Daniel memorial celebration set for April 20 at Convention Center

A memorial ceremony will be held April 20 at the Ocean Shores Convention Center for City Councilman and real estate broker Jeff Daniel, who was killed Feb. 25 while surfing at the North Jetty.

Daniel, 50, was one of the area’s most recognized promoters of the North Beach at the John L. Scott office in Ocean Shores. He also was well known as a race car driver/owner at Grays Harbor Raceway, and was past president of the Ocean Shores/North Beach Chamber of Commerce among his many civic contributions.

He is survived by his wife, JoKay Daniel, and son Alex. In announcing the date for the memorial on Sunday, JoKay Daniel also posted on her Facebook page: “Alex and I are so thankful for the amazing love and support showered on us. We are crushed beyond any words and appreciate all of you so much.”

Community reaction

Ocean Shores Mayor Crystal Dingler wrote a statement that Daniel was “doing what he loved” at the time he died. “Jeff lived his life with passion and great energy. He worked hard and played hard, with a boundless energy to achieve and make a difference. Jeff wrote a book about his upbringing, he and his son produced a music CD, and he was top flight at selling real estate. He was also a brilliant strategist, grounding his ideas with logic and data. His quirky sense of humor was, as often as not, aimed at himself,” Dingler said.

“Passionate about his community, Jeff felt he needed to pay back for the success he had achieved. He most recently served as Chair of the Planning Commission, President of the Chamber of Commerce Board, and was appointed to fill out a City Council position, where he worked tirelessly. He drove hard, sharing his opinions widely on the ideas he thought were best for the community, pushing forward on his vision of managed growth, leading us toward a major revitalization project at the north end of the Great Canal, and supporting environmental projects.”

“Without pretensions or self-interest, Jeff shared his expertise to protect the environment, and his hard won insights to improve the community. He spoke passionately about the ideas he believed in on the City Council, and stood up for what he thought was right.

“He played in the ocean whenever he could get out there and loved to race his car. He was competitive, daring, and liked living on the edge.”

Most of all, Dingler continued, “Jeff was passionate about his family. He loved his wife and son. They were frequently a part of his conversation. He often shared his pride in their achievements and just the joy of having them in his life. Jeff took nothing for granted. He was absolutely aware at all times of how fortunate he was. His giving back to the community of himself, of the money he had earned, of his experience and ideas, was boundless.”

Dingler concluded: “We will miss Jeff. Some will pick up the mantle of his ideas and projects, some will be influenced by his immersion in the community, and others will just remember the man. We wish his family and close friends comfort in their grief. We have all lost a very special human being.”

Longtime Grays Harbor real estate broker Tom Quigg began his latest Grays Harbor at a Glance market report with a tribute to Daniel: “Jeff was the leading real estate broker in Grays Harbor, and one of the leading brokers in the entire state. His untimely death leaves a large void in the real estate industry, and our community. He will be missed a great deal.”

Cause of death

Autopsy results released last Friday showed the cause of Daniel’s death to be drowning. Friends said he was using a new paddle board or “waveski,” made by Macski Surf Gear, on a fairly calm day, surfing only hours before he was scheduled to attend the regular City Council meeting scheduled that evening.

Sgt. David McManus of the Ocean Shores Police Department said Daniel was wearing a wetsuit, but not wearing a personal flotation device or a helmet. “No one reported seeing him go down, but people on the beach saw the board floating in the surf, and then realized that he was under it beneath the surface of the water,” McManus said.

When the bystanders pulled him out of the water, they also had trouble disengaging the seatbelt that had him strapped to the board, he added.

Daniel had been an Ocean Shores resident since 2005, and also served as Parks Board chairman (2007), Ocean Shores Little League baseball and soccer coach (2007-08), and he was listed as the top-producing real estate broker in Ocean Shores since 2008.

Council replacement process

The Ocean Shores City Council will begin the process of selecting another new member to replace Daniel, who also was selected by sitting council members as a replacement last year for Holly Plackett, who moved to Hawaii. The formal announcement of the vacancy will be made at the March 11 regular Council meeting. The council last year also chose a replacement for Bob Crumpacker, who similarly died in office.

The Council recently revised the process for selecting a member for a vacancy, but many of the initial requirements are the same:

Applicants must first write a letter or send a resume by 2 p.m. on March 25 to the City Clerk via email or drop it off at Utility Billing. Applicants may also mail their letter or resume to City Clerk, PO Box 909, Ocean Shores, WA 98569. To qualify, an applicant must have at least one year of full-time residence in the city, be a current registered voter in the district, and be able to serve out the term until the next election certification.

On April 5, the city will announce the applicants and release copies of the letters and resumes in advance of the April 8 council meeting, where each applicant will be able to speak individually for three minutes before council questions are asked.

The council then deliberates in executive session, reconvenes, and votes under the following process:

• All Council members will have their names chosen at random from a container by the mayor, and that member will have the option of nominating a person for the open position.

• The Council will vote on the person nominated; if there are four yes votes, then the applicant becomes a Council member. If there are not four yes votes, the mayor will then select another member’s name for a potential nomination. Council members may only vote once per round, and during the first round, the mayor may not break a tie, which is a change from the past procedure.