Fredric Daniel Riss, Jr. (Dan Riss) of Harpers Ferry, WV passed away at 2:20 PM on Wednesday October 2, 2019 at Hospice of the Panhandle in Kearneysville, WV.
He was born in Cleveland, Ohio, December 17, 1942, to the late actor Dan Riss and Virginia Irene Riss, and later grew up and attended schools in North Hollywood, California. He is survived by his brother Robert Riss of Bolivar, WV.
Dan was a member of the Harpers Ferry Town Council for 19 years, winning nine consecutive elections. As a walking book on Harpers Ferry history, Dan’s research papers and archiving of old photographs provide an invaluable and enduring treasure trove of information for the historic town. Dan quietly and modestly contributed greatly to the community.
On the Council, Dan was a conscientious and informed conservator when it came to protecting the heritage of the quaint 18th-century village of Harpers Ferry. He also served for many years as an advocate for good stewardship of the Elks Run stream—the source of drinking water for both Harpers Ferry and Bolivar. His expertise with data managements, mapping and critical thinking skills helped inform the public of Elks Run’s importance. He was among the first to express concern for monitoring the upstream conditions of the stream and led the Water Committee on merry field trips to see first-hand the lay of the land.
Dan proudly served in the U.S. Air Force from 1963 to 1967, with duty as a national security specialist stationed in Japan.
Before his retirement, Dan worked for over 25 years as a Conservator with the National Park Service at the Interpretive Design Center AKA “Harpers Ferry Center” at Harpers Ferry, WV, with a specialty in the restoration and preservation of metal objects. Examples of Dan’s work can be found on display in Interpretive Centre exhibits throughout the national park system.
A true renaissance man, Dan’s intellectual curiosity led him to explore many areas of interest; he possessed broad knowledge over a wide range of subjects, which he freely shared with others, especially at his favorite lunch and reading location, the Country Café. His college studies included coursework and mentorships in architecture (U.C. Berkeley), photography (Los Angeles), and history and other studies (U.C. Hayward).
An enthusiastic movie fan and critic himself, Dan appeared as an “extra” in the Patsy Cline biopic “Sweet Dreams,” which was filmed in part at the Rainbow Lounge on Rte. 340 outside of Charles Town, WV. He also appeared in the American Playhouse production of Mark Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson, which was filmed in Harpers Ferry.
In addition to his parents, Dan is preceded in death by brother Stephen Allen Riss, and sister Barbara Ann Pratt. A private service for scattering his ashes will be held in the San Francisco Bay area, where he will join his family predecessors.
A local “Celebration of Life” for Dan will be held in early November, with date and location to be announced.
Dan had a most welcoming smile and possessed a most generous heart. Remembrances may be made by helping the living in need at: Doctors Without Borders, 40 Rector Street, 16th Floor, New York, NY 10006, or Hospice of the Panhandle at firstname.lastname@example.org