Obituary: Daniel Sarnowski June 16, 1971-Feb. 20, 2023

Daniel “Danny” Sarnowski June 16, 1971-Feb. 20, 2023

Daniel “Danny” Sarnowski – “Starling”, the name he chose and loved as a trapeze performer, succumbed to his struggles with an addiction to painkiller drugs at 2 a.m. Feb. 20, 2023 in Oakland, Calif.

His friend of 31 years, Ena, was at his bedside holding his hand, where, with his last breath of life, Danny opened his eyes and looked at her. As Danny’s mom, who was unable to be with him, the sweetness of this final connection of their friendship could never be described or be more appreciated by me.

Danny was born on June 16, 1971 in Chicago, Illinois and was adopted by me, Elizabeth “Betty” Jacob. He was brought into our home bundled up in a receiving blanket into our hearts on July 20, 1971. Danny was welcomed at four weeks old by the many family and friends of the Bill Gorski family.

Danny was living with his family in early childhood in a few different areas around Chicago until we settled in a home in Arlington Heights, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.

From early on in his childhood, Danny displayed his imagination for play-acting where he would compose theatrical performances by dressing up his brother, David, and cousins Mickie and Jillian in costumes for their amusement as well as the family’s. Danny was talented as well in art and would have been acknowledged by his high school art instructor with a scholarship to an art school in Chicago had he not decided to quit school three months before his graduation. He had an A scholastic average throughout high school. The entire high school’s atmosphere and peer harassment led him to leave.

Danny was a free spirit, something that everyone knew and loved about him. At 19 years old, Danny left Arlington Heights and ventured to Boulder, Colo., with little financial means. He lived in a tent in the foothills of Boulder up until the cold and snow drove him to find a place to live in Boulder. He worked at various jobs, but employment was sparse. He endured quite a hardship while living there but he displayed an incredible positive attitude through his letters to me and a determination to accomplish his goals.

Danny was inventive when it came to survival and through his love of preparing food he even amazed me with what he could tastefully put together. I was very concerned about his wellbeing  and he said to me, “Mom, don’t worry about me. You taught me how to survive.” He loved Boulder and the friends that he had made at a local tea house playing his violin. But in 1992 he decided to move on.

The next three years, 1992-1995, Danny ventured back to Illinois. Those were years of worry and concern for me as there was no communication from Danny.

I learned that he had been studying photography at school in Chicago where he met and befriended his future trapeze partner, Ena. Together, they left Chicago and traveled around the country, not quite knowing where they wanted to live. They ended up in New Orleans and fell in love with the city.

New Orleans was their introduction to an incredible variety of aesthetics. Danny was enticed into a way to satisfy his free spirit through music, art, dance and an introduction to trapeze performance.

Danny, who was tall, lean and handsome, swam with the dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico and described to me what a phenomenal, wonderful experience it was.

During Danny’s and Ena’s life in New Orleans, they started to learn about trapeze, but it became apparent to them after a couple of years that they needed professional training.

Danny and Ena moved to San Francisco, Calif., to begin their training at the San Francisco School of Circus Arts, the only such school in the United State. They trained under the Mater Lu Yi along with other instructors. After their training and after making their hand-made sequined and beaded costumes, they introduced themselves to the world as “The Starlings”. They performed in the United State and Europe and received rave reviews from such noted papers as the San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian and the San Francisco Weekly with comments such as “the greatest trapeze act anyone can imagine seeing”, “the act that dazzles most of all”, “trust us, you’ve never seen this before”, and “nothing less than stunning”.

Danny also toured internationally with the EAMB, whose instrumentation is entirely brass, drums and bullhorn. The EAMB were provocatively flamboyant cheerleaders with pom-poms and flags to entertain their audiences.

Dnany would spend the remainder of his life in San Francisco and then finally Oakland. During his life in San Francisco, his life experiences continued by earning a teaching certificate in yoga and becoming a licensed bartender. He became so successful bartending that he was known as the “Rock Star Bartender” in San Francisco as well as in Oakland.

As Danny’s mom, I couldn’t be more proud of Danny and his many accomplishments in his almost 52-year journey through life. I am so deeply moved in remembering how close Danny and I became to one another in the past four years. He was my forever-loved son; the food of my soul, my friend and will be so missed by me.

I would like to thank Danny’s many friends who loved him, joined him in his journey and visited him in the hospital at his journey’s end. My heartfelt thank you especially to you, dear Ena.

Mourning with you over our dear Danny.

I’m thinking of the lyrics, “How Can I Mend a Broken Heart … How Can I Live Again?”

Farewell, dearest Danny. I love you, Mom.

Elizabeth “Betty” Jacob, long-time resident of La Cueva Jemez Springs, Los Alamos and Northern New Mexico for 33 years.

Daniel ‘Danny’ Sarnowski. Courtesy photo

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