ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Daniel Douglas DeHart, 70, passed quietly into the Lord’s healing arms on May 6, 2020, from complications of rapid onset leukemia. He was a longstanding resident of Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, but his true home on earth-and the place he loved most-was the Chesapeake Bay. It was there he shared the joys of boating, fishing, and hunting early on with boyhood friends, and later cruising, boating and fishing with his wife, June Langston DeHart, and daughter, Ashley DeHart Russo, also of Alexandria. He was a loving husband, father, son, uncle, grandfather, and friend to many.
Boating was a central theme for him beginning with his first boat, a Grady White, the Ashley C, and then an Egg Harbor Just Because, berthed at the Corinthian Yacht Club near Ridge, Maryland, where he and his mother, the late Freda DeHart and stepfather Bo Boehley, had been longstanding members. Many a rockfish and blue fish were caught in those southern Maryland waters, and with his friend, John Mingo, developed an outstanding technique for catching rockfish on the flyrod. See Flyfisherman Magazine (September 1998). One cold Veterans holiday, he and John caught and released over 100 rockfish. A thrilling day!
Since 2008, Dan and June docked their MJM Spirit on the Tred Avon River in Oxford, Maryland, where they cruised the Intercoastal Waterway, a seminal experience, and to ports around the Bay. Dan soon became a local light and close neighbor to many at the Bachelor Point community, where they bought a house in 2012. Always undertaking every job, volunteer or career, with focus and diligence, he upgraded docks as Dockmaster and President of the BPHOA. They welcomed guests from near and far, from friends and extended family members on holidays, to fellow members of the Poplar Islands Yacht Club, of which Dan served as Commodore in 2018, and Tred Avon Yacht Club where Dan was fascinated learning about the world of sailboat racing. Hosting daughter Ashley, son-in-law Tony, and their precious grandchildren Margot and Everitt was a favorite weekend past-time with many a lunch on board and swim off the transom of Spirit. They are his pride and joy. He loved fishing from his Parker, the Just Because II, and his double catch of two keeper rockfish on the same lure made the marina bulletin boards.
For many of you, his culinary talents are legendary. Recall how masterly he carved a Thanksgiving turkey and then re-covered it with its skin as if never touched, to present it at table as if right from the oven. He treated guests to their favorite libation and often a special recipe he pulled off the internet. One of his favorites, Ina Garten’s Beef Bourguignon, is a must try for any cook. He excelled in the kitchen at both the simple and the complex: he could delight in preparing a newspaper-covered table of Old Bay-scented crabs, or a duck a l ‘orange for Christmas dinner. His brioche French Toast delighted his grandchildren and niece and nephew, Anna Maria and Alex, who enjoyed week-long summer visits, crabbing, fishing, and trips to the beach. He fiercely guarded his kitchen domain for his labors of love, and June was relegated to table setting and flowers. He enjoyed a weekend bourbon and cigar on the patio.
Dan was a man who thought before he spoke, and was a careful observer-of the nature around him, and of human nature, as well. He treasured and was protective of the joys of family life from early on: After his father passed away when he was 12, and his mother set about building a career, he attended Randolph-Macon Military Academy, and graduated from Randolph-Macon College, an experience that formed his character and outlook. He was a great storyteller, enjoyed a good laugh, was strict on table manners, and could evoke a time and place with a phrase. Who hasn’t heard his nom for June’s early morning quiet time -Coffee Chapel! His niece and nephew experienced the benefits of his famous “bad rules and strict discipline”, and they loved him all the more for it. His knowledge and skills were vast from selecting the perfect wine to tracking the markets. He loved to cheer on the University of Miami Hurricanes football team with Ashley, a graduate. “Go Canes!” He had a passion for his hobbies and was a great teacher. He ran two marathons. He could repair anything! And so handsome to boot!
Dan enjoyed a successful career in Alexandria and northern Virginia, prior to retirement, as a well-known and respected commercial and residential real estate appraiser. Yet while adhering to the rigorous schedule, turn-around, and demands of appraising, he focused on keeping close the ones he loved. He cherished his drives with Ashley to school each day, never missed a volleyball game, hosted sleep-overs, weekend visits, Halloween crawls, and made parent’s days and graduations throughout her school days and college. So loving and caring, he made sure to take his football-loving mother-in-law to the last Redskins game at RFK Stadium and then the first game at the new Fed-Ex Field. He cared for his own mother when as she was dying of cancer, and helped June with her mother in her last years.
Dan lived by a code of honor and manners that he had gleaned from his family, his education, and his quiet faith. He wasn’t one for any kind of showy individualism. He moved with quiet confidence in a time-and in a city-when far too many people talk too much about too little, but lived, and held dear, the “every day” man he was. He was the solid rock, true north, for June, Ashley and Tony and their children, and family and friends. He was June’s soulmate and best friend, sharing the deepest love and 25 years of the happiest marriage.
We will all miss him so, so much, but commit him to the Lord, and his safekeeping. Thank you for flying the flag at half-mast at Bachelor Point. He loved it so.
In lieu of flowers, charitable donations may be made in his name to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.