In Memoriam: Dan Bancroft, Board President

Jan 22, 2023 | From the Director, News

Library staff and trustees were shocked and profoundly saddened by the sudden and tragic loss of our Board President, Dan Bancroft.

While word continues to spread throughout the community, I wanted to take a moment to share a few thoughts on Dan’s impact on the library.

As his wife Anne recently relayed, the first thing Dan did after they signed papers on their new home…was to get a library card. That was five years ago, and after 40+ years as a trial attorney, Dan and his wife were retiring to their new home of York. Not one to rest on his laurels, he wasted no time jumping into the community. With both feet.

Dan joined the library’s Board of Trustees in September 2020 and he did not waste a moment rolling up his sleeves. At this point in time, the library, the community – the whole world, really – was struggling in the aftermath of lockdowns and learning to live with – and in – a new normal.

By June of the following year, he was elected unanimously as our new Board President, a post he held until his death. Dan was an enthusiastic supporter of libraries and none more than the library of his new, adopted home. He whole-heartedly believed in our mission and vision: to promote democracy by ensuring freedom of access to information for all, to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas, to advance learning, and inspire creativity.

As news of his death spread and library staff, trustees, and patrons spoke of his loss, the word that kept reappearing in nearly every conversation was “kind.” Dan was truly one of the kindest men I have ever met. He was generous with his time, thoughtful in his responses, intellectually curious, humble.

He also had a proclivity for random acts of kindness.

When a new trustee was recovering from surgery: “I barely knew him,” she said, “and yet here he was checking in on me and dropping off food.”

A staff member recalled admiring a pen Dan used to sign paperwork. Several days later, she emailed him to ask about it. The following week, he returned to her office with a pen of her own, wrapped with a bow. “He made my week, as pen lovers will understand,” she said. “He made me feel valued and appreciated.”

The same week he passed away, Dan sent a notecard to each Board member for no reason other than to express how much he enjoyed working with them and his appreciation for their dedication and contributions to the Board. Most found them in their mailboxes a few days after his death.

Dan frequently popped into the library, and though he could have simply dropped it off, he took the time to write and mail a note of encouragement when he knew I was going through a tough time.

On a much lighter note, he dinged me on every contraction I ever used because he thought they were “lazy.” You will find no contractions herein, dear reader.

In appreciation for Dan’s dedication to the Library, in a nod to his passion for libraries, and in recognition of his involvement in the community, York Public Library is honored to host a Celebration of Dan’s Life on Saturday, January 28 at 3pm. This event will be open to all.

Among his other talents, Dan was an accomplished playwright. It seems only fitting to end with these words from Thornton Wilder’s Our Town:

“Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? – every, every minute?…. It goes so fast.”

We will miss you, Dan.


On behalf of Library staff and Board of Trustees,

Michelle Sampson
Executive Director