Daniel Siegel, Yale student

Martial arts instructor dies after battle with brain cancer

November 27, 2010|By Joe Burris, The Baltimore Sun

Daniel Joseph Siegel, a rising junior at Yale University who taught martial arts to students and faculty, died on Saturday morning after a lengthy battle with brain cancer. He was 22.

Mr. Siegel was born in Baltimore and graduated from Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School in Pikesville. A political science major at Yale, he excelled both inside and outside the classroom.

He is the son of Janet Berg and Dr. Everett Siegel, a psychiatrist and assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

According to his mother, he was a straight-A student.

Dr. Siegel said his son instructed many students at Yale in Tien Shan Pai, a form of kung fu that stresses fluidity of rhythm and concentrated blows from the hand.

"He had an interest in it at about 11 or 12, he did some research about it and then picked it up," said Dr. Everett, who added that his son had advanced to a second-degree black belt.

Daniel Siegel was diagnosed with brain cancer in May 2009. Family friend Dr. Charles M. Wiener, professor of medicine and physiology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said that during Mr. Siegel's treatments, he "reminded doctors why they wanted to be doctors."

"He was liked and respected by all, and was not only physically talented but brilliant. He was a mensch," said Wiener about Mr. Siegel. "To me, my biggest regret was that he would have touched many lives. This was a kid who was going to do something important. And there are a lot of lives missing something because of his loss."

Mrs. Berg said that in recent weeks her son sought to know the difference he had made in the lives of others. "People started sending him letters and e-mails. We have them from teachers and friends."

Beth Tfiloh director of guidance Jean Ginsberg of Baltimore, who wrote Mr. Siegel's recommendation to Yale, said she visited him at this home about 10 days ago. "I was telling him that he really made a mark, that there wasn't a teacher who had him in a classroom who wouldn't remember him forever. And he could barely get a word out, but he said, 'Thank you, that means so much to me.' He was just sheer goodness."

Funeral services are at 1 p.m. today at Sol Levinson and Bros. Funeral Home in Pikesville. Contributions in his memory may be sent to a foundation that has been set up in his name: The Daniel Joseph Siegel Fund, Baltimore Community Foundation, 2 East Read St., ninth floor, Baltimore 21202.

In addition to his parents, Siegel is survived by a sister, Leigh Siegel, of Baltimore.

joe.burris@baltsun.com

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