Christian, Daniel 2/6/1931 - 1/23/2021 Kalamazoo, Michigan A life of song was the song of life for Daniel Katherman Christian, M.D., who died peacefully on Jan. 23, 2021, at age 89 with Jill, his wife of 64 years at his side. Dan's was a long and fulfilling life for which he often expressed gratitude and in his self-effacing way, a little marvel at his good fortune. His compassion, patience, gentleness and resonant baritone touched many lives. Born in Kalamazoo on Feb. 6, 1931 to two educators, Omar Katherman and Emily Gertrude (nee Swanson) Christian, Daniel was the oldest of three children in a household that championed education and learning. His siblings, Mary Ann and Larry, have fond memories of Lake Michigan and Saugatuck, and summers spent in Manton with relatives while their father earned his master's degree in education at Columbia University in New York City. His childhood stories made historic Kalamazoo come alive for his own kids; the day the family horse got loose on what is now Stadium Drive, zipping down West Main Avenue on a wood toboggan, visiting Mursch's ice cream parlor, and going to one of the numerous downtown movie theatres. As a Maroon Giant, Dan made sure to avoid referrals to the office of his father, known as O.K. Christian, who was the Dean of Students in charge of discipline at Kalamazoo Central High School. One of Dan's joys was visiting with Larry ("Ace") and Mary Ann ("Sis") over the years, and singing family favorites with them. Dan was deeply saddened over the loss of his brother, a nuclear physicist whom he always said was the smartest person he ever knew, to a form of dystonia. At age 9, Dan learned the basic principles of singing under Henry Overley, director of St. Luke's Boys Choir, of which Dan was a loyal member for six years, five days a week! He jokingly boasted of his flawless attendance and ability to sustain an "S" sound longest of all the young singers. His first solo performance was at 17 at Simpson Methodist Church, singing "The Prayer Perfect," for which his mother had taught him the diction. (He was a lifelong stickler on enunciation.) While a student at the University of Michigan, Dan changed his undergraduate major from pre-medicine to music. College was interrupted by a four-year stint in the U.S. Air Force in Cheyenne, Wyoming during the Korean War; Dan taught testing and measurements. During this time, he found a fine voice teacher, Marvin Meier, in Fort Collins, Colo., and drove each week the 50 miles for lessons and to sing in funeral services for $10 a song. His first voice recital was attended by nine people in the local public library. He sang the baritone solos in the Brahms' Requiem with the Cheyenne Community Chorus at age 22. After his service, Dan enrolled at Western Michigan University, where he graduated in 1956 with a double major in science and music with Sam Adams as his vocal coach. His senior voice recital was at Kanley Chapel on WMU's campus with his future wife, Jill Joan Johnston, accompanying. The two met in the WMU music school (specifically, in Junior Choral Methods, where Jill sat on the "boys" side to better meet Dan, the campus' "Most Eligible Bachelor"), and had their first date to the beach at Lake Michigan soon after. Dan often remarked that he was instantly struck by Jill's class, enthusiasm, optimism, smile and verve. He soon gifted her with a small china bird to match one of his own; Daphnis and Chloe, named after the two lovers in Debussy's opera. They married on Aug. 11, 1956. Dan received his medical degree from the University of Michigan in 1960; it was during this time that their first daughter, Julie Ann, was born. The young family proceeded to Kalamazoo, for Dan's internship and residency at Bronson Methodist Hospital, where a son, John Porter, was born. They then moved for an internal medicine residency at Northwestern University in Chicago, where their third child, Daniel Swanson, was born. Dan began practice of internal medicine at Bronson in 1964 and two years later, daughter Sue Ellen was born, followed in 1970 by Mary Kathryn (Kate). Dan and Jill's niece, Denise Ann, joined the household for several years, adding to the love and lively pace of the family. Dan was used to arriving home from work to a household full of piano students and kids' friends, and capping off each day practicing for his next vocal performance at the basement piano. Dan retired in 1992. He deeply enjoyed his camaraderie with medical colleagues, nailing down an elusive diagnosis and "a well-paced day in the office seeing friendly patients." Dan soloed with many organizations, including Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago and First United Methodist Church in Kalamazoo, where he and Jill were longtime members. They were particularly appreciative of FUMC's adult Academy Class, the magnificent organ, the warm fellowship and the social justice focus of FUMC, where they volunteered with Justice For Our Neighbors, a faith-driven ministry focused on welcoming immigrants and refugees. Dan was a quiet Christian who best shared his love of God through song. Anyone sitting near him and Jill in the pew on Sunday commented on their musical harmony. Major solos by Dan included the bass arias from Bach's B Minor Mass in Stetson Chapel as part of the Bach Festival, the role of Sharpless in Puccini's "Madame Butterfly" concert version with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, the "Pilgrim's Song" in the fundraiser "Voices for Survival" at Chenery Auditorium, "Five Mystical Songs" with Kalamazoo Singers under the great Thomas Kasdorf, and the Brahms Requiem with the Kalamazoo Oratorio Society. Dan loved tennis – both watching and playing it. His father bought him a $2.29 wood racket and he practiced hitting on the garage door. He played singles for WMU men's tennis team and sure enough, Dan's espousal of tennis as a great lifelong game was true, as he played well into his 80s with his adult children and grandchildren, all of whom he encouraged to learn the game. His weekly men's doubles tennis were a highlight for him for more than 40 years. In retirement, he loved playing tennis with many fine players, including Jack, Bud, Rolla, Dick, Tim, Mike and "Boomer," and having lunch afterward at Treat Street or Nina's Caf, where a tuna sandwich and cup of soup were his standing order. Dan and Jill enjoyed rich friendships with many Kalamazoo friends, many of whom also enjoyed the beauty of Lake Michigan at Port Sheldon, where he and Jill had a family cottage and spent many memorable evenings enjoying sunsets and singing around the bonfire. As a couple, they traveled, attended U of M football games and rang in many a new year with their dear friends. A singular friendship for both Dan and Jill was that of Joan C. Conway, professor of music at Hope College, frequent accompanist for Dan's solo work, giver of family nicknames and valued adviser. Joan was a collaborator on Dan's recording of vocal selections for "A Musical Prescription" a CD for family, friends and patients. Seldom could you be in Dan's presence for long that you didn't hear him whistle, hum, or, best of all, sing. "Hail to the Victors", "I Get the Blues When it Rains", and "I'll Be Loving You Always" were his casual favorites when puttering around the house he and Jill built at Pretty Lake in Mattawan, where they lived in retirement. A cherished evening ritual was sipping a scotch and water while sitting in a rocker listening to Jill play pieces on her Mason and Hamlin. As much as he loved his patients, Dan welcomed leaving the stress of modern, fast-paced medicine. He loved attending grandchildren's events and often remarked how proud he was of his kids and their offspring. He also easily admitted his faults, saying he wished he hadn't taken himself so seriously, was better at living for the moment, and didn't "sweat the small stuff" but resolved conflicts promptly. He often shared this advice with family members, along with his wonderful sense of humor, which stayed with him to his last days. Indicative of their longtime partnership, Dan accompanied Jill to a memory care facility in Jenison, Mich., where he lived with her as her helpmate and constant companion before his passing. He left many recordings and one favorite has lyrics that are a fitting coda to his 89 years: I tell you, they have not died, They live and breathe with you. They walk now, here at your side, They tell you things are true-- They live, they know, they see, They shout with every breath, "All is Eternal Life, There is no death!" Dan died after being infected with Covid-19. The family extends their gratitude to the devoted staff at Waterford Place Memory Care for their care and love. Dan is preceded in death by his brother, Larry, and is survived by his wife, Jill, his five children, Julie (Bob) Bender, John (Elizabeth) Christian, Daniel (Leslie) Christian, Sue Ellen (Bob) Isacksen, and Kate Christian; his only sister, Mary Ann Cunningham; 13 grand-children; 1 great-grandchild; cousin Wanda Hendrickson; and numerous nieces and nephews. A memorial concert with music selected by Dan will be held once vaccines are widely in use. Donations should be given in lieu of flowers to Justice for Our Neighbors at https://www.umc-kzo.org/JFON (see the donation link on the webpage).