. We were stressed and my kids needed me around. I promised to attend their summer camp event but there was a problem; I had time-sensitive paper work that needed to be completed.
Dan saved the day. He drove around, collected what I needed, and brought it to the camp. When he pulled up, he had an elderly woman in the car. He got out, we talked for a minute, and then the elderly woman shouted, “Goddamned politicians!” I asked “What gives?” He rolled his eyes and said not to mind her, that she was his neighbor who needed someone to take her grocery shopping.
I tell that story because it highlights who he was as a person. Not many 33-year-old men take their elderly neighbor grocery shopping.
Two weeks ago, a group of friends had dinner after the governor’s fundraiser. I had the opportunity to toast Dan and thank him for his support. I remember saying to my wife after we left how good it felt that night, how happy we were with the people around us, and how hopeful we were for the future. It was exactly a week after that dinner that Dan and I met for the last time.
That evening we had an incredibly positive conversation, we had some great laughs and our strategy for 2014 was beginning to take shape. We broke from our meeting, gave each other a man hug (handshake, double tap on the back, break) and said goodbye. Dan never made it home that night. I received a call early the next morning that my friend was gone.
The happiest I ever saw him was the night of the primary. We weren’t expecting him because he was busy with his other races in West Seneca but suddenly he kicked through the door of our party. The exuberance on his face was as if the Bills had just won the Super Bowl. In his excitement, he grabbed me and put me in a headlock; my neck hurt for a week after. He’ll never get to experience the jubilation of a Bills Super Bowl victory (and let’s just be honest, neither will the rest of us) but I like to think that night was Dan’s Super Bowl.
I’m taking you with me, Danny.
> Patrick Burke, Buffalo
Burke was elected this fall to the Erie County Legislature, representing the 7th District.
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