In memoriam Daniel Barclay March 18, 1985 - April 19, 2007

Daniel's memorial home page 

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From Ajay Dave, MIT,

Dan Barclay was a very light-hearted yet academically successful, driven guy. I only knew him for about a semester when we were both on the MIT Debate team but what I loved about him was his intellect and drive combined with his light-hearted nature. Most people with his knowledge, drive, and intelligence would be at times arrogant. Not Dan.

I sincerely regret not having spent more time with this great guy. He really understood life better then many people, including myself, I think. He was able to push hard for his goals and yet still enjoy every day, every minute, every second of this precious gift of life that we have. He enjoyed the journey and he I'm sure was looking forward to where he was headed.

I and many others will miss him greatly. Hopefully we can learn from his example and appreciate how lucky we are to have so many opportunities in life. His aborted journey is a tragedy, but through tragedy we learn to appreciate what we have.

From Bob Taggart, family friend,

Daniel’s life may have been short in years, but like many geniuses before him, his list of accomplishments was extraordinary.

Learning came easily to Daniel and he had a natural curiosity about the world around him and about science and math.  He had a retention level well above the norm.  In school, he excelled at every grade level and took advanced level courses, competing against the best and brightest locally and at MIT.

Daniel almost single handedly led the Menlo-Atherton Bears Quiz Kids team to record four consecutive championships.  His ability to perform under pressure and the glare of televised competition against other top scholars was remarkable.  His ability to think on his feet and to stay calm was astonishing.

Daniel was not just a bookworm.  His passions and interests were wide and many.  He enjoyed running cross-country races in high school, he loved to travel the world with his friends and family, he was an Eagle Scout, and he was a skillful and winning debater on the MIT debate team.   He was a budding inventor of children’s toys and games.  He had a life-long love of reading about history, geography, and biographies of famous persons.  Daniel loved to laugh and relished in playing practical jokes on his friends when they least expected it.  He loved animals and had many pet ducks.

Daniel was an unselfish person who gave countless hours to helping the under-privileged and educationally challenged students by mentoring and tutoring them in math and science.

Daniel touched many lives and his lasting legacy is one of extreme excellence.  He was a good friend to all who knew him.  He gave us all a renewed hope that by striving to be the best, we can all make a difference.

Daniel always set the bar of achievement high for himself.  He made us all proud to have known him and to be a small part of his remarkable life.  He truly enriched the lives of all of us who knew him, and brought us much joy.  We are eternally thankful for his life.

From Storm Russell,, Menlo-Atherton High School

I had the pleasure of knowing Daniel at Menlo-Atherton High school; first with the school’s debate team and then as my Teaching Assistant. It was in the latter capacity I had the chance to get to know Daniel better. I had a really challenging Study Skills class with students who were significantly behind in their academic skills and many of which were not fluent in English. I asked Daniel to help me with the math part of the course. It was easy to see that the kids warmed up to Daniel. Aside from his obvious knowledge and ability, I think his omnipresent humility added to his appeal with the class. 

I will always think of Daniel any time I have to determine if a number can be divided by 3 (if the sum of the numbers digits equals 3, then that number can be divided by 3). I may not recall this accurately, but I have a vague memory of having paid Daniel the grand sum of $1 so that we could all view this as a “professional experience.”   I was profoundly impressed by Daniel’s academic achievements.

While we all have greater capacities than most of us use, I firmly believe that 90% of all great accomplishments are achieved by 10% (or fewer) of our society. Daniel had already made a significant difference at a very young age, and I have no doubt that he would have gone on to make much larger contributions on a scale most of us can only imagine. I am saddened for Daniel’s family and our community at his loss. I am even sadder at the loss to the world-at-large because I see Daniel’s caliber so great that I have no doubt he’d have done greater things, the scope of which we can now only guess.

But hoping to end on a note more positive, I include a poem I’ve often found comforting at times like this. It’s called The Song of the River.  "The Song of the River" was written by William Randolph Hearst in 1941 at his estate Wyntoon on the McCloud River in the Northern California foothills of Mount Shasta and you can read it on this website.  

From Susan Bostian,, former neighbor and mother of students from Daniel's high school

Daniel Barclay was one part of an extraordinary family. For many years we lived a few houses away from the Barclay-Kayton household. Our children attended the same elementary, middle, and high schools. We belonged to the same “village”. I remember Daniel as brilliant, friendly, eccentric, passionate, involved, and wildly interesting. 

For instance, I remember ducks living in their backyard. One day, Daniel and his family were walking down our street followed by a gaggle of ducklings. Rachel, Daniel’s sister, explained how the baby ducks had become imprinted on them, and would follow them around as if they were the mother duck. We were mesmerized by the ducklings.  We helped pick mulberry leaves to feed their legions of silkworms.  

Sometimes we would see Sue riding her circus-sized bicycle by our house accompanied by her family, on foot or various other modes of transport. While the rest of us were debating the safety of trampolines, Sue welcomed all of the neighborhood kids to her backyard to share in the fun of their trampoline. There was a sign on the gate on the rare occasion when the trampoline was not available. More often, the sound of laughing children would carry over the fence.  I remember the walls of their garage covered in license plates from all the different states in the country. 

Because, mostly what I remember about Sue and her family is how much they contributed to everyone around them. Stories about Sue and her family are local legend. And Daniel was the shining star in every activity, event, and classroom. We knew he was incredibly intelligent and well-read. His peers turned to him the way I have turned to his mother through the years. In fact, I have called Sue so many times for advice and information over the years that I have her phone numbers memorized. She is the wise woman in our community, and her children have carried on the tradition of sharing their knowledge and wisdom with others. 

When we watched Daniel on Quiz Kids, we were filled with pride to see “one of our own” so successful. We laughed with delight at the rhythm of the show. Question, buzz, the emcee calling on Daniel, his answer, then the emcee saying“That is correct”. The same scenario repeated over and over. We just knew that Daniel was going to accomplish “big things” and some day we would get to say we knew Daniel Barclay. 

“What is Daniel doing this summer?” we would ask Sue. The answer was always intriguing - working at the Securities and Exchange Commission or the US Geological Survey. Daniel's USGS and SEC jobs became the basis for research projects that turned into published papers. 

But Daniel was always modest. He was a kind, gentle, soul, who would often return a greeting in a shy whisper. His peers respected him and we adults were impressed with his unassuming manner.

I got the phone call as I was in line at the San Jose airport. In life, when terrible things happen, you remember all the details of the moment. Daniel Barclay was missing. I sobbed through security. Sue was flying back east. I was boarding a plane to fly back east to look at colleges with my daughter. I couldn’t stop crying. The pain of the other mother was unfathomable. I prayed. Please don’t let it be Daniel. Daniel is our bright light, our hope for the future. Please, please, let Daniel be found safe. We landed, turned our cell phones back on, and the message with the unthinkable news appeared. 

I am comforted by the photos of Daniel on the memorial website. I see a handsome young man, smiling, surrounded by friends, and other bright lights. He looks happy in this world of great minds. Yet, I am brokenhearted because his light has gone out. He was too young, and he had so much ahead of him. After reading through the website, I realize that he has accomplished more in his 22 years, than many people do in a lifetime. I don’t care, I am still brokenhearted, and I want Daniel Barclay back in this world..

I think now that Daniel Barclay’s brilliance must have been a blessing and a burden. I realize now how much, so many of us, expected of him. I wish now I had reached out to him and told him how so many of us were proud of him. But that moment is gone. So, I would like to tell Daniel’s family how much I admired him, and them. How I will treasure the memories of the ducks, the silkworms, the trampolines, and the loving example of family walking around the neighborhood. I appreciate all the time and effort that they have donated to our schools and our community. I want to thank them for all the innumerable acts of kindness and goodness they have contributed to the world. And for creating an extraordinary person whose accomplishments and life raised the bar for all of us. 

And for Daniel, I promise to reach out to others more often and try to make a difference in other people's lives. Perhaps watching out for each other is a gesture we can all make to each other. I will never forget Daniel. There will always be a hole in my heart and in our village. I always said I was looking forward to the day when I could say I knew Daniel Barclay. This is much too soon, and with too much sadness, but I am so very, very, proud to say, I knew Daniel Barclay. 

Traci Kuratomi,, Smith College

I met Dan two years ago through debate. I remember seeing him debate in outrounds at Middlebury and was awed by his analysis. I complimented his performance in the round and we have been friends ever since. He was one of my first friends on the circuit and was an absolutely wonderful guy. I can’t think of a single person who did not like and respect him. Dan debated for the sake of debate and not with the sole purpose of winning. Dan and Erek (MIT's BS team) were famous for running ridiculous cases, such as proposing that the United States government should blow up the moon, and having solid arguments as to exactly why it should do so.

From our time together, I have many fond memories of Dan. He was always doing something fun, whether it be playing jeopardy at the BU tournament, writing APDA madlibs, or playing word games. We would often talk about cases together online and one time he wrote me a hilarious case about the movie Snatch. Once he even had me convinced that any food could be improved by the addition of soy sauce or chocolate (cornbread managed to prove him wrong, but it took me a week to think of it). 

One of my most recent and favorite memories of Dan happened just this March. As you probably know, whenever Dan was trying to prove that someone was evil he would say that they clubbed baby seals (of course Dan only said this jokingly). During my spring break I went home to California and actually saw baby seals. Immediately thoughts of Dan popped into my mind and I posted on his Facebook wall that I had seen baby seals and managed to avoid clubbing them. Next thing I know, I get an email in response about how I claimed not to be engaged in the “depraved practice”, but how the evidence suggested otherwise. Attached was an image of me and several seals photoshopped into a dance club. I couldn’t stop laughing.

Dan was an incredibly quirky and funny guy. He was also brilliant and hardworking. The world is so much worse off for not having him in it because I believe that he would have made a huge difference. I think that he had already begun to do so and know that my life is richer and better for knowing him. It was a true honor to know him.

Mark Schack,, Hillview Middle School teacher

There always are the "what ifs" when someone goes at so young an age, but with Daniel, as so many have said, the possibilities grow exponentially, just as memories trigger memories.

Except for his televised Quiz Bowl appearances, my images of Daniel are frozen in his middle-school years, with his buddies in their rain-or-shine turtlenecks. The stories on the memorial page clearly convey a sense of the richness that he gained on his road to adulthood.

I'm not sure how many teachers were fortunate enough to enjoy the ride with both Daniel and [his sister] Rachel. In the classroom, they were fairly different, but with one strong similarity. With some students, when their hand goes up, you brace yourself in anticipation of the answer that they are going to give so confidently, yet so erroneously. You know that you are going to have to let them clearly know that they were wrong --- perhaps not even close --- while still encouraging them to continue their enthusiastic participation. With Daniel and Rachel, you braced yourself instead for the question that they were going to ask. It would be that insightful and/or intriguing extension of the topic, one which you knew you would have to simultaneously address completely enough for them, yet concisely enough for the silent majority. Beware the eyes that roll, reflecting failure in either endeavor.

One of a kind.

Mary Rollins,, Menlo School mom

Regrettably, my son Chris never had the chance to meet Daniel, who was three years older. It is unfortunate, because they  seemed to share many of the same interests - geography, seismology, word games, contests, and an intense love of learning and I think, had they met, they might have hit it off. But were it not for Daniel, and the inspiration he provided my son with his success on Quiz Kids, there would not have been a Quiz Kids team at Menlo, and my son Chris would have had a much harder time finding his "niche" there. Let me explain.  

Chris is very smart, though he is not in the same league as Daniel, whose intelligence was truly extraordinary. When he first started high school at Menlo School, Chris was a shy, quiet, intelligent, somewhat lost student who was quite different than most other students there. After watching Daniel's success on Quiz Kids over the years, I vividly remembered reading in 2003 his mother's statement that his participation in Quiz Kids had "saved" Daniel at M-A High. I felt that a quiz kids team at Menlo would help Chris, and other "geeky" kids like him, fit in and find a niche where their abilities could be recognized and appreciated. We were able, after some prodding, to get a Menlo Quiz Kids team started, and it was I think one of the best things that could have happened to Chris. He was captain of the team his last two years there, and through Quiz Kids gained acceptance, confidence and found new friends who were "fact freaks" like himself. He ended up being one of the most well-liked and well-respected students in his class. This would not have happened, I am sure, were it not for watching Daniel on Quiz Kids four years before.  

I hope in some small way, that this note will give some comfort in knowing one of the ways Daniel's " light" helped to brighten someone else's life. The world is a darker place without him.  

Bob Hasbrook,, quizbowl coach, and history teacher at M-A High

My last official act in the life of Daniel Barclay was to hand him his high school diploma.  I was happy that he asked me because the act helped me bring to a close my career as a high school teacher on the highest possible note.  Dan never knew this but I saw a little bit of me in him when I was his age.  I too loved geography, read the World Almanac as if it was a novel, and could name all the states of Mexico, etc.  

Dan and I established our own classroom routine.  Every morning I would ask him a question on a subject that he was interested in.  Dan knew it was coming and knew it would be narrow in scope.  Example:  "At the Battle of Chickamauga where did General Thomas make his stand?"  His answer was Snodgrass Hill.  Dan got that one right, so my follow-up was, "Whose division came up on his right to check Longstreet's turning movement?"  answer General Steedman.  Dan wasn't aware of this, but the next day I made a bet with my that he could tell me the name of the general's cook.  

Daniel Barclay made teaching just plain fun and I will miss him.  Thanks, Dan!

Noah Veltman,, quizbowl teammate and traveling companion

I think a lot of people were fooled by Daniel.  I was one of them, at least for a while.  When you first met him, or when you saw him in action from a distance, it was just too easy to pigeonhole him.  He fit the part perfectly: the trivia prowess, the glasses, the soft-spoken manner.  People who didn't know him tended to reduce his identity to this archetype that more properly belongs in a short-lived sitcom.  I feel sorry for those people.  I was lucky enough to get a little glimpse of the real Daniel, and nothing I can write here will do justice to the kind of person he was.

When a life is brought to such a senseless end so early, phrases like "he had so much potential" and "he could have done anything" get thrown around so much that they've become a little cliche. That's too bad, because in Daniel's case, they both happen to be true.  There was no task beyond him.  If he saw fit, Daniel really could have changed the world all by himself in a way none of us can aspire to.  He's probably the smartest person I've ever met, and not just with a buzzer in his hand.  He saw connections where other people stared blankly, and he saw solutions to insoluble problems.  He was insightful far beyond his years about...well, pretty much everything.

And even though it seems like he was a man who knew it all (and compared to most of us, he was), Daniel would be the last person to tell you as much.  He was deeply aware of how much he DIDN'T know, and he approached the world around him like we all ought to, as a wonderful place filled with mystery, serendipity, and complexity that always has something new to teach an eager student.  I once read about a famous mathematician who had a habit of showing up at a colleague's door and saying simply, "My brain is open."  Suffice to say, Daniel's brain was always open.

In 2001, Daniel, myself, and our two Quiz Kids teammates won the grand prize, a trip to England.  Correction: In 2001, Daniel won the grand prize, a trip to England, and was kind enough to take a few of us along for the ride.  I got to spend a week or two as Dan's roommate and partner in crime, and found that he was very much a man after my own heart.  More than anything else, I will remember Dan for his sense of humor.  His mild-mannered exterior belied his amazingly sharp, dry wit.  When I heard the news about Dan, I started looking through old mementos from our trip and couldn't help but laugh reliving some of the great memories they sparked.

There's no way to make sense of what happened to Daniel.  It turns my stomach to think about it.  It was cruel, unfair, and the worst kind of reminder of both how precious and how fickle life is.  I can only take comfort in the fact that I was privileged to have known Daniel at all, as we all were.  He was one of a kind, and I hate that it had to be a tragedy like this to remind me of that.

Reflections for Dan Barclay’s Memorial Service, April 26, 2007
Michael Barclay,, Sue Kayton,, Dan's parents, and Rachel Barclay, Dan's sister, 

We were honored to have Daniel Barclay as our son and brother for 22 years. Dan had an intellectually brilliant and highly creative mind, coupled with a wonderfully irreverent sense of humor. It was an enriching experience to watch him develop from an inquisitive toddler to a college graduate. His works ranged from a story in middle school about a gallant fish trying to rescue his mother, to an as-yet unpublished historical action novel about a James-Bond type figure during the Revolutionary War, to several published papers on subjects as varied as predictive election modeling, seismic safety, and the technology of Japan. His many examples of humor included off-the-wall debate topics, a variety of hacks, amusing class presentations, and an unfinished parody of a Shakespeare play he was writing with his sister. Dan had a wide variety of interests: quiz bowl, debate, collecting tacky souvenirs on trips, playing bridge and computer games, and just hanging out with his friends. 

During his years at MIT, we watched an awkward adolescent bloom into a confident young man with so much promise. He had finally found a place where he fit in, and the debate club became a second family, with many brothers and sisters. After graduation, he had decided to stay in Boston so he could stay with his friends, and had accepted a job with a downtown financial investment firm. 

We would like to thank his friends, the members of the debate club, and the other students in the Toy Design class for being his friends. In March of both 2006 and 2007, he convinced the debate club to travel to Stanford – at MIT’s expense, of course – knowing this would get him a free weekend trip home. During those trips, we were able to see first hand how he was glowing with happiness, and was at ease with himself and with the world. When he went missing, the debaters gave up their four-day weekend to help search his room and his computer records, and track down leads. 

Dan taught us an important life lesson: not to take oneself too seriously.

After you leave this memorial service, walk over to the Stata Center to take a look at Dan’s latest hack. The architect designed a poorly-placed staircase that requires a long detour in order to get from the west end of the second floor down to ground level. Dan designed and installed a series of signs for that staircase, putting up a humorous new sign each time Physical Plant removed the previous one. The original sign is now in the collection of the MIT Museum, and the most recent sign was still there last time we looked. We hope that Physical Plant will allow it to remain as a memorial to Dan, or even better, replace it with the original sign, which was the best of them all. 

But the best memorial to Dan will be in our hearts.

Nikhil Savale, nikhilas@MIT.EDU, MIT

Daniel was one the smartest and funniest guys I knew. Check out the "official minutes" [posted on the main memorial page] which I found in my email. It is a parody of an ASA [student government] meeting written by him and reminds me of his humorous nature.

Bob Taggart,, Quiz Bowl fan, who watched all of his matches from the studio audience

My most lasting memories of Daniel were his thrilling and eye-popping performances on Saturday afternoons at the televised Quiz Kids competition in San Carlos before packed and enthusiastic crowds of supporters and adversaries.  I looked forward to watching Daniel excel as much as I would watching Barry Bonds hit a game-winning home run or Tiger Woods winning another major golf championship.

All of us came to expect that Daniel would almost single-handedly bury the opposition to ensure that his Menlo-Atherton Bears would advance to the next round, and ultimately come out on top as the Quiz Kids champions for four straight years. Thus, the expression “4-Peat” became well known among participants and audience.

Daniel was in “the zone”, to use a sports analogy, when on stage at Quiz Kids. His focus and concentration were unparalleled as was his broad range of knowledge on a wide variety of subjects.  Daniel loved geography and knew the capitals of every country on earth, and of every state. He knew the names of every major river, sea or body of water in the world and could pinpoint their location, source and flow. He was a whiz at math and could compute the most difficult calculations in his head effortlessly.  He even would surprise his friends and followers with his knowledge of sports trivia, and pop culture.

It was never whether Daniel’s M-A Bears would win, but by how great a margin of victory. I always knew Daniel was “on his game” when at the outset of the games during the warm-ups I observed Daniel yawning. This appeared to be his unique way of relaxing his mind and body and releasing all tension or nervousness before the games began.

After his customary victorious performance, he would get pats on the back by family, friends, and opponents alike.  I never once saw him gloat over his winning performances. On the contrary, he would seem almost reluctant to receive well-deserved accolades for his virtuoso performances.

It would seem that one way that Daniel’s legacy and enormous contribution to the success of the Bay Area Quiz Kids program could be acknowledged and preserved would be to name the winner trophy for him, or to award a trophy or plaque in his name to the top contestant each year, as chosen by the sponsors and producers of the show, with input from their host, Brad Friedman.

Sam Raymond,, MIT '06

I took 17.ThT Political Science Thesis Design class with Dan first semester of my senior year, fall 2005. Meeting Dan was, almost certainly, the joy of the semester. He was funny, engaging, and clearly brilliant. We weren't close friends, but it made me very happy to receive an email from him that April, saying:    

  Hi Sam,

This is Dan Barclay from 17.ThT last fall. I've been putting together a proposal for a research grant to support my thesis – you know, the one that uses differential equations to model ideology changes  – and was wondering if you'd consent to have your name included as part of a "testimonial". The paragraph in question would read:

I've been very enthusiastic about the idea of modeling partisan realignment for a while now, a sentiment that's only been encouraged after receiving positive feedback in 17.ThT last fall. In the words of one student who wishes to remain anonymous (OK, Sam Raymond), this project is "awesome"… and I can't think of a better testimonial than that!

Thumbs up / thumbs down? Feel free to suggest modifications. Hope you're not too sick of public diplomacy by now and you'll be able to take it easy the rest of the school year.

-Dan Barclay

I feel deeply that the world will be worse off without Dan, a person who was bright, talented, and funny, as well as extremely genuine. I would read his Facebook profile at times just to get a laugh.  I hope you can find comfort in his memory.

Tyson Mao,, Crystal Springs Uplands High School

I was apart of the Crystal Springs Quiz Kids team that took runner-up to Daniel's team the first two years the show was on Pen-TV.  Daniel would answer questions, especially on geography and history, with utmost precision. It was especially entertaining when he happened to know the name of Brittany Spears' upcoming movie back then, Crossroads. From our view at the other side of the stage, he was certainly amazing.

Eric Hartwig,, former principal of Menlo-Atherton High School

I grieve for Daniel, and for you and your family, and for all who had the good fortune to know Daniel. He was a one-in-a-googolplex kid, and I will never forget him. In reading over what others have shared, I can see we all saw the same qualities in him. He was intensely curious, quick-witted, kind, gracious, competitive, my mind he was one of the most self-realized students I have known, but ironically when he left M-A I knew that he had so much more to explore and accomplish. 

I thought of Daniel as a kind of Herbert O. Yardley type -- destined to do something great while taking great satisfaction translating his intellectual passions into solutions to common problems. I remember the Britney Spears story that Gregg recalled and it so exemplifies Daniel's approach towards learning: Britney was as obscure to him as Boethius is to the rest of us (and probably as interesting), but he studied her world anyway, for the challenge and so he could be a stronger teammate. 

In Daniel, the school had a superstar; if he'd been a basketball player he'd have carried his team to the finals and be a first-round pick in the NBA draft by now. He enjoyed his gifts but was always modest and ready with a quip. I can't tell you how much of a role model he was, though he'd deny it. And you know he inspired his teachers, too. We all loved him; it's as simple as that. 

Carol Taggart,, Dan's third grade teacher at Oak Knoll Elementary School

I remember the first time I met Daniel Barclay.  I was preparing my third grade classroom for the opening day of school in September of 1993 when a mother walked into the room to introduce her eight-year old son to a new school and a new teacher.  Her boy was shy and had a bit of a cold.  While his mother helped me with classroom preparations, Daniel indulged himself with books to read.  “Well”, I thought, “I have a mother who likes to help, and a shy, seemingly sensitive kid who loves to read.”

It wasn’t long before I learned what a voracious reader this youth was, and I soon accepted the fact that I would need to provide him with books interesting to an eight-year old, but with a vocabulary and concepts well beyond his age – not an easy task. 

Daniel was so much fun to teach, and on occasions he did teaching of his own.  When a child in class had some difficulty understanding a certain concept, Daniel would willingly step in, explaining from a child’s point of view, much to the delight of the other children and his teacher.  From time to time, I enjoyed my own private chuckle when I would overhear – not “Ask the teacher”, but “Ask Daniel”!

He loved geography and had a profound knowledge of the subject.  It became a game in class to see if anyone could find a country, state, or city on the map that Daniel would not be able to locate. He always succeeded.  The comment from his classmates, “Daniel knows everything!” was not uncommon.

I will never forget the time I taught my math class how to estimate two-digit numbers times two-digit numbers.  I told the children, “You can do this in your head.” I gave them examples such as 32 times 48, rounded off to 30 times 50. Add the appropriate number of zeros and you’ve got your estimate.  I proceeded to orally test each child in this exercise. When I came to Daniel, after a short pause he came up with the exact number, not the estimated number.  I tried another more difficult equation.  Again, he was able to arrive at the precise number.  Here was this eight year old child multiplying double-digit numbers times double-digit numbers in his head with no use of pencil and paper, and arriving with the correct answer every time!  He loved the challenge and found humor in my look of surprise.

Every teacher knows how important repetition is in order for a student to learn and remember certain facts, Daniel being the exception. With a photographic mind, one amazing thing about this child was his ability to understand and retain information from the first lessons. In his customarily quiet manner, he asked thoughtful questions, and enlightened fellow classmates with his special brand of humor.   

Toward the end of third grade, there was an assignment to write a story with a setting, characters, and plot to be read to the class upon completion. The children were riveted by Daniel’s story, peppered with his unique special sense of humor, and consisting of one plot hidden inside another, but with everything coming together in a surprise ending.  As I recall, it had to do with castles, and secret rooms, one room opening into another chamber with all kinds of surprises in store. Besides the creativity in his story, I recall being so pleased that this shy boy was getting more attention over a story than any other child reading their story. I sat on a desk behind the children and noticed that every single child was anxiously waiting to hear what was coming next . Daniel had to finish reading the story the next day, and the children were begging him for hints in the outcome. Typically, he took delight in holding his surprise until the end.

Daniel was a brilliant young man with a kind, generous, sweet-natured soul who took great pleasure in helping others.  He was by all standards an all-around wonderful young human being.  I have always considered it my great fortune to have had this child in my classroom.  

Daniel was headed for greatness. Future inventor? Famous writer? Economic advisor to leaders of the world? Well-known humanitarian? Nobel-prize winner? All of these? We can only imagine what he would have become.

We have lost a loving son, brother, grandson, nephew, friend, and the world has lost a great human being.  He will continue to hold a special place in my heart forever.

Allan Ewalt,, Harvard University

I am a member of Harvard's debate team. Debate is, of course, a competitive activity. Many of our peers spend their weekends thinking only of the most surefire way to defeat their opponents. I remember Dan as being among the few debaters who debated for the right reasons. He played to win, but he always, always brought his own brand of creative flair to the activity.

I've only ever debated with him once, but it was a great round about the start of the American Revolution. The case that he and Erek ran deeply questioned whether a simple chance of freedom should take precedence over guaranteed self-preservation.

Debate is supposed to be an exploration of and a challenge against the thoughts and the beliefs that we hold. Whether he set a round in America or a "galaxy far, far away," Dan always challenged the rest of us to think outside the box. Seeing the deep sorrow that every member of his team shares, I know they will miss him dearly. But I hope you will know that the rest of us will also miss him and his unique take on debate and life.

Diana Walsh,, reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle

My mom called today after reading my story in the paper and told me that Daniel was the reason she started watching the Quiz Kids show several years ago. She remembered not only his brilliance, but his good sense of humor. Six years later, it's the only show she regularly watches on television weekly and she told me it was Daniel that got her hooked.

Cherie Half,, cousin

Every time Sue called to announce another Quiz Kid event, my Dad would take the time to attend. He so enjoyed seeing Daniel answer each question with authority. We were all amazed at the Brittany Spears answer, as we had assumed that pop culture was not his forte. I remember going to Daniel's bar mitzvah in Palo Alto. He was very proud, especially because his Grandpa Al was in attendance. Grandpa Al talked and talked about Daniel and Rachel. He was awed by his offspring. His visits were very special . Fred and I share in your grief. Losing a son, brother, grandson, and friend at such an early age is truly tragic. Daniel grabbed life, embraced it, and always seem to expand his own horizons......the world is saddened that such a light was extinguished too soon.

David Hestrin,, Menlo-Atherton High School

I cried the day after we spoke on the phone when I heard the news. Daniel was a great person I was hoping to spending time with during the summer. I was very excited to hear his interest in Alturas and was very pleased to discover we weren't arguing, but building ideas together. I don't know what else to say except I am sorry for the loss.  I hope you are staying as strong as I know you are through all of this. We all share the destiny of death, but only few of us, like Daniel have the courage to live with passion, humor, and the pursuit and achievement of excellence. He was a great man.

Bob Feldman,, father's co-worker

Although I met Daniel only briefly, I felt like I knew him quite well - based in part on his heroic contributions to my son's semi-conquest of the obscure capitals of the world.  We'll never forget that Daniel knew that Kazakhstan had switched capitals from Almaty to Astana (based on a line in a New York Times article which reflected the change).  Long after we've forgotten the names of either of those two cities, we'll remember that Daniel knew both.

Maud Naroll,, family friend

When I met Daniel, he was two, and already reading street signs.  That was not his only activity.  He also enjoyed mixing all sorts of household substances to make "pooty".  Recently a friend told me she had been bad when she was little, mixing clippings from illicit hair cuts, mustard, and catsup.  When I told her that the substance, whose ingredients could vary, had a name and could be an official mom-approved activity, she was both delighted and relieved.  She and her husband are expecting their first child.  I am sure part of Daniel's legacy will live on, because several years from now, in a home high up in the nosebleed section of Lake Tahoe, someone, with great glee, will be making "pooty".  I'll bet she even lets her youngster help.

Grace Kim graceyk@MIT.EDU, MIT

I'm not sure if Dan and I bumped into each other even though we lived in the same dorm. But his loss affects me deeply. In the same way, many students on campus expressed their worry when he was missing even though they had never met him. And, reading this website, I'm sure they wished they had known him, just as I do.

Evan Green-Lowe,, Brandeis University

I knew Dan through debate. I know you have heard the stories and compliments from his peers and teammates, but I want to reiterate from a personal level, the unparalleled "goodness" that I could only use to describe Dan Barclay.  There are many people who are 'great', I have met no one else - close friend, or mere acquaintance - who has shown themselves to be of greater good.  Dan was actually had the ability to be above all the supposedly 'human' characteristics of ridiculing others, and striving for personal gain. In the round I debated with him, I truly debated with him rather than against him, and that taught me an invaluable lesson.  When I judged him, he was quick to be genuinely appreciative, perfectly honest, and always kind.

Jonathan Soon,, Menlo-Atherton High School

I met Daniel back when he was a freshman at Menlo Atherton High School. We were both on the Quiz Kids team together, though he was easily twice or three times the player I was. Though I only knew him briefly, I knew then that he was going places and would end up doing great things. The guy was driven AND talented; it was clear the world would bend to him.  News of his death saddens me as now the world will never see his future accomplishments.

Denise Lanfranchi, MIT

Every year we graduate managers have to go to a senior segue dinner to meet the kids and answer any questions they may have about the dorm.  I sat with Dan and 4 other kids but Dan was my favorite from the get go.  He was so open and he had a delicious sense of humor.  I remember driving home that night thinking “What a GREAT kid!”

Richard Samuels samuels@MIT.EDU, MIT

I was Daniel's Freshman advisor. After the first term, he studied Japanese security policy with me and participated in one of our "Asian crisis simulations" here at MIT. Daniel also did a UROP [research project] with me, in which he made a splendid digital story board based upon one of my books, a history of political leadership in Italy and Japan.

I was extremely fond of him. Apart from his unusually attractive package of geniality and intense intelligence, I was grateful to him for making jokes about my kidney when I went into the hospital for surgery. His playful emails put a smile on my face and, at times, threatened to undo my stitches. I would be happy to send you hard copies if you would be kind enough to send me your snail mail address.  Daniel was a pleasure to know, and a pleasure to work with. 

Michael Greenstone mgreenst@MIT.EDU, MIT
Daniel was enrolled in my class (14.33) in the spring of 2005.  His intelligence and wit were ever present.  I used to especially look forward coming to class to hear his presentations which were immensely enjoyable.  The point is that he was a delight to have in the class and I feel fortunate to have crossed paths with him.

Doss Welsh,, Menlo-Atherton High School

I can still remember Bob Hasbrook telling me that Daniel knows more about history than anyone currently teaching the subject at M-A. Since it was my first year teaching AP US, I entered class with a bit of nervous trepidation. I soon learned, that aside from his knowledge of the subject, he was truly a very gentle and kind soul. I always enjoyed it when he made a presentation to the class because I would learn from his knowledge and love of the subject; he had knowledge, but moreover he had passion for learning.

I also had the honor of being asked by Daniel and some other kids to be the advisor for the Diplomacy Club. As I ate my lunch while the kids played the game, I watched his cool demeanor and the occasional smile when he took another country from one of the others. His friends would simply shake their heads when he made the play that would finish their hopes for world domination.

I know that most will remember his brilliant mind and his ability to master any subject before him. I remember the sweet and compassionate young man who graced my classroom with his world class character and compassion for others. I will always remember him.

Karina Flores,, Menlo-Atherton High School
April 22, 2007

I just wanted to tell you how sorry i am about Daniel. The moment Mrs.Carson showed me the email i burst into tears. Having known him and his family since i was very young my heart truly goes out to you, he was SO incredibly intelligent and looked like he was always ready to learn more. He will be dearly missed.

Brad Friedman,, San Mateo High School
April 22, 2007

If QUIZ KIDS has ever had a superstar, it was Daniel. Some students wore funny outfits or recited eccentric poems in an effort to create a "television personality;" all Daniel had to do was be Daniel. Gregg Whitnah has already alluded to Daniels' capacity to scuss out a question after only a couple of words and buzz in with the answer. This was something he could do again and again in a show until I became a little spooked. Because it was more than knowledge Daniel possessed. It was the ability to figure out the odds of where a question must be heading and pouncing on the assumed direction rather than merely the answer. Others have tried this tactic through the years of the show; only Daniel was inevitably correct every time. His favorite subject on the show was geography, about which I know next to nothing. But when he correctly identified Miss Marple, Agatha Christie's detective, he endeared me to him forever. For there seemed to be no item of information that he felt was beneath him; all knowledge was good.

I had the great fortune to accompany Daniel and his team to London after they won their second year first prize award. He kept to himself a lot, didn't want to be photographed and preferred subsisting on Round Table Pizza rather than the abhorrent English food we were invariably served. (I don't blame him.) He loved the museums. We all went to the British Museum one day, and it just so happened that President Clinton was visiting. Naturally, a part of the museum was closed to the public for this occasion. While the rest of us perused the Elgin Marbles, Daniel mysteriously disappeared. We spent way too much time looking for him, and he finally popped up to tell us all about Clinton's visit; Daniel had snuck around somewhere and observed everything.

We all took a train down to Henry VIII's castle, where there is a garden maze. I decided to brave it and became hopelessly muddled pretty quickly.  Suddenly, from around the corner came Daniel. I made to say hi, but he barreled past me and actually pushed me down. I jumped back up and followed him to give him a piece of my mind. It's fortunate that I did so, or I might still be in the maze today. When I asked Daniel what he meant by shoving me aside, he replied, "You were going too slow."

I guess I'll always think of this young man as someone who moved a little quicker than most of us. I can't say he let me into his world, but I got to trail along for four years, and for that I'm grateful. At one of his final shows, his other team members refused to give me any sort of information I could use in the interview part of our program. So instead I used that time to honor Daniel's tenure on Quiz Kids, insisting that his teammates discuss what made their captain so special. Today I'm very glad to have done that. I am deeply saddened by his loss for his family and friends. I will not try and make sense of it, though. Daniel would have me beat on that score by now.

Gregg Whitnah,, Menlo-Atherton High School
April 22, 2007

Now, even more, I appreciate having had the privilege of knowing and working with  Dan over many years.  I first met Dan when he commuted to my Geometry class at M-A while he was still an 8th grader at Hillview Middle School.  Later, Dan was in both my AP Statistics and AP Calculus classes.  While the classes were very challenging, the one being challenged actually was me, not Dan.  When Dan raised his hand, I was usually in trouble, hoping that from deep within my brain I could pull out an explanation that was up to his intellectual level.  And, if not, after Dan was finished engaging in original thinking, I would later do some research and studying, trying to understand his novel approach to calculus or statistics.

As Dan's coach of Quiz Kids, during his 3rd and 4th year of being on the team, I learned about two things. First was about his amazing ability to rapidly learn new content and secondly, about his wry, off the wall, sense of humor.  Meeting twice a week at lunch, the Quiz Kid team spent a lot of time practicing and it was during these times that Dan's sense of humor came out repeatedly.  I think we saw that humor many times live on TV, as well, as Dan exchanged comments with Brad Friedman on the Quiz Kid show.  It was during the final match that we saw how Dan absorbed information so well, even on unfamiliar topics.  Studying the gossip magazines for several days prior to the finals, it was Dan who rang in with the correct answers about Brittany Spears and a current rock group.  I will never forget how Dan repeatedly buzzed in with correct answers after hearing only one or two words of the question.   Emcee Brad, stunned by Dan's abilities, as a joke, held up a question card faced flat against his own forehead, defiantly not even reading the first word to see if Dan could still buzz in. 

As most of Dan's fans know, during his four years on the Quiz Kids team for M-A, his team never lost a match and won the Bay Area Championship all four years.  Dan was such an intimidating player that Peninsula TV reconfigured their format, trying to somehow make him less formidable.  They were, of course, unsuccessful.  As many studio audience signs stated, Dan was, and, always will stand out in our vision, as "Dan the Man."

My wife Margie and I felt very fortunate to have traveled with Dan on two of the four trips that Dan won from the Quiz Kids show.  Our first, 10-day trip was to Ireland, Wales, England and Scotland.  Dan has a tremendous interest in history which he shared such as his knowledge of Hadrian Wall and the Roman Empire.  He showed his adventurous side when he was offered haggis at a traditional Scottish dinner.  It was in Scotland that he searched for and bought one of his tacky souvenirs referred to a recent article.  I think a highlight of the trip for Dan was when we visited the William Wordsworth house in the Lake District of England.  The walls of the "cooler room" were covered with newspapers from the early 1800's and Dan was fascinated to be reading an article about a recent battle involving Napoleon. When the rest of tour group continued, it was hard to tear him away from his reading.

Our second trip with Dan was to Costa Rica.  I am sure if  Dan could have had his way he would have liked to return to Europe again to visit museums. But once in Costa Rica, Dan immersed himself good-naturedly in the history and tropical adventures.  Riding horses in the jungle, soaking in a volcano's hot springs, boating down rivers with crocodiles, enjoying the beaches, riding hours on dirt roads in the dark to see turtles burying their eggs in the sand, and awakening to the roar of a howler monkey outside his window were all part of this 11-day experience . Dan also bravely rode ziplines though the cloud forest over jungle canyons.  He seemed impressed, maybe even envious of the sleepy sloths encountered high in the trees - - for all that Dan accomplished, he certainly appreciated sleeping.  We loved sharing these out-of-the-ordinary times with him and enjoying this tropical country.  We still have the sweet "thank you" note from him imprinted with "Daniel Barclay" and a leaping dolphin.

Knowing and being with Dan has been a lasting, special part of my life.  His humor, his kindness to us and others, his quiet, soft-spoken way, his gentle manner, made our time together very enjoyable.  I know that I can say for myself, for my family, and for the M-A community that he will be deeply missed.  He contributed so much to so many and asked for little in return.

Adam Nir [] Brandeis '06
Friday, April 20, 2007 

I enjoyed having Dan on the debate circuit when I was there. Dan was an incredible person, and one of the ten people I gave a gift to last spring when I left the debate circuit.  I wanted him to know how much he meant to me, even though I only knew him one year. Dan had a creative spirit that could not be contained. Every tournament, every round he came up with new cases, new ideas, and pushed debate to new levels. Sometimes it felt more like a game with him, just fun. He wrote a case for me, opp choice, do you join the IDF or the Rebel Alliance in the Star Wars universe.

Another case was a war of cereal characters, and one of making the ultimate basketball team (which he ran @ Stanford against team mates of mine). He was fair, was bright, and was kind. Every tournament that he went to he made better because of the rounds he provided people with, the wisdom, the fun, the competitive spirit. You can always see that he was living life to it's fullest. I was so glad that we got to know each other, that he would ask me questions, and that he was having fun and learning. I know he was also teaching, he taught me many things about life. Before I left he gave me a book, The Source, which was the last thing I read in the US. His friendship meant a great deal to me and I will miss him greatly. But I know that his impact has been felt. He provided fun times and memories while challenging and building others so that they could be better, that he pushed the limits at all times, and that he gave me hope that the debate circuit was developing correctly. His light will live on within many of us, and I promise to remember him for being the incredible person that he was. I am so sorry for your loss, and will light an extra candle on Sunday for him (Remembrance Day in Israel).

Luciana Pereira,, former housemate from dormitory
Saturday, April 21, 2007 

During Fall 2005 I had the chance to work with Dan preparing Ashdown House brunches. On Sundays mornings when we had brunches, there was Dan enthusiastically frying the sausages in the small kitchen. Later on we all cleaned Hulsizer's room together. He was such a friendly, funny and well liked person to be around. His presence is already missed.

Eileen Street,, former neighbor, April 20, 2007

Daniel Barclay was my neighbor on Doris Dr. and he went to high school with all of us. I remember him as one of the most intelligent individuals I have ever known. I also got a chance to get to know him as a person attending his family's parties and visiting their house frequently. Also, for all the times he came over to my house to swim in the pool.

In case you have not been in contact with him since high school it seems he has accomplished a lot:

According to MIT, Barclay was a senior studying political science and lived in the Ashdown House. He was a member of the MIT Parliamentary Debate Team and last summer was awarded the Jeffrey L. Pressman Award, which is given to undergraduates to undertake a special project or internship in U.S. government, politics, or policy, the university said in a statement.  My thoughts are with Daniel's family...