Dan Smolla : 1964 - 2018



Daniel Scott Smolla, aged 54, passed away on September 20, 2018, at the home of his brother, in Delaware, surrounded by family and friends.

Dan is survived by his four siblings and their spouses, Rod (Anna), Carol (Tom), Greg (Ada), and Jeff (Jessica); and nieces and nephews, Erin (Stewart), Corey (Evan), Dylan, Abbi, Caleb, Kate (Maxx), Sarah (Brandon), Jessica, Ruth Marie (Angel), Lucas (Adaliss), Javier (Catherine), Chris, JoAnna, and Nikolai. His death was preceded in death by his parents, Richard and Harriet Smolla.

Dan worked as a librarian at the Aurora Santori Public Library. Dan was a musician, filmmaker, songwriter, and author. Dan was a sweet, kind-hearted, generous, easy-going soul, with countless friends and colleagues who loved him.


Dan also had an orange kitty, Pumpkin, who he declared to be the love of his life. Dan was wonderfully creative; he produced musical compositions and independent films. He was deeply spiritual and philosophical.

Dan loved Chicago sports and Chicago pizza. Donations in Dan’s honor may be made to the Chicago Bears-- oops, we mean the Aurora Public Library Foundation. Dan’s family thanks his many friends and colleagues at the Aurora Library and the Theosophical Society in Wheaton for the love and support they gave him during his courageous battle with cancer.

Family and friends are invited to a Celebration of Dan’s Life at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 3, at the Aurora Santori Public Library.

Rest in Peace, Our Dear Brother

Jim Roll

REST IN PEACE my earliest bandmate, high school co-scallawag, college roommate, spiritual librarian. Dan Smolla. He’s in my profile picture with the glorious grey hair and shades FROM A YEAR AGO.

My favorite guitar player ever. He was without question the most dedicated spiritual seeker I ever met. Beyond cliche in every way.

September 20th, 2018
We will always remember that smile!
July 18, 2018
Amy Fischer Roth

There are a lot of his friends here who are thinking of him and the very good days we spent with him.

His coworkers at the library are devastated. Let the family know we will help in any way we can with the memorial service.

September 19th, 2018
Dan's 2nd Home---The Library
‎Steven Hashimoto‎

I am so very sorry for your family's loss. It's also the world's loss; Dan was not only an immensely talented and creative person but a genuinely beautiful human being.

September 21st, 2018
April 2018
Dan's niece Kate Norman with Maxx, her fiance
Kate Norman (1 of 3)

RIP to my Uncle Dan. I have him to thank for heavily influencing my love of all things eccentric: music, art, literature, etc. He burned me my first Pink Floyd albums as an elementary kid. He kindled my love for folk/bluegrass music as he introduced me to this genre . . .

September 20th, 2018
Kate Norman (2 of 3)

One of my favorite memories is when he took me and a few of my friends to a Bob Dylan show as freshmen in high school... He picked us up for the show wearing a feathered fedora and dressed head to toe in denim, aptly earning the nickname "Denim Dan". . .

September 20th, 2018
Kate Norman (3 of 3)

You were a great uncle, almost more of an older brother figure to me.

Thank you for always sharing your creativity with the world.

You are greatly loved and will be missed. Let there be songs to fill the air..

September 20th, 2018
With Gio and Amy
Duncan Rouleau‎ (1 of 2)

I’ve been hesitating on what to write about Dan. There is the family you are born into, and there is the family you choose.

Dan was my brother. I admired him. I felt special hanging out with him. We often drove around late high school and college nights listening to music, talking about dreams and plans, and getting into one bizarre tangle after the next . . .

October 12th, 2018
Duncan Rouleau‎ (1 of 2)

There was definitely something both deeply accepting and frustratingly intangible about Dan. Funny as hell.

A genuinely original mind. I remember the schemes we’d devise to fight off boredom, or entertain our friends, went well above and beyond the usual fare into what I can best describe as performance art and not always for an audience, mostly for ourselves.

October 12th, 2018
Amy Fisher Roth

So true!

There will never be another to fill the goofy, crazy, brilliant void he left.

October 16th, 2018
Listening for Life
Dave Lombardi (1 of 2)

I remember the day I met Dan. It was high school. My cousin Brad and my friend Cario told me there was a guy I should meet that I would love. They were right.

He was building an Estes (Big Birtha) rocket in his bedroom when we walked in. I swear, there was an immediate, palpable connection. We immediately became inseparable. We did everything together . . .

September 20th, 2018
Dave Lombardi ( 2 of 2)

Dan was my best man on my wedding day.

We saw Muddy Waters, Jonathon Richman, Bruce Springsteen, Hubert Sumlin...and more together. We had stupid jokes and recorded fake talk shows with my wife Jamie, Jim Roll and Jim Zielinski.

September 20th, 2018
Dan's Niece Sarah Norman with boyfriend Brandon
Sarah Norman (1 of 2)

RIP to my dear Uncle Dan. You taught me how to appreciate the little things in life. You taught me how to laugh a little more and worry a little less.

I remember you weren’t afraid to let our crazy dog Shelby off the leash to roam around in the forest even if she did come back with a few ticks and covered in mud . . .

Septemeber 20th, 2018
Sarah Norman (2 of 2)

Music has always brought our family together, and our Smolla hootenannies will never be the same without you.

We love you and will miss your kindhearted, free-spirited soul.

Septemeber 20th, 2018
Tara Moyle

Oh no Jeff. I have been thinking about you and Dan. I wish I had a chance to say goodbye. Called the hospital but no answer.

You are all in my prayers. Much love to all of you.

September 19th, 2018
With Valery Lanotte
Dan's Sister, Carol Norman
WIth nephew Dylan & Brother Rod
Bald Willies Reunion, 2017
April 2018
Dave Lombardi (1 of 2)

Dan showed me how to play guitar. He dared me to learn harmonica and I did it. We wrote and played music together.

He is part of me and I am devastated...paralyzed. I know we want to celebrate his life...I will....I surely will but right now all I can do is cry because my friend is leaving and part of me dying . . .

September 2oth, 2018
Dave Lombardi (2 of 2)

Dan was the smartest, weirdest, funniest, truest person I have ever known and I am thankful to have been his friend.

I can’t believe this is happening and I am sad. I Love him.

September 2oth, 2018
"Deedle" movie scene
The Bald Willies - 2017 Reunion
Dan and Valery Lanotte
Juliana Cesano (1 of 2)

As a friend, we always looked forward to being with him because the house will be full of laughter -- guaranteed.

He was a friend and a brother to us, and Dharma's favorite uncle. That he will be missed, is an understatement.

September 20th, 2018
Juliana Cesano (2 of 2)

A part of us goes with you buddy, and a part of you will always be with us.

Farewell, my friend. Go and reap all the joy you sowed in this lifetime.

Go and bounce in your Tigger costume, and play your songs to the angels.

We love you always. Peace until we meet again.

September 20th, 2018
Into The Real
Dan and Gio Laughing it Up
Gio Diaz Fabiani (1 of 3)

Thinking a lot about 611 (we had codenames for each other) and about the last few times we sat at our desks. I was reading "Salinger's Nine" Stories...and it was really great to meet someone who enjoyed Salinger as much . . .

September 24th, 2018
Gio Diaz Fabiani (2 of 3)

There were a few lines that made me laugh and he would ask me to read them out loud.

There is this particular line I read to him which keeps floating around in my mind and reminds me of these and many other times we started our work day laughing . . .

September 24th, 2018
Gio Diaz Fabiani (3 of 3)

... "I mean you didn't really know Walt," said Eloise at a quarter of five, lying on her back on the floor, a drink balanced upright on her small-breasted chest.

"He was the only boy I ever knew that could make me laugh. I mean really laugh."

September 24th, 2018
With Amy Fischer Roth
Lakshmi Kapoor Willis

Strong survivor
Released into the cosmos
Your seeds were planted
Now you reap the rewards
Sorry for your loss
Valery and all who cared

September 27th, 2018
Dan 2017
Russel Schenke (1 of 2)

We lost a great friend and a very special person today. I'm proud to have known him, learned from him, hung out with him, laughed with him, created music with him for over 35 years.

Love for Dan is exploding on FB and is so awesome to see, but hardly a surprise . . .

September 20th, 2018
Russel Schenke (2 of 2)

... Condolences to all of Dan's loved ones. With the pain, comes great joy in my memories and all of the memories of those who he shared so much with.

Thanks, Dan Smolla, you'll always be with me and so many others.

September 20th, 2018
Forest Film Cafe Movie Project
With his niece JoAnna Smolla, 2007
Mary Zerkel

I knew Dan from in the DeKalb days, have lots of fond memories of his talent and humor. My condolences to the whole family, sending love from Chicago.

September 20th, 2018
Acting In his Movie
Bill Leighly

Dan, you were always my inspiration... I strove to write as well as you...

I tried to answer your songs, with my own. I tried to match your brilliance. Godspeed brother.

September 19th, 2018
Open Mic
Patricia Clements Buh

Jeff and Family, don’t know if you remember me but I was a friend of Dan’s in high school and college. I know he is at peace, an amazing person who left a huge mark on this world

September 20th, 2018
Bedtime Stories
Dave Lombardi

He loved my kids. He was around for their entire life. My kids grew up with Dan.

He was part of my family. A fixture. He would show up at our door in the morning with a book and stay all day. He would land on the couch and stay all day.

We would go about our regular business and Dan would just be there hanging out. We all love him. He is part of our family. He is my best friend.

September 20th, 2018
With Library Staff
Rehearsal Yoga
An Important Phone Call
Aliens and UFOs
Bill Leighly

I confess to watching
the red meet the black
in your hair
when you write.
And I admit to feeling
the feet of the brown stones
of glass,
of soft glass,
in your eyes
walking thru me
when we talk.
I do not know
if you are my child
or if I am yours,
but I think
that it is something like water
running together in the brain.

(Dan Smolla from the 1989 edition of NIU's "Towers" journal)

September 20th, 2018
Preparing to board UFO
Movie Poster
Patricia Clements Buh (1 of 4)

Dan and I dated through the end of high school and beginning of college.

He was light years ahead of me when it came to understanding our global world view, politics, music and its impact on society- all the heavy stuff.

While he was a major philosopher at a young age he always continued to grow through reading and through his acceptance of so many diverse cultures . . .

October 12th, 2018
Patricia Clements Buh (2 of 4)

We always remained friends-good friends; but, years would go by sometimes without either of us reaching out.

When we would reconnect I would always come away laughing and with a profound sense of wonder at his continued commitment to always be accepting and honest . . .

October 12th, 2018
Patricia Clements Buh (3 of 4)

The last time I saw Dan I had driven him to his first oncology appointment. I did not come away laughing from that meeting; however, in true Dan fashion he took it all in stride and got down to business . . .

October 12th, 2018
Patricia Clements Buh (4 of 4)

What a huge hole now left in our world but I know he is rocking and rolling with the angels or whatever final resting place he has chosen! My sincere condolences to his family and friends.

October 12th, 2018
Dan's Library Event, 2016
Into the Real
With Rod's Family
Scott Schenke

I’m at a loss for words this morning. Just so glad we had a chance to spend some time with him recently.

Condolences to his family and everyone who knew him. Dan was a pure *original* who impacted my life in ways he could never have known.

I’ll be eternally grateful for having had the pleasure of his friendship.

September 20th, 2018
Library Staff
Theosophical Society - 2012
Halloween - 2013
At Denny's with Valery Lanotte after 1st radiation treatment
Tony Pellegrini

My condolences to the Smolla family. Dan's love and encouragement for his bandmates is cherished as much as his music. He is missed by many.

September 20th, 2018
You Want Some of This?
Gio Diaz Fabiani
Gio Diaz Fabiani

Dan was taking me home one day and I told him I would tell him when to turn. He insisted on having the GPS on anyway.

We joked about how this navigation device can take you anywhere, even straight up to space. Right to the moon, as long as you put in the correct address.

September 21st, 2018
Dan at Work
Chilling on the Front Porch
Lee Walters Kramer

To the Smolla family. While I only new Dan in high school and not after, do know that when i reconnected with him on facebook awhile back, it was because he was always friendly to me.

That lends to his character when you can bring a smile to someones face some 30+ years later. Prayers are with you all.

October 11th, 2018
Dan's Beloved Cat, Pumpkin
Macario Lullo (1 of 2)

My deepest condolences to the Smolla family. Dan was a close friend of mine for a too brief period in high school. I had never met anyone quite like him before (or since).

He was funny, talented, curious and at least at that time in our lives, a little nuts . . .

October 12th, 2018
Macario Lullo (2 of 2)

“Smolls” was unique and although our friendship was fleeting, I cherish the times we spent together at parties, hosting the homecoming rally and writing senior skits.

I can’t imagine how much he will be missed by those who had the privilege to remain close to him.

October 12th, 2018
Dan's Father, Richard
Jessica Smolla (1 of 3)

Dan was amazing! He had such a creative, loving heart and soul. And I am proud to say he is my brother-in-love.

If it wasnt for his music and song writing, I may never had had my wonderful husband and children . . .

September 22nd, 2018
Jessica Smolla (2 of 3)

It was through his support of music and art that I met Jeff Smolla! And there are other people that deserve mention because they invited me to hear Jeff Smolla and Bill Leighly play in their band, some of which included Dan's songs . . .

September 22nd, 2018
Jessica Smolla (3 of 3)

Dan bonded with our children and I will always thank him for reminding me to stay forever young. He was so giving to take care of my precious Pumpkin Kitty when I could no longer have him and see him to heaven!

September 22nd, 2018
With Juliana Cesano
Juliana Cesano (1 of 3)

It's hard to put in words what Dan has meant to us all these years... We even have a couch at home reserved for him. That was his safe spot. He would just walk into the house and lie there . . .

September 20th, 2018
Juliana Cesano (2 of 3)

Back when we met, he encouraged me to sing and be the lead singer in three different bands we formed together.

"Just Another Bird" was the first one with Dave Lombardi, "The Alchemists" with a bunch of people, and "Into the Real" with Fred Reich and Steven Hashimoto . . .

September 20th, 2018
Juliana Cesano (3 of 3)

He would write every single song, hand it to me, and let me do whatever the heck I wanted with it.

I have never met a more humble, unselfish, no ego musician like him.

September 20th, 2018
Into The Real
With Rob Winder & Amy Fischer Roth
Rob Winder (1 of 3)

Dan was an exhilarating wind that blew through the library. He found ways to coax some of the best out of everyone he touched, and we’re all better people for having known him.

His over-sized presence and off-the-wall sense of humor made coming to work a joy. It was quite an honor to be one of his co-conspirators on occasion . . .

September 21st, 2018
Rob Winder (2 of 3)

Dan embraced life with a vigor, and gave so much of himself to his work and to the people he served. He was a rare breed. We will probably never know anyone else quite like him.

The world is a much poorer place now that he is gone. We all miss him, but the three of us in his circle feel the loss even more so . . .

September 21st, 2018
Rob Winder (3 of 3)

A gaping hole has opened in our lives, leaving us with the question, how do you fill an emptiness inside yourself that he occupied?

Goodnight sweet prince. Thank you for the laughter and all of the good times we shared. Here’s hoping the afterlife is even bigger, brighter and more amazing than you imagined . . .

September 21st, 2018
Movie Scene from Deedle
With Pablo Sender
Duncan Rouleau‎ (1 of 2)

I bet many of you who got to spend time with him in his later years, are as broken hearted as I am. It was a privilege to know the man.

So much of who I am, and how I live my life I got from spending my time hanging out with that nut and his incredible spirit.

October 12th, 2018
Duncan Rouleau‎ (2 of 2)

I’m completely devastated that he is gone.

I am so glad he had so many people who loved him around to help carry and lift his memory - I can’t think of a better cat who deserves it.

Bye my fellow Bozo. You really were the cool cool coolio.

October 12th, 2018
At Dave Lombardi's Wedding
Swimming in Wind
Amy Waskowiak

I am sorry to hear that. He was a very special person and will be missed.

September 20th, 2018
As Tigger with Amy Fischer Roth
Movie Still
Susan Eichner

I don’t really have the words, Jeff, just a flood of memories.

I’m glad Dan isn’t in any more pain, and I hope that he has peace.

September 20th, 2018
With Robb Winder 2017
Dan's Mom, sister Carol & brother Jeff with JoAnna - 2004
With Friends, 2016
Valery Lanotte (1 of 2)


right or wrong at least you tried
the mind is long and the mind is wide
and nothing lasts forever in the land of time
and looking for the signal is itself a sign

i feel your rhythm i feel your tide
all real beginnings need false ends to unwind . . .

September 27th, 2018
Valery Lanotte (2 of 2)


and i love the danger of mercury wine
i play with riddles and you just sigh
as the light moves the giver to witness and shine
if we never shivered we wouldn't be alive

and for a while i walked without a light
circled left then circled right
but now i hear the water and the bridge is in sight
I’m gonna cross the river-- listen-- hear my feet as they chime

- Dan Smolla

September 27th, 2018
Out Walking
With Kathy Gann

Farewell, Dan Smolla

"Go and reap all the joy you sowed in this lifetime.

Go and bounce in your Tigger costume, and play your songs to the angels.

We love you always. Peace until we meet again."

- Juliana Cesano

May You Rest in Eternal Peace