Daniel Scharfman, a long-time resident who brought an analytical mindset along with a wry sense of humor to the Belmont School Committee, died on Monday, Jan. 21 at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge after suffering a serious heart attack at his home last Tuesday. He was 55.
The announcement of Scharfman's death was made at the annual Martin Luther King Community Breakfast at Belmont High School Monday morning.
"Dan was a deeply committed being who made broad contributions to the town and we all feel a deep sadness with his passing," said Town Moderator Michael Widmer.
"I'm terribly saddened to hear the news about Dan," said State Rep. Dave Rogers. "He was a great leader in the community as well as a very kind and decent human being."
"As a marathoner perpetually in training, Dan was a familiar sight running along the streets of Belmont," according to a message issued today, Monday, Jan. 21 by the family
"When he walked, though, he never got very far without being stopped by someone he knew – through his children (and their friends’ parents), or from his work on the school committee and in local politics. He might be described as the unofficial mayor of Belmont; he was not only widely known but universally liked, respected for his essential decency and his remarkable storehouse of knowledge, for the intense seriousness he brought to bear on matters large and small as well as for his humor. Never did such bad jokes come from such a good man.
"Dan’s death at the painfully unripe age of 55 leaves an indescribably vast hole in our lives, but also in the lives of scores of people who cherished his company, admired his contributions to the community, and felt genuinely enriched by having known him," reads the family message.
Scharfman, a Town Meeting member from Precinct 1, won a seat on the Belmont School Committee in 2010 after years being active behind the scenes in the community and with the encouragement from many people in town.
In the town election in April, Scharfman received 2,290 votes finishing second to Laurie Slap in a race for two seats on the committee.
Scharfman worked to revamp payments and costs for athletics and extracurricular activities and advocated for new technological-based methods to facilitate teaching.
Scharfman was also known for reaching out to students, especially those in High School, as well instigating very thoughtful discussions on a myriad of subjects. He was also known for a wry sense of humor that he used with great delight.
One of Scharfman's favorite quotes was "If you haven't got anything to say, you might as well say it pompously."
In 2012, Scharfman announced his candidacy for Board of Selectmen after the retirement of Angelo Firenze. The contest with Andy Rojas would result in the closest two-person Selectmen's race in town history, with approximately 35 votes separating the two out of 4,300 votes cast with Rojas coming out on top.
"It was a tremendous experience running against him. Not only did I learn so much but I really got to enjoy him ... he was the nicest man to have run against you," said Rojas.
"It's not just an amazing lose for the school committee but for Belmont and all of town government," said Rojas. "His is a voice that will not be heard and that's what we lost today."
Scharfman was born on the last day of 1957 and educated in Lexington and was a 1975 graduate of Lexington High School. He received his BA and MA in the Classics from Brown University in 1979, where his son, Jacob, is currently matriculating. Scharfman continued his involvement with his alma mater interviewing perspective students in the Belmont Center Starbucks.
For the past 30 years, Scharfman has been an employee of Baird Associates, most recently as vice president of Information Solutions.
Scharfman was a member of the board for 24 years of The Cantata Singers, for part of that time, he was chairman of the board and sang in the chorus, president of The Children's Village and a trustee of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, following his mother's lead who once was president of the state League.
Twenty years ago, Scharfman moved with his wife, Merle, and his two children, Jacob and Rachel, to School Street in Belmont.
In the past decade, Scharfman had become a dedicated long-distance runner, having completed the BAA Marathon and in 2012, three ultra-races of up to 50 miles. He was currently training for a 100-mile race this June in Weston.
On his Facebook page, the final photo of Scharfman is of him and friends running to the top of Heartbreak Hill in Newton on New Year's Day.
"The perfect way to start a new year 1/1/13 at the top Heartbreak Hill," wrote Scharfman.
Scharfman is survived by his wife, Merle Kummer; children, Jacob and Rachel; father, Howard Scharfman; brother, Paul Scharfman; sister, Helen Scharfman; stepmother, Esther Scharfman; stepbrother Thomas Wiedman and a community of friends.
Services will be held Wednesday, Jan 23, at 11 a.m. at Beth El Temple on Concord Avenue.
The family will receive visitors at 79 School St. on Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Contributions may be made to The Dan Scharfman Education Fund, Belmont Savings Bank, 2 Leonard St, Belmont Mass., 02478