Daniel Menaker, 79, of New Marlborough, writer, publisher, editor and mentor

Robert Daniel Menaker, 79, died peacefully at home in New Marlborough, Mass., on Monday, October 26th, with his wife of 40 years, Katherine Bouton, and his children William and Elizabeth Menaker by his side. The cause was pancreatic cancer. Dan, or Danny, was the son of Mary Grace and Robert Owen Menaker.

He was born at French Hospital in New York City on September 17, 1941. He was raised in New York City and later Nyack, New York, but his real home was always in the Berkshires. In recent years, he was a regular at Rubi’s, sitting with the newspaper, coffee and a sweet roll almost every day, chatting with customers and staff, encouraging would-be writers and artists, a mentor as he had been to so many during his professional career.

His uncle Peter Lvrov Menaker ran the Tohone Boys Camp on Lake Buel for nearly fifty years. Another uncle, Frederick Engels Menaker (Enge) ran a camp for families adjacent to the boys’ camp. Many former campers ended up settling in the area.

Danny spent his childhood summers with his uncles and, by the time he was ten, was given the job of shepherding the children of the guest camp families for the day. One former camper, the historian David Nasaw, became a lifelong friend. He wrote: “He was my oldest friend — I’ve known him for about 70 years.

I met him at Tohone Guest Camp where he was loosely in charge of the kids, his mission to get us away from our parents and the guest camp for as long as possible during the daylight hours. We were piled into the back of Enge’s pickup truck, Dan sat up front, and we were driven up to the farm for the day. Dan, at ten years old, was much like he was at 75: witty, opinionated, a vicious ping-pong competitor, skinny, with an athletic build, and unlimited energy, and a wry sense of humor.” The “farm” was the family’s current property on what was then called Lake Buel Road. Dan was a graduate of Nyack high school and Swarthmore College, class of 1963, where he majored in philosophy and poetry.

He had a master’s degree in English from Johns Hopkins University. After college he taught for several years before being hired as a Fact Checker at The New Yorker Magazine, where he later became a senior editor. After 26 years, he moved to book publishing and was executive editor in chief at Random House Publishing Group from 2003 to 2007.

He was the author of eight books, including two collections of short stories and a novel, The Treatment. After his cancer diagnosis in January of this year, he began to write poetry about his experience with cancer while the pandemic raged. Titled “Terminalia,” the book will be published in November by Portal Press and distributed by the N+1 Foundation.

Donations in Dan’s memory may be made to Hospice Care of the Berkshires, 877 South Street, Pittsfield Ma.


Messages and remembrances can be sent to the family at the following address: katherinebouton@hearinglossnyc.org.

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