Sunday, November 10, 2019

Saying goodbye to the Good Doctor, the Great Tie-yanker

My in-laws, Lanie and Doc Danker, with former Michigan star Jalen Rose at ESPN.

Yanking me across the room by my tie, Wayne “Doc” Danker grumbled to anyone who would listen, “This is the so-and-so who wants to marry my daughter.” And so my official introduction to the Danker clan in 1990 at the wedding of Doc’s other daughter Joan was rather, ah, inauspicious. Intimidating, too.

Less than two years later, I married terrific Carol, the youngest of his four children. Because Doc didn’t yank me around while a ring was placed on her finger at the altar, most believe he gave his blessing.


The Doctor giving away his daughter Carol --
 my beautiful wife -- in 1992.
We lost The Great Tie-yanker on Friday morning at 94. Cause of death: His big, old heart simply gave out. Perhaps a little bit of orneriness was a factor, too, although we await confirmation from the angels. While we mourn his loss, we also have so much to celebrate about his life: numerous family gatherings, golf outings, card games and so much more. Here’s some of what I’ll always remember about Doc:

He loved a good glass of wine, preferably the cheapest he could find. Anything over 10 bucks was way too expensive. A $15 bottle? What a waste of cash!

Wayne served in the Army Air Corps, the forerunner of the Air Force, during World War II. He didn’t talk about it much, but we all had deep respect for his service.

He often took out his false teeth at family gatherings, much to the delight of some of his grandchildren (and to the horror of others). Speaking of horror, he once drove back from a Minnesota casino one night steering the car with his legs. A premature death flashed before the eyes of at least one of the passengers.

He and his wife Lanie LOVED sports. Some of us can still see those wide, wonderful smiles on their faces when they had their picture taken with former Michigan hoops star Jalen Rose at ESPN in Bristol, Conn. (Thank you, Jalen.)

Doc delighted in talking about his family’s deep roots in Iowa. Most of them were farmers back there in salt-of-the-earth country. I’d listen to those tales any day.

Family had deep, deep meaning for Doc and Lanie. Years ago, they owned a place in Clear Lake, Iowa. (It was so tranquil there that some of us would fall asleep the moment we’d walk in the door.) As Carol and I left one afternoon, they wept. They couldn’t bear for us to part.

In 2014, Doc’s beloved Lanie, his wife of 62 years, died in Arizona. Her great, big heart finally gave out too. The loss cut to the bone for the good Doctor. The passing of that wonderful woman was a lesson for many of us on what it means to love someone with all your heart.

In July 2016, my Dad, the rock of the Banks family, died. The next day, the Doctor called to offer condolences while I sat alone on the bench in a mall. He knew how I felt. We both bawled. He knew, oh, how he knew.

Now that you have passed through those pearly gates, good Doctor, here’s a few things YOU should know:

Iowa State lost 42-41 to Oklahoma last night. Carol is amazed the Cyclones came back.

If there’s wine up in heaven, it’s OK to unlock the wallet for the good stuff.

Be sure to give Lanie a hug and tell her we love her.

And don’t take out those damned false teeth. The angels would be horrified!

God speed, sir. We love you.


  1. Sorry to hear the news.

  2. John, very sorry for your loss. Its sad to lose family that are so dear to us. I hope he spent his last years in peace and comfort. He’s surely at peace now. Until you see him again.