Nearly 75 people gathered at Cornerstone Adult Services on Warwick Neck Monday night to pay homage to Daniel Pendergast Jr., who passed in April of 2014.
Dan was an integral member of the Cornerstone Adult Services community, sitting on the board of trustees for more than 15 years, and was the last chair of the board before Cornerstone merged with Saint Elizabeth Community. Dan became a trustee for Saint Elizabeth once the affiliation was complete.
To remember his contribution, Cornerstone dedicated a glider swing in his memory and invited family and friends to a brief ceremony.
The City of Warwick and both the House and the Senate presented Pendergast’s family with citations. Carol Edwards Pendergast, Dan’s widow, said her husband made life fun and lived a “wonderful and well-deserved life” himself. She recalled the jokes he would tell, the URI tailgate parties he would throw and his love for his six grandchildren.
“His charitable service to the community was high on the list of commitments,” she said. “He told me his mission in life was to give back because he was thankful for all the opportunities given him.”
All the speakers at the ceremony remarked on how influential Dan and his dedication to helping others was.
Steve Tilley, who met Dan through the Rotary Club 25 years ago, said Dan’s passion was “contagious, infectious” and is one of the reasons he not only began working with Saint Elizabeth Community but why he has stayed.
“Some people just jump off the page, are larger than life, and that was Dan,” Tilley said. “I couldn’t say no to the example of Dan.”
Phil Slocum, who knew Dan his entire life, said, “He is responsible for what Cornerstone and Saint Elizabeth are today.”
Slocum grew up down the street from Dan. He said Dan waved as you walked past and was always pleasant. He said Dan’s presence somehow created a sense of security for the neighborhood.
“He was a true leader,” he said. “Everyone he ever knew was never a stranger. My life was better for knowing him.”
Roberta Merkle, the past president of Cornerstone Adult Services, said she felt likewise and was happy to have played a “small role” in Dan’s life.
She said Dan acted not as simply a member of the Cornerstone and Saint Elizabeth community but he was a leader providing guidance, and his legacy continues in the success of the two organizations.
“When you do the right things for the right reasons things just come together, and no one deserved this more than Dan,” Steven Horowitz, president and CEO of Saint Elizabeth Community, said.
He tried to think of Dan’s most important accomplishment but couldn’t because Dan was so involved and so important to so many initiatives that there wasn’t just one. Horowitz considered Dan a true mensch, or gentleman, and was proud to call him a friend.
Every speaker commented on Dan’s complete dedication to his family and how happy they made him.
“There was nothing more important to Dan than his family,” Slocum said. “It was what lit Dan up and put a smile on his face.”
“You all heard how proud he was of his family but we heard how proud he was of Cornerstone,” Dan’s son, Daniel Pendergast III, said. “This place was a pillar in the foundation of his life. He thought it one of his greatest accomplishments. This facility will be a permanent symbol of his legacy.”
He said his father was defined not by his profession but by his volunteerism and charitable nature.