Danny's Passing

We are very saddened to say that on the evening of March 22, 2009 Danny Carlson passed away due to a massive stroke. All indications are that he died quickly, with very little suffering.

Danny is an amazing person who touched many people's lives. We want this website to help connect all the incredible people in Danny's life, to share information with you on how we plan to honor him, and provide a place for us all to share thoughts, prayers and memories of Danny.

The memorial service was held on Saturday, March 28th in Colorado near Danny's home town. You can share stories about Danny here.

Sunday, March 11, 2012



You always made everything better.
The world is lost without you.
A little cloudier without you.
The shades of the color wheel unite.
They somehow aren't as bright, without you.
We are all following the same path.
Baby steps to huge leaping bounds.
Smiling faces to desolate frowns.
Squirming worms at the end of a hook.
To a new born child waiting to sneak their very first look.
What they see, although filled with amaze and wonder...
Somehow looses some of it's thunder, without you.

You are still always in my heart.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

When Great Trees Fall

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed."

— Maya Angelou

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Birthday Poem by Lori


It was a beautiful day,
the day you were born.
And on this day we can't help but to mourn,
not your birth but the life that has passed.
The ashes we spread growing tall in the grass.
Our beautiful memories are sung by the birds,
so expansive and endless they can't be spoken with words.
The waves on the shore are bringing you home.
Every day that the sunlight falls,
we are one step closer to where you are.
The clear blue skies echo the patience in your eyes.
They remind me of a day that is never cloudy and never gray.
It was not death that you feared,
only a life chased down with the falling of tears.
For this reason we will celebrate the day,
knowing that when we think of you, you are never far away.
As my life scrambles forward,
parts of me shed on the path.
I know the things that are sure to last.
With these things you will always remain,
it is the part of me removed from pain.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Danny's Continuing Journey

We're very lucky to have friends and family who have helped Danny continue in his journey.  They've shared pictures and stories about the different ways they have spread Danny's ashes, from Colorado to Europe to Southeast Asia.  Our sincere thanks to everyone who has let us be a part of these celebrations of Danny.

Danny at Red Rocks
Danny in Durango
Danny in Europe and Thailand
Danny in Germany
Danny at Crater Lake

Danny at Red Rocks

Brian Tohill, one of Danny's closest friends and a many-time Red Rocks concert companion, came up with a great way to celebrate with Danny for a little while longer.  Brian placed some of Danny's ashes in an urn in a hidden place near Red Rocks amphitheater. In Brian's words:

"I built the urn out of clay and wood (clay for me, and wood for Danny) both quite ephemeral materials.  But built together as a pyramid for everlasting strength, mainly in Danny, but also in our friendship.  My hope is that it will last through just one more summer in the place where we had so many great experiences, and Danny will get to witness a few more great shows."

More pictures can be seen here.

Danny in Durango

Torrey organized an event in Durango to spread some of Danny's ashes in one of his favorite places.  In Torrey's words:

"On a beautiful Sunday in August, a group of good friends gathered in Durango to celebrate the life of Danny.  Since Danny was such a fun loving person, we decided that we would have a fun filled day in his memory.

We began the day at el Rancho, one of the finest dive bars in Durango, for bloody maries, shots of beam, and breakfast from the Durango diner.  At around noon we headed up the Animas valley to Baker’s bridge, an amazing spot on the Animas River where Danny spent many a fun day with friends.  At Baker’s we did some cliff jumping, rope swinging, beer drinking and lounging in the afternoon sun.  Then, before departing, we poured some of Danny’s ashes off of the tallest cliff into the river, and all jumped off of the cliff with him in unison.

Next, we moved down into town for some tubing.  We poured the last of Danny’s ashes into the river, and floated down with them in a large group.  The weather couldn’t have been better; there was not a cloud in the sky the entire day.  In the evening, we moved up to David Sheppard’s house in Edgemont ranch, a place where Danny lived for awhile while doing some beautiful finish carpentry in the basement.  We had a barbeque, a keg of good beer and some good times, before breaking out instruments and playing music until late into the night.

All in all it was a great, fun filled summer day that Danny would have truly enjoyed."

Danny in Europe and Thailand

Danny's close friends from Durango, Mike and Ashley Thoma, spread some of Danny's ashes in Germany, France and Thailand. We're very lucky that they were able to do this, and we're thankful that we get the opportunity to share in these stories with them.

The Facebook photo album is here, with great comments from Mike and Ashley.

If you don't have a Facebook account, the pictures can also be seen here.

Danny in Germany

Our family friend, Rita Randle, very graciously took some of Danny's ashes to Germany and an island near Crete.  Danny spoke German and studied there for a year during college.  We're very grateful to Rita for helping to take some of Danny's ashes to Germany.

Many more pictures can be seen here.

Danny at Crater Lake

Danny and I went to Crater Lake in 1997, on a fishing / road trip from San Francisco to Oregon.  My wife and I spread some of Danny's ashes there in September:

More pictures can be seen here.

 - Ryan

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Laying Danny to Rest

Everyone is figuring out how to say goodbye to Danny. It's the hardest thing many of us will ever do but it's necessary and, eventually, it's also helpful. We wanted to share a couple of ways in which some of us gathered again to celebrate Danny and lay him to rest.

On June 7th a group of friends and family met in the mountains of Colorado to scatter some of Danny's ashes. We found a spot on a river near the base of Mt. Princeton, a fourteener which Danny had climbed with Lori.

"Danny's spot" is part of a wild and scenic restoration area above Cottonwood Lake outside Buena Vista, CO.

Each of us scattered some of Danny's ashes and said a few words about him and what he meant to us. All of the pictures can be seen here.

Earlier that week a few family members gathered at a small cemetery near my Dad's ranch east of Kiowa. We buried some of Danny's ashes in a plot there, in an urn made by Andy.

More pictures from that day can be seen here.

Later that week Andy and I drove to Wyoming to scatter some of Danny's ashes on a favorite river - the last fishing trip my brothers, my dad and I all took together was on this river exactly a year ago.

The first time we fished this river almost 10 years ago Danny called this hole "The Green Mile" and the name stuck. We fished it every year for almost ten years and Danny always went straight for the Green Mile.

Andy and I scattered some of Danny's ashes on the Green Mile:

and some more pictures are here.

A week later Lori scattered some of Danny's ashes in many spots that were special to both of them. We're so glad she got the chance to do this, and we thank her for it.

And we're not done: in the coming weeks and months Danny will make his way to Durango, Red Rocks, Northern California, and even Germany. We'll post more photos and stories of these celebrations as they happen. Thanks to everyone for continuing to stay in touch and for helping us remember Danny.

- Ryan

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Peace Corps Donations

It looks like we've raised $4,000 for the Peace Corps in honor of Danny's memory. This is tremendous and I know it is something for which Danny would be very grateful. Thanks to everyone who has donated (unfortunately we can't thank you individually as the donations are anonymous).

For anyone else who would like to make a contribution you can donate through their website here
or you can call their office at 202.692.2170. You can ask to speak to Robert O'Neill.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Danny's Toast, and Mexico

My wife and I got married on April 1st, 2007, and my brothers Andy and Danny were my co-best men. Our wedding was in a small fishing village in Mexico and Danny was one of the first to arrive and one of the last to leave. Of course Danny being Danny, he didn't try to rent a room until he got there and ended up sleeping on the beach the first couple of nights. The morning tide brought waves that woke him earlier than he planned; the second night he slept further away from the ocean.

The day of our wedding Andy lost his voice (!) and Danny gave the toast at our ceremony (Andy gave us his written speech and it was incredible). It's been hard for me to watch the video until recently, but I now can and I wanted to share it here. Danny did an amazing job.

- Ryan

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Fishing with Danny

When I first moved to San Francisco 12 years ago, Danny flew out with his fly rod in hand to help me explore northern California fishing. We drove more than we fished, we listened to Blues Traveler, and we talked for hours.

This weekend I retraced some of our steps near McCloud, CA. I fished some of the same waters that Danny and I had tried. I caught fewer fish, but that's become the norm for me these days.

I often mourn the things that Danny no longer has the chance to do; everything around me is something that I know he would have loved to do or see, if only he had the chance.

But what helps is knowing that Danny experienced so much in his 27 years, more than most people do in twice as many years of their own. Going back over our road trip from 12 years ago reminds me of this, and I'm thankful that I got to take that journey with him.

- Ryan

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Danny's light

Everyone talks about the light that shone around Danny and how it always made them happy. Our cousin Megan captured that light in a great picture, and we thank her for sharing it here:

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Happy Birthday Baby 4/4/09 (a birthday poem by Lori)

Happy Birthday Baby,
today is your day.
Freezing ice, blowing snow,
you always get your way.
The world stops in motion,
nailed to the ground.
My tears for you freeze on my cheaks,
they never make it down.
Your destiny is not forgotten,
it manifests in my heart.
What seems the road to nowhere,
is only where it starts.
Your loving breath within me,
gets me out of bed.
The moments we shared together,
swimming in my head.
Today I'll take off my uniform,
as you had advised.
And remember the love you gave me,
screaming in your eyes.
Memories rise and memories fall,
candlelight flickers against the wall.
The mountains you climbed were much like your love,
allowing me to gaze at the clouds,
and somehow ascend above.
You taught me more than you could know,
freezing ice and blowing snow.

Love Always,
Lori Fisher

Happy Birthday

Happy birthday Danny boy... we're all here together, celebrating you.

We miss you. We love you.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Memories of Danny

I met Danny about 5 years ago when I started dating Brian. He was an intense person, with a unique personality that grew on me. I always knew that Danny thought of me as an individual, as Leah, not just Brian's girlfriend. He drew me in (as I'm sure he did many others) and I drew him in in return. He made it impossible to hold him at a distance. We had a lot of great times of the few short years that I've known him. Although, I think he and Brian made me age double time when they got together.

This is a cigarette tin that Danny got while we were in Mexico. He left one night saying he was going into Playa del Carmen alone. Brian asked him to stay with us (knowing full well that no amount of convincing would make him change his mind). I know it can be difficult to imagine Danny being stubborn.

Danny arrived back at the resort early the next morning as we were waking up. He told us he went to a bar and was hanging out with this band that was playing there. They were short a member so he sat in and played with the band (badly he noted). He spent the night talking with them and other people he met. One of the band members gave Danny the rest of his cigarettes that came in this tin with the beautiful graphic on it. He left it sitting on one of the dressers as we were checking out so I grabbed it for him and packed it in one of my bags.

We had an amazing time in Mexico, the three of us, one that I will never forget. Trips like these will never be the same without him. I love him and I miss him terribly.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A poem by Danny (thanks to Lori for sharing)

Manifest Destiny
Written by: Daniel Carlson, 2006

When I close my eyes I see forever.
What a beautiful sight.

To materialize my vision I'll do whatever.
I'll fight against fight.

Worrisome things like miles and words along the way
may arise.

But these pose a mere inch-high hurdle before
our adventurous enterprise.

It's hard to imagine what we wouldn't do
to stay light-years from apart.

Setting out to create the life we've always wanted
a Manifest Destiny of the Heart.

Monday, March 30, 2009

My Little Brother

Dear Danny,

Do you know how much I loved you? You were the toe headed angel that filled my days with laughter and spirit. Your funny smile and goofy antics would light up my days. So many times I treated you as though you were in the way, too busy to bother with you. When I did give you my time, you were always so happy even if it was just to put make up on your little face.

You grew into a man and most of the time I was in awe of your presence. Your friends and extended family are amazing people and I understand why you loved them so much. They loved you for many of the qualities that we loved you for. I think now that you lived many lifetimes in your short time here and I am so thankful that you did not listen to a word I had to say. The wildness of your spirit was not something that I got to see much. The side that you liked to show me was the quiet, thoughtful and understanding Danny that I will miss so much.

Your passing has left a hole in me that I know will never be filled. But your gift to me is tolerance in what I don't understand and the lesson that I should embrace that which I don't fully comprehend.

Adios my little brother, and thank you for the gifts. I look forward to seeing again someday.

Your big sis, Julie

Sunday, March 29, 2009

My Brother

I know many of you here but no one who knew Danny could ever claim to know all of the people in his life. For those I haven’t met, my name is Ryan and I am Danny’s oldest brother.

My brothers and I learned fishing from our father, and it was something we mostly did together. But fishing was more than just a hobby; fishing allowed us to talk to each other (we Carlson men perhaps aren’t the best at talking openly about feelings). The often asked: “have you been fishing lately?” is code for “how are you doing, really?” And when we say: “we need to going fishing soon” instead we mean: “I miss you; I need to see you”. Every time I talked to Danny he would end by telling me we needed to go fishing soon.

There are so many stories I want to tell about Danny. Since he left us I’ve had an overwhelming urge to stop people I don’t know, to grab them, and to tell them about my little brother. I’d like to tell you a couple of stories about Danny now.

One spring 20 years ago we were camped at a lake in western Colorado, fishing for rainbow trout. Danny had naturally gone off on his own to find adventure and was nowhere to be found. It was well past dark and he was 7 years old. As we set out to look for him, Danny walked into camp with a giant smile and a story to tell. He simply couldn’t understand why we had been worried. “Guys, what’s the big deal? I was just fishing.” Of course we were fools for thinking that Danny ever needed us to watch over him, even then.

One of Danny’s favorite bands was Blues Traveler – he loved them. He never missed a Red Rocks show, and he and his friends would see them every chance they got. One December when I was in college Danny called me and asked me if I wanted to go to a Blues Traveler concert with him, just the two of us [I was reminded later that Brian Tohill was with us too - I don't know how I could have forgotten this]. This was way out of the ordinary but I was flattered and said sure, of course I’d love to go. I thought the show was sold out but Danny told me not to worry, he’d get us tickets. When I picked him up for the show he asked me to pop the trunk and he proceeded to load a wheelchair into the back of my car. It turns out the show was sold out, but Danny found out there were some handicap tickets left. He bought the tickets, rented a wheelchair, and called me. I wheeled him around that show and I can’t tell you how many people came up to us and said how cool it was that we were there together.

My sister got married when Danny was 15. One great thing about this is that today I get to show everyone a picture of Danny wearing a cowboy hat, which I’m sure he would appreciate. You can tell by the look on his face how much he enjoyed it. It was always easy to notice Danny’s ears, but this time I want to point them out for their conspicuous lack of any rings.

I love this next picture for a couple of reasons. The look on my sister Julie’s face when dancing with Danny is priceless, and it’s the look people usually had when Danny was putting on the charm. But I also have to point out that Danny is now sporting his trademark earrings, which were explicitly not allowed to make an appearance at the wedding. He made a dash to the bathroom to put them on before the reception started. No one could ever keep Danny from being who he wanted to be.

I got to see Danny make his friends in their early years, when they first began to terrorize the streets of Parker. Brian, Jeremy, Nate, Mikey and others teamed up with Danny to make quite a crew. The shenanigans these kids got into were legendary, and we certainly don’t have time to cover them here (nor can we show any pictures). But their relationship is one that I envied for its longevity and for its strength, and it highlighted one of Danny’s truly great qualities – his loyalty to his friends was fierce and unmatched. They all remained close throughout the years, they’re with us here today, and I’m proud to see the great men each of them grew to become alongside Danny. Who could ever have guessed.

Each member of our family had a special bond with Danny; to me he was my little buddy, someone who would do anything with me. I can’t tell you how many movies I dragged Danny to when he was a kid.
Just two weeks ago over dinner in San Francisco Danny and I had an hours long talk about our brother Andy, and I realized Danny was close to Andy in a way that few others ever will be. Danny loved Andy so much.

And Danny supported his mom like no other. Only yesterday I heard the story about Danny taking our mom to his friend’s wedding; at the end of his wedding toast, microphone in hand, Danny got down on his knee and kissed his mom’s hand and told everyone how much he loved her.

It’s clear that everyone in our family viewed their relationship with Danny as unique among the others. I’ve only recently come to realize that this is simply how Danny made everyone feel, everyone he met. Seeing all of you here today and hearing about Danny’s effect on you has only reinforced this – Danny had a rare and special ability to connect with each of us on a personal level, to make us feel like our relationship with him was genuine and sincere. And it truly was.

Just 3 days before he passed away, Danny spent the morning with my wife Melissa (whom he always called Michelle as a 4-year running joke). He brought her coffee and breakfast, and made her laugh easily and often just like he did with everyone. He told her about fishing. He confided in her that, to be honest, for him fishing wasn’t about catching the biggest fish, or catching the first or catching the most. In fact, catching fish wasn’t necessarily why he was even there. He said Andy always caught all the fish anyway. Instead he told her that fishing let him spend time with his Dad and with his brothers, and that was the real reason he tried to never miss a trip.

Danny’s legacy is that his ability to inspire and befriend so many people, people from all the different and wonderful parts of his life, brought us here together today. We likely would never have met each other without Danny, and we should be grateful he gave us this chance.

So stop people you don’t know, grab them, and tell them your stories about our amazing friend Danny. It is certain to make you laugh, it helps us remember him, and more than anything I know it would make Danny smile that smile that we all love and that we all will miss so much.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Pictures of Danny

Danny's 24th birthday. We were moving the next day and only had paper plates, brownie mix, a lighter and our son Niko's sippy cups to use as shot glasses to toast to Danny's birthday. As always with Danny's carefree and easy going personality he loved the simplicity of this.

Danny and Micha's college graduation party

Danny was our oldest friend Mike and I had met together. It meant so much to us that Danny said a toast at our wedding. We will never forget his funny, and heartwarming toast.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Great Memories

We were so blessed to have been able to know Danny for the past 9 years. These were some of our first memories with Danny on a road trip we took together to Mexico in 2002. We will never forget our Cheeseburger in Paradise hotel room and the memories we made on this trip. We will miss you Danny. Love, Mike and Ashley Thoma

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fellow Traveler

Our last trip to Mexico. Danny, Leah and I finally got that spring break. He always found the most exciting ways to get there, and get lost there. It'll never be the same place without such a bold companion.

An email....


'If tomorrow starts without me,

And I'm not there to see,
If the sun should rise and find your
eyes all filled with tears for me;

I wish so much you
wouldn't cry the way you did today ,
While thinking of the many things,
We didn't get to say.

I know how much you
love me, As much as I love you,
And each time that you think of me,
I know you'll miss me too;

But when tomorrow starts without me,
Please try to understand, that an
angel came and called my name,
And took me by the hand,

And said my place was ready,

In heaven far above,
And that I'd have to leave behind
All those I dearly love.

But as I turned to walk away,
A tear fell from my eye,
For all my life, I'd always thought,
I didn't want to die.

I had so much to live for,
So much left yet to do,
It seemed almost impossible,
That I was leaving you.

I thought of all the yesterdays,
The good ones and the bad,
I thought of all that we shared,
And all the fun we had.

If I could relive yesterday,
Just even for a while,
I'd say good-bye and kiss you
And maybe see you smile.

But then I fully realized,
That this could never be,
For emptiness and memories,
Would take the place of me.

And when I thought of worldly things,
I might miss some tomorrow,
I thought of you, and when I did,
My heart was filled with sorrow.

But when I walked through
heaven's gates, I felt so much at home.
When God looked down and smiled at me,
From His great golden throne,

He said, 'This is eternity,
And all I've promised you.'
Today your life on earth is past,
But here life starts anew.

I promise no tomorrow,
But today will always last,
And since each day is the same way,
There's no longing for the past.

So when tomorrow starts without me,
don't think we're far apart,
For every time you think of me,
I'm right here, in your heart '

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Danny Sandwich

Great video - thanks to Benjamin Diem for sharing: