THE TITLE was never official, but Joseph B. Danzansky was a Washington City Father if we've ever known one. Even in the last hours before his death yesterday at the age of 65, Mr. Danzansky was doing what he loved best -- promoting his native city as if it were his firstborn. On this occasion it was as a leader in the development of Pennsylvania Avenue, at a meeting he began with his characteristic exuberance; but in the many days and years before this meeting, it was as a civic cheerleader and financial big-heart in every corner of the community.
New arrivals to this city may not realize the significance, years back, of Mr. Danzansky's all-embracing love for the city and its people. But it still holds special meaning for those whose lives were once made very uncomfortable -- financially, racially, socially -- in a segrated town. His tall frame and broad grin stood out at countless civic gatherings -- from basements to board rooms, from sports events to -- yes -- civic disorders, leaning forward to understand and then to assist.
In business as in community service, Mr. Danzansky went to extra lengths to include all people. His extraordinary success as a businessman not only was good for the economic health of the city, but demonstrated the strength of a concerned partnership of local business interests and the people they serve. This philosophy, coupled with the worthy causes to which he gave time and money, was instrumental in breaking down racial barriers and introducing two "Washingtons" to each other. So it was that the Metropolitan Washington Board of Trade began to be transformed from a tight, club of frightened businessmen headed for suburbia into a group starting to reach out and rebuild after the disorders of the 1960s.
Baseball. Banking. The United Way. Giant. WETA. The Jewish Community. Every District commissioner and the two elected mayors. The list of causes and activities and awards is vast. Working for Washington, committing himself to its prosperity, solidarity and general welfare -- that was what Joe Danzansky was all about all the time. He can't be replaced.