Our Friend Henry!
Henry Saltonstall Dakin 1936 - 2010
Henry Dakin - The Stuffed Toy Millionaire That Became The Secret Behind-The-Scenes Godfather of VR and Sponsor Of A Revolution In Russia
Henry Dakin died peacefully at home surrounded by family in Ukiah, California on August 25th at age 73. A fourth generation Californian, Henry helped creative individuals realize their uncommon dreams by sharing his skills and resources to support their innovative for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. His boundless curiosity, indefatigable industry and selfless service inspired countless people. He leaves a prodigious and enduring legacy of visionary philanthropy, humility, kindness, and immense generosity. Henry grew up in Pasadena, California, and graduated from Harvard University in 1958. During the 1960's, he did research in health physics at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and designed a pocket radiation detector that is still in use today. Devastating tragedy befell him in 1966 when he lost seven family members in a plane crash, among them his father Richard and brother Roger, who founded the Dakin Toy Company.
During the 1970s, Henry's protean interests in consciousness, parapsychology, virtual reality, computer technology, and environmental conservation generated leading-edge projects at his Washington Street offices in Pacific Heights in San Francisco. His love of printing led him to explore early innovations in desktop publishing and many other publishing ventures: he wrote a book on Kirlian photography, published religious documents smuggled from Soviet political prisons in the "Samizdat Bulletin" and a major guide to doing business in Moscow. Many of us helped Henry organize the latest "Russian Revolution" by helping him fax documents in and out of Russia and relay video via his "SpaceBridge" so that all of the Russians knew that an uprising was afoot.
Mondo 2000's RU Sirius described him as "technology's ultimate philanthropist".
Henry had the first, fully-equipped, modern "Ghostbusters" lab in the basement of his Washington Street Research Center, rigged out with a full Faraday Cage and NASA thermal imaging systems to capture paranormal and high-level human experiences. Some of us ran tests, like Ghostbusters, before there was a "Ghostbusters" movie. Some people think that Ivan Reitman got the idea for "Ghostbusters" by basing the main character off of Dakin. The Washington Street Research Center was around the corner from his transformed auto-body shop/Atelier which was at 3220 Sacramento Street.
Henry mentored and helped Jaron Lanier, Linda Jacobson, The Well text posting site, Scott Douglas-Redmond, RU Sirius, Howard Reingold, et al, move their efforts to the next stages. Henry had a deep relationship with NASA, CIA and State Department connections. His parties on the top floor of 3220 Sacramento Street were legendary, and usually had some of the most famous authors and technologists in the world in attendance.
Henry's deep concern over the escalating arms race grew in the 1980s, and resulted in his increasing support to many activist groups that were pioneering novel forms of citizen diplomacy such as Esalen's Soviet-American Exchange Program. Ever-expanding activities required more space, so Henry transformed an auto-body shop at 3220 Sacramento Street into a unique office complex, multi-media and cultural networking center for citizen activists to hold public and private events.
Over the decades, Henry incubated an astonishing number and variety of fledgling non-profit groups, providing them with technical support, funding, and office and living space. Some are now well-established groups such as Internews, United Nations Association of San Francisco, Institute for Global Communications, Presidio Alliance, San Francisco Global Business Council, Association for Space Explorers, Link TV, and Bioneers. Self-effacing, Henry shunned publicity, yet was a truly remarkable cultural ambassador, peacemaker, and global communications pioneer.
In 1988 the New York Times featured two of the many groups he fostered: Center for Citizen Initiatives, which exchanged business delegations of thousands of Americans and Soviets, and the San Francisco/Moscow Teleport, which introduced e-mail to the Soviet Union and later became a global telecom company. Henry and his wife Vergilia helped Bay Area parents establish the San Francisco Waldorf School, based on the teachings of Rudolf Steiner. The school now operates classes from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, and is the largest Waldorf school in North America.
This loving husband, father, brother, and compassionate friend of humanity and the Earth was a 40-year resident of Pacific Heights in San Francisco, more recently of Mill Valley in Marin County, and finally Ukiah. He is survived by his wife Vergilia Paasche Dakin; daughters Adriana Dakin, Rose Dakin, and Julia Dakin Frech; son David Platford; grandchildren Iola Dakin Gravois and Gwendolyn Dakin Johnson; sisters Susanna Dakin and Mira Sadgopal (Mary Dakin); nephew Samuel Dakin and his children; and a vast network of friends and grateful recipients of his generosity.
A memorial celebration for Henry Dakin was held in San Francisco at The Presidio Golden Gate Club on November 14, 2010 at 2:00pm. The most interesting people in the world attended that event.
Gifts in Henry's name may be made to: San Francisco Waldorf School, Earth Island Institute, RSF Social Finance, and Mendocino Environmental Center.
Henry will be missed, never forgotten and...thanks to his support of VR and "Ghostbusting", he may not be entirely "gone"...