Pastoral Comments for Daniel W. Liddell (1927-2012)

One of Dan Liddell’s favorite hymns was The King of Love my Shepherd Is:

Henry Baker 1868

The King of love my Shepherd is,
Whose goodness faileth never,
I nothing lack if I am His
And He is mine forever.

Where streams of living water flow
My ransomed soul He leadeth,
And where the verdant pastures grow,
With food celestial feedeth.

Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,
But yet in love He sought me,
And on His shoulder gently laid,
And home, rejoicing, brought me.

In death’s dark vale I fear no ill
With Thee, dear Lord, beside me;
Thy rod and staff my comfort still,
Thy cross before to guide me.

Thou spread’st a table in my sight;
Thy unction grace bestoweth;
And O what transport of delight
From Thy pure chalice floweth!

And so through all the length of days
Thy goodness faileth never;
Good Shepherd, may I sing Thy praise
Within Thy house forever.

Daniel Liddell (February 8, 1927 – June 14, 2012) 

In this short span of years we define as this life, very few people, should we even be fortunate, will have the kind of impact Daniel Liddell has on numerous persons throughout his earthly sojourn.  Born Daniel Wesley, February 8, 1927 in Chicago, the son of an evangelist preacher, the late Rev. Thomas Liddell and a mother full of hospitality and nurture, Adele Liddell, his early ambitions in life included practicing medicine. Before Dan would pursue his desire to be a physician, he developed his skills as a musician accompanying his father’s singing for evangelistic worship.

Brother to the Rev. PL Liddell, and Jeanne Hansen, Dan answered the call of his nation and served in the US Navy during WWII as a Head Surgical Nurse assisting the Navy’s top neurosurgeon. Dan was one of our heroes, having served from 1941-1945, no doubt helping to save countless wounded service personnel. We owe a debt of gratitude to Dan and all who served and continue to serve our nation.

Although medicine would play a large role in his life, the medical career he dreamed of was not in Dan’s future. Suffering a heart attack during his Medical School training at Michigan State University, Dan’s life soon found a new direction which would guide him for the rest of his life. Being adaptable to his circumstances, Dan could look back at that turn of events with humor, remembering how the commotion of his medical trauma had cancelled the chemistry exam to the great pleasure of the rest of his class.

Building on the musical skills he acquired as a youth, Dan began a lifelong journey of learning, teaching, directing and life changing. Beginning his studies at the first Olivet Nazarene College near Georgetown, IL, Dan moved to the Kankakee-Bourbonnais Area with one of the first truckloads of students after the great Olivet fire and the college’s relocation to ONU’s current location.

After completing his degree in 1950, he pursued his masters degree at the University of IL in Champaign. While he was a student he served the University Place Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the FourSquare Gospel Church. Returning to this area, Dan began work with Olivet and eventually became head of the voice department.

Dan expanded his reach with his talents in radio and on early Television in Chicago. He was proud of his TV Show Favorites with Danny – a live call-in request your favorite hymn and Dan would play and sing your song for you.

The long hours of teaching and performing and commuting took there toll on Dan and he suffered his second heart attack and found himself in the care of Sister Bernadine of St. Mary’s Hospital whom he credited for saving his life.

While he certainly touched the lives of many during his tenure at Olivet, Dan will perhaps be best remembered for his career as the choral director for Kankakee High School. From developing an award winning choir from just 10 students to begin with, to directing musicals, leading two European trips with the People to People program, Dan left a legacy with his high school students and colleagues that stretches across continents and generations.

His former students have remembered him as one of the major influences in their lives (from the Schreffler Funeral Home Guestbook):

  • Dan was her “first voice teacher and made an incredible impact on her life”
  • Mr. Liddell was one of my absolute favorite teachers at Eastridge.
  • we learned not only how to sing in ensemble but to appreciate life and music and to express respect for each other – valuable lessons at a difficult time for most of us in high school in the ’60’s!!!!
  • he helped to form the lives of an entire generation through his love of music
  • What a guiding light Dan Liddell was during those uncertain High School years. Mr Liddell was one of those guiding lights who kept so many, including me, grounded and taught focus and caring for others.
  • There are only a few people outside my immediate family that I can say truly touched, shaped and influenced my life. And Daniel Liddell was one of those few.
  • Your teaching skills were inherent, and your enthusiasm so infectious. You were adored by all (including me), and brought us so much joy. You made us the music makers, the dreamers of dreams…
  • Instilled confidence in you no matter what road you were on.
  • He was a beautiful man and a constant encourager

His passion for music and touching lives reached beyond the high school and graced our community. One of his colleagues said of Dan, this

  • “energizer bunny” served as the vocal music director for many of Kankakee Valley Theatre’s early musicals. Together we moved the audiences of KVT from Civic Auditorium to the stage of Lincoln Cultural Center as we produced MAME to sell-out crowds in 1973. The following years we did, George M, The Music Man, Something’s Afoot, and South Pacific. Dan taught music from his heart and soul! His talent was indeed a gift from God, and the way he used that talent was his gift back to God and all others around him.

Daniel Liddell was a life changer,an  encourager and a champion of the arts for his former students and our community.

While music blessed his life and was in return a blessing for so many more, building relationships to span many years, companionship in life is often the source of strength and support we rely on as we face the challenges of each and every day. Dan’s life was filled with friends, colleagues, caring nieces and nephews, choir members, and parishioners. And for all of these relationships we offer our gratitude this day.

The word Companion is rooted in two ancient words meaning with and bread. So our companions are those with whom we share our bread, a basic and necessary element of our existence.  For more than 50 years, Dan was blessed by the companionship of Ken Bade. Sharing their families, their love for and talents in music, their faith, and their bread, Dan and Ken have been a caring source of strength and support for one another through every turn, struggle, joy, challenge and accomplishment.  And Dan could have not been more blessed to have you, Ken as companion, friend, colleague and partner in music and his life.

Choir Rehearsal at Central 2012

Speaking of sharing Bread. Dan loved to eat, by the way. Hardly a day went by without Dan & Ken breaking bread in the dining room of Blues Café, where they knew everyone, costumer and server alike and you all knew them too. And you their friends and community became an enormous extended family.

Of their partnership in music, one newspaper article compared them to Rogers and Hammerstein.  Our wider community has lost one of member of our dynamic duo of Liddell and Bade.

Dan was a man of deep faith as well and when his teaching career came to a close, he shared his time and his talents with several local congregations, directing church choirs at First Presbyterian Church of Manteno, St. Mark United Methodist Church, helping with the music at Asbury United Methodist Church, and Directing the Choir of Central Christian Church in Bourbonnais where he directed his 180th Chancel Choir rehearsal on Thursday, June 7th.

Dan graced our congregation at Central with his spirited piano playing, his positive attitude, his love of God and Jesus Christ and his ever encouraging and sometimes even demanding style. He was keenly aware of the gifts and graces of any choir he directed and with great enthusiasm was able to motivate his singers to a new level of melody and harmony.

A former pastor of Central said,  What a delight was my friend Dan and what a list of wonderful memories: singing together, sharing in worship at Central Christian, laughing, eating at Blue’s, and being part of his choir, and most of all just enjoying being his friend… his being close as I grieved in personal loss – I first met Dan (and Ken) as an ONU student, oh so many years ago when I was a fledgling singer in Orpheus Choir. There I first admired Dan’s tender spirit, humor, and his beautiful tenor voice that could cling to the tingling high notes… The years have fled quickly, but the love and friendship for my two friends has only grown deeper and more precious. Rev. Dr. Franlkin Garton

And another said, When I think of Dan I remember his unfailing smile, his good humor, his enthusiasm, his love of music, and his desire to enhance that love of music in other people. Rev. Richard Sagarsee

I have been blessed and privileged to be in ministry with Dan and with Ken. Together their unceasing encouragement and care for me has given strength unimaginable. Their patience and adaptability to whatever I brought their way has been amazing. And I was privileged to be with Dan last week as he faced yet another medical challenge. Dan was confident in the Lord and shared his peacefulness with me during our conversations and prayers prior to his surgery last Thursday. It was the graceful way he faced all of life.

Directing the Chancel Choir

“I’ve had the greatest life,” Liddell said contentedly. “Teaching music, if you teach it correctly, you can teach history, languages, mathematics,” he said of his profession.

“So much of success has to do with the work that you are willing to put into it.”
“You can do this, people!”

Paul wrote these words in his second letter to the Corinthians.  Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Amen.


Author: Central Christian Church

Central is a friendly, welcoming, and progressive congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) with roots in the American frontier. An active congregation with opportunities for spiritual formation for children, youth, and adults, we are located just two blocks from Olivet Nazarene University. Our current facility was dedicated to the glory of God in 1986 and is accessible for persons of every ability. Sunday worship blends traditional elements with a relevant presentation of the gospel, including weekly participation in the Lord’s supper where all who believe in Jesus are invited to commune.

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