I met Henry last December and enjoyed New Year’s Eve with him, family and friends in the depth of a Redwood forest in northern California. Those treasured memories will be with me forever.
As his obituary states, Henry Dakin was a truly humble man. Many of his friends did not know the full extent of his contributions to others and to society until they read his obituary or attended his memorial service in San Francisco last weekend.
I am writing about him here on Thought Leaders because, to me, Henry Dakin encapsulates many or maybe all of the qualities that make a great leader in the era in which we now live: innovation, creativity, intelligence, curiosity, compassion, conscience, generosity of spirit, belief in others, awareness of our relationship with the environment, strength of character and a moral compass.
He created a wonderful legacy and his inspirational spirit will be felt for a long time to come. I feel blessed that I met him and can introduce you to him today.
Henry Saltonstall Dakin 1936 – 2010
Henry Dakin died peacefully at home surrounded by family in Ukiah, California on August 25th at age 73.
A fourth generation Californian, Henry helped creative individuals realize their uncommon dreams by sharing his skills and resources to support their innovative for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. His boundless curiosity, indefatigable industry and selfless service inspired countless people. He leaves a prodigious and enduring legacy of visionary philanthropy, humility, kindness, and immense generosity.
Henry grew up in Pasadena, California, and graduated from Harvard University in 1958. During the 1960’s, he did research in health physics at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and designed a pocket radiation detector that is still in use today.
Devastating tragedy befell him in 1966 when he lost seven family members in a plane crash, among them his father Richard and brother Roger, who founded the Dakin Toy Company. During the 1970s, Henry’s protean interests in consciousness, parapsychology, computer technology, and environmental conservation generated leading-edge projects at his Washington Street offices in Pacific Heights in San Francisco. His love of printing led him to explore early innovations in desktop publishing and many other publishing ventures: he wrote a book on Kirlian photography, published religious documents smuggled from Soviet political prisons in the “Samizdat Bulletin” and a major guide to doing business in Moscow. Henry’s deep concern over the escalating arms race grew in the 1980s, and resulted in his increasing support to many activist groups that were pioneering novel forms of citizen diplomacy such as Esalen’s Soviet-American Exchange Program. Ever-expanding activities required more space, so Henry transformed an auto-body shop at 3220 Sacramento Street into a unique office complex, multi-media and cultural networking center for citizen activists to hold public and private events.
Over the decades, Henry incubated an astonishing number and variety of fledgling non-profit groups, providing them with technical support, funding, and office and living space. Some are now well-established groups such as Internews, United Nations Association of San Francisco, Institute for Global Communications, Presidio Alliance, San Francisco Global Business Council, Association for Space Explorers, Link TV, and Bioneers.
Self-effacing, Henry shunned publicity, yet was a truly remarkable cultural ambassador, peacemaker, and global communications pioneer. >>>>
TO READ THE COMPLETE OBITUARY GO TO Henry Dakin’s Obituary by San Francisco Chronicle