remembering Dan Sachs

A monumental stone building remains long beyond the form of its namer’s dust. But the fragile, decaying matter of human lives, connected in ordinary ways, prevails. Not merely prevails, but grows.

Daniel M. Sachs, Princeton Class of 1960, was a mighty footballer and a top-honors student. He attended Worcester College, Oxford, on a Rhodes Scholarship, and then Harvard Law School, and then married and had a daughter. At age 28, he died of cancer.

At his death about forty years ago, Dan Sachs’ friends and classmates established a fund to support Dan’s family. They provided that, if Dan’s family’s needs were met, remaining funds would be for a scholarship in Dan’s name. Thus the Daniel M. Sachs Class of 1960 Graduating Scholarship arose.

To Charles and Emily Gillispie, thank you for so carefully remembering Dan Sachs.

6 thoughts on “remembering Dan Sachs”

  1. THANK YOU DOUG. I’m so glad you took the time, and imagination, to preserve this moment in time. It might be instructive to show to seniors who gather to find out about the scholarship.

  2. This is a personal remembrance of Dan Sachs. When my father (Lawrence Reilley ’35) died in 1957 from cancer, Dan became a “Big Brother” to my brother (Alan-8) & me (5).
    Dan was there for us at our time of bewilderment & loneliness. He spent a lot of time at our home, played sports with my brother & gave me a 3′ football player doll I promptly named Dan Sachs.
    Dan filled a huge void in our young lives. I, for one, will never forget him. His caring set an example for me that I have lived by & instilled in my own daughter.
    The world definitely needs more people like Dan Sachs in it

  3. Bravo to all concerned. Dan Sachs was a hero of mine as a result of my being ill in the late fall of my seventh-grade year (1957–58) and listening while I lay in bed to what I believe was the Princeton-Dartmouth game. Those who know his athletic career better than I will know what game it was.

    My father had graduated from Princeton, and so of course I was rooting for the Tigers. Furthermore,I had feared and despised Dartmouth—probably unfairly—for years because my mother had told me five or six years earlier that Dartmouth players had broken the great Dick Kazmaier’s nose—deliberately, she implied, or at least I inferred—in the final game of his senior year; and I had labored under the impression for those five or six years not only that a broken nose was quite a serious injury, comparable perhaps to a broken leg, but also that Princeton had lost the game because Kazmaier had been unable to play after his injury. (I was to be happily surprised, even shocked, years later when as a Princeton student myself I learned that the Tigers and Kazmaier had actually won that game.)

    But that day in 1957 I had little confidence that Princeton could prevail over what I perceived as the coldly ruthless Big Green (or Indians, as they were then still nicknamed). With spirits already low because of my illness (which may have been pneumonia), I was further depressed to hear that the game was being played in a snowstorm. Snow, I reasoned, had to favor the team from New Hampshire. Indeed, for a while that reasoning seemed borne out.

    And then my wondering ears heard the reports of a player named Dan Sachs running wild. My memory of what the play-by-play man said may well be exaggerated, but it’s possible that Sachs ran for a touchdown, passed for another, intercepted a pass for another, and returned a punt for yet another. In any case, he had a stunningly successful game and in the process not only boosted my spirits (and quite likely my immune system) at least to the ceiling of my bedroom but also caused me to believe that good guys could prevail over bad guys, could settle longstanding scores and avenge earlier wrongs, and could restore justice to the field of play. (Remember, I was a seventh grader running a high fever.)

    I’ve been thankful to Dan Sachs ever since. Thanks to all concerned for producing this video and allowing me to learn a great deal about this remarkable man.

    One small improvement could, I hope, still be made to the video: the correction of one of the closing titles from “Sach’s” to “Sachs’s.”

    1. Thanks for your fascinating comment. For unfortunate technical reasons, correcting the closing title isn’t easy. I apologize for my error and regret that it detracts from the video.

  4. Thank you Doug, for establishing this site.

    I just found it this evening when a random thought ran through my brain, re how many touchdowns did Dan Sachs score in the Princeton-Dartmouth game? The answer, from other web pages, is that he passed for one, then ran for three.

    I had that thought in connection to my grandfather, William Abbotts ’11, who was probably the most positive influence in my young life. His father had emigrated from the UK to the US, and landed a job as a postman, a favored position then because it was civil service. My grandfather went to Trenton High School, and a teacher there took an interest in him, tutoring him in Latin and Greek, then required for entry into elite universities. My grandfather got into Princeton, the elite university with the lowest travel costs for him. Even then, he was one of the few public school graduates to attend Princeton at that time, and decades later would tell his classmates that he was “too poor” to join an Eating Club.

    Because law school was out of his reach financially, he “read for the law,” clerking for an established lawyer until he could pass the Bar Exam and set up his own practice. He became a successful real estate lawyer, often referred to Princeton as “the best old place of all,” sent two of his sons through Princeton, and encouraged his grandchildren to attend as well.

    Part of his efforts included taking some of those grandchildren to Princeton sporting events. 1957 was the year of Sputnik, and also the battle between Dartmouth and Princeton for the Ivy title. I remember our seats were in the end zone, because Dan ran at least one touchdown straight toward us through the falling snow, and I remember the Cannon going off in celebration.

    I still recall that image, because it solidified my desire to do well in school so I could get into Princeton.
    I read Dan’s obituary when I was still in college, and just found it reprinted at

    Thanks to my grandfather, other Princeton athletes were also inspirations, including Bill Bradley ’65, whom I saw play on television and in Dillon Gym when I was in high school. While at Princeton, I took a course in the History of Science from Charles Gillispie, who I see became one of the advisors to the Dan Sachs Trust.

    But that game in 1957 may have been the first time I set a goal of going to Princeton, thanks to my grandfather, along with Dan Sachs.
    I offer this memory as a tribute to each of them.

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