Oct. 15, 1946 – Jan. 27, 2018
K. Daniel Dahl acquired his love of the German language from his German-born grandmother, who spoke it to him when he was a child.
That interest was deepened by his father, a World War II veteran who fought in Europe.
Mr. Dahl majored in German and science education at SUNY Fredonia. He spent a semester abroad at the University of Hanover in Germany. Before he came home, he hitchhiked across Germany, visiting historic sites.
During his years as a middle school science teacher in the Williamsville Central School District, he also translated numerous military history books from German to English. The best known is Ludwig Baer’s “The History of the German Steel Helmet, 1916-1945.” Esteemed among collectors, it was published in the U.S. in 1985.
Mr. Dahl died Jan. 27 in Garden Gate Health Care Facility, Cheektowaga, after a lengthy illness. He was 71.
Born Kenneth Daniel Dahl Jr. in North Tonawanda, he always preferred his middle name. Under his senior class picture in the 1964 Tonawanda High School yearbook, he is simply Daniel Dahl.
After earning his degree at Fredonia, he went on to complete a master’s degree at Buffalo State College and took graduate courses at the University at Buffalo.
He taught science for a year at Williamsville’s Heim Middle School, then spent the rest of his 32-year career at Mill Middle School, where he was an adviser to the Collectors Club and coached students for the Science Olympiad. He retired in 2001.
“My science lessons are better because of him,” said his daughter, Kristin Longhouse, a second grade teacher at John A. Scioli Elementary School in Lancaster. “He was better than any course I took.”
He also taught summer school and supervised a succession of student teachers.
“Many of his student teachers ended up getting jobs in Williamsville because of him,” his daughter said. “One of them now is principal of Mill Middle School.”
Mr. Dahl wrote and evaluated eighth grade Regents Competency Tests for the State Education Department. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, he was an environmental research analyst for Syracuse University on soil studies at Love Canal. He also taught German for the U.S. Coast Guard in the Town of Tonawanda.
For many years, he was a member of the City of Tonawanda Emergency Corps, which assists the city’s police and fire departments.
An accomplished black-and-white photographer, he maintained a darkroom in the basement of his West Seneca home, took passport photos and exhibited his work locally.
In retirement, he designed and built sets for his daughter’s school musicals.
His thirst for knowledge led him to search for fossils and teach himself Polish and Russian. His family vacations often involved exploring battlefields from the Civil War and World War II.
Aware of his first name, his middle school students decorated his classroom door with Barbie Doll images after he married the former Barbara Fronckowiak in 1971. A special education teacher in the Sweet Home Central School District, she knew him in college at Fredonia, but they only began dating after they met again at a wedding in 1970.
They traveled extensively abroad, where they met and worked with numerous military history authors and collectors of military items.
Survivors also include another daughter, Molly Poremski; a sister, Kathleen Rich; and three grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 2, in Fourteen Holy Helpers Catholic Church, 1350 Indian Church Road, West Seneca.