UPDATE: Philmont native and Da|Ba regular Bob Macfarlane, who was also at the restaurant the evening before Dan’s death, turned up this 2014 article which captures some of the essence of Dan’s work and presence.
Hudson is awash in tears today over the untimely, unfathomable and genuinely tragic passing of Da|Ba owner Daniel Nilsson, said by a source in contact with the State Troopers to have died by his own hand on a family member’s farm.
I saw Dan just last night at his restaurant. We didn't get a chance to speak, as he was in conversation with another table. His rich chanterelle soup and clever tacos were as splendid as ever, and there was no sense of anything amiss. In recent days he had been posting hilarious photos of customers, his family and himself taken in a temporary Da|Ba photobooth.
I met Dan at the moment he landed in Hudson, while out canvassing for voters with Abdus Miah, probably in Spring 2005. A jolly young man was standing by his car near Jubilee (now Savoia), and we tried to register him to vote. He explained that he couldn't yet, but that he was here to look at the Paramount building across the street. If he bought it, he vowed to register right away.
Dan was full of life, and larger than it. He made friends easily, kept things fun, cared about his customers, provided countless people with needed work, and made a beautiful family.
That he is gone is deeply upsetting and baffling. If there was one quality to learn from Dan, it might be his absence of judgement toward others—his embrace of the many personalities and foibles which came through the Da|Ba door. And so one must honor his painful choice, even as we bitterly regret his sudden absence.