“Dick” Howard Danford, 73 of Panama City Beach, passed away May 4, 2019 at his home. Dick was born November 1, 1945 in Morristown, NJ to Harold and Kathryn (Mader) Danford and they moved to Clearwater, FL where Dick was raised and began his love of fishing with his parents participating in local Tarpon Tournaments. He was an All-State basketball player at Clearwater High School and was the second athlete ever inducted into the Clearwater High School Hall of Fame. He was the captain of the FSU basketball team his senior year and graduated from FSU with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education in 1967. He returned to FSU in 1971 as freshmen coach. The Seminoles played for the NCAA National Championship that year losing in the finals against UCLA. He went on to earn his Master’s Degree in Educational Administration from FSU. Dick’s career was primarily that of education and coaching basketball. He began his career at Dunedin High School and moved to Madison, FL where he taught at Madison Jr. College and Gulf Coast Community College and retired from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, TX, after turning their basketball program around (69 NCAA Division I victories) in order to come back to his beloved Panama City Beach. He taught industrial arts at Jinks Middle School and received many honors such as being selected teacher of the year and Golden Apple Award Winner. Apart from his thirty years of teaching, Dick loved the water and spent most of his free time diving, sailing, boating, scalloping, spearfishing, fishing and fossil hunting with his wife and friends in many exotic areas and always had the next excursion planned—usually Southbound after the last day of school or in the Keys over the Christmas Break. Dick captained his own boat with family and friends by his side exploring the Abaco and Exuma Islands as well as chartering boats in Belize and San Juan Islands. He also loved restoring antique cars, wood working and camping with his travelling buddies, Susan and their puppy, Calypso. Together they camped along the eastern seaboard from Maine to the Florida Keys and out West. They enjoyed going to the mountains in the hot summer months to their cabin in N. Carolina. Needless to say, boredom was not in Dick’s vocabulary. Dick is preceded in death by his parents as well as his sisters, Jackie King and Patsy Archibald. Coach Danford made his best call ever on September 6, 1982 when he married Susan Dean who resides in Panama City Beach. Dick is also survived by his nephew, Christopher Wilson of St. Petersburg; grand nephews Danford and Nicholas Wilson both of St. Petersburg and several grand-nieces; nieces, Katie (Geoff) Lowe of Nassau, Betsy (Kevin) Murdock of Tampa and Lynn (Tom) Hugett of Clearwater, FL; nephew, Greg Scalf; sister-in-law, Cheryl (Allen) Page of Panama City Beach; brothers-in-law, Michael (Laura) Dean of Clarksville, TN and Mitchell Dean of Panama City; cousins, Peggy (Roger) Stafford of South Florida and Jack Mader of Sugarloaf Key. A gentle giant whose mere presence commanded authority, he was a man whose words were powerful. His bucket list was accomplished and refilled continuously as he knew every day of life was precious. His friends and family will forever be indebted to him for the lessons bestowed and the friendship he gave freely….always the mentor available to talk, offer advice, or just listen. He was the loyal friend, husband, uncle, cousin, and man that only comes around once in a lifetime. A true teacher, a true coach. He will be missed but never forgotten. Friends and family will be received Saturday, May 18, 2019 from 2-3 pm at the Kent-Forest Lawn Funeral Home where a Celebration of Dick’s Life will take place immediately following. Following this gathering, the celebration will continue at Venture Out Clubhouse on Panama City Beach. To read Dick’s obituary, view his memorial video or leave a memory or condolence, please visit www.kentforestlawn.com. In lieu of flowers, please donate a book to your local library in his name as a permanent testimony of Dick’s passion for education.
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