A tribute to a fan we never knew we had.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jan 01, 2002

TOM: Today's column is dedicated to Dan Gade, a friend we didn't
know we had until we read this obituary by Sally Ryen in The Davis
(Calif.) Enterprise:

Dan Gade not only restored cars, but he restored hearts as well.
Students and staff at Davis High School were devastated Monday (Nov.
19) when the news reached them that beloved teacher Daniel Lee Gade
had died over the weekend. Gade, 56, had taught auto shop and power
tech at DHS since August 1994. In that short time, Gade made an
impact on many Davis teens.

"He took academic types and exposed them to the blue-collar world,"
said Kathy Ware, whose two sons, Mike and Matt Erke, took classes
from Gade. "Here were two boys who didn't exactly like getting their
hands dirty, and he made auto shop come alive for them."

Gade died in his sleep on Monday morning of apparent heart failure.
He was found by his wife, Robyn, who is an attendance secretary at
Davis High. Students and staff mourned for both halves of the
popular couple.

"It's evident from the strong emotions exhibited by students and
staff that Dan was dynamic, a much-beloved teacher, colleague and
friend," said Marilyn Mansfield, interim principal.

Gade taught in the Los Angeles Unified School District for 12 years
before coming to Davis. He taught both industrial arts and art in
Southern California. He took a break from teaching between 1981 and
1991 to work for Snap-On Tools in Sacramento, Calif., where he was
promoted to sales manager.

Known for wearing wild shirts that displayed his love for all kinds
of cars, the twinkle-eyed, smiling, mustachioed Gade reached a
cross-section of students that transcended academic, social,
economic and racial differences.

"He was a nice, grounded, all-around guy who talked to you as a
person, and not as a teacher, to students," said junior Christine
O'Neil. "He was warm and loving, and it just made the class
something to look forward to."

All over campus, posters went up proclaiming love and affection for
both of the Gades. Counselors sat with bereft students in the
auto-shop building, where a sign went up that read: "Dan Gade: We
love you with all of our hearts." Photo memorials sprang up on
doors, while a photo album Gade maintained circulated throughout the

"One student told me that Dan had just told him last Friday that he
was going to be a great man," said counselor Courtenay Tessler. "He
said nobody had ever told him that before. I said, 'Well, Mr. Gade
never lied, so I guess he left you with quite a gift,' and the boy
just beamed."

One student wrote: "Dear Robyn: The reason why so many students
loved Dan was because he respected all kinds of people. He was
everything a teacher should be."

An avid fan of the automotive wizards of Boston, Click and Clack,
Gade had a tradition of reading their syndicated column aloud every
week to his classes.

"Nobody could read 'Click and Clack' like he could," said one
student, "but we're going to keep reading it in his honor."

Get the Car Talk Newsletter

Got a question about your car?

Ask Someone Who Owns One