Curtis Ben Danning
December 3, 1920 – February 27, 2020
Ben was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, and was the youngest of six children of Robert and Jennie Danning. He attended Los Angeles High School and was an excellent student as well as the starting catcher for its baseball team. He was the brother of former New York Giants major league catching star Harry Danning and remained a huge baseball fan his entire life. After graduating in 1942 from the University of California, Berkeley, Ben joined the U.S. Navy during World War II, and as a lieutenant served as a gunnery officer on the destroyer U.S.S. Helm in the Pacific. As a gunnery officer, his “battle station” was the ship’s bridge, and he was involved in 20 campaigns and battles, including the Battle of Leyte Gulf and the January, 1945 Lingayen Gulf landings, during which the U.S.S Helm and other ships were attacked by Japanese Kamikaze planes. In 1945, Ben was detached from the Navy and eventually attached to the Army’s JASCO (Joint Assault Signal Company) as a gunfire liaison officer in preparation for the planned invasion of Japan, but Japan surrendered before the invasion could take place. In 1949 he was admitted into UCLA’s first law school class, and he ultimately started a bankruptcy law firm which has become one of the leading bankruptcy firms in Los Angeles and which still exists today after 66 years as Danning, Gill, Israel & Krasnoff. Ben was a beloved and greatly respected member of the city’s bankruptcy law community and was admired for his intellect, honesty, integrity, and sense of humor.
As a father, he instilled his love for baseball into his four sons – David, Stephen, Matthew, and Gordon – and to the end of his life would often e-mail them his opinion about some “awful call” by an umpire or unwise strategic move by a team’s manager. Ben taught each of his sons the values of honesty, integrity, and compassion by which he lived his own life, as well as how to think logically and systematically. He was always available for each of his sons when they needed advice or support. He was a lifelong progressive Democrat. As he always told his sons, Ben lived a “great life,” and was lucky to have had not just one, but two wonderful wives, Zalotta and Florence, both of whom pre-deceased him. In his later years he enjoyed many hours losing in Scrabble to his dear friend Lila Silvern.
In addition to his sons and Lila, he will be greatly missed by David’s wife, Nancy Wagman; Matthew’s wife, Erika Seid; Michael and Shelley Krall; his grandchildren, Zack and Becky Danning and Jordan, Jake, and Abby Krall; nieces Trude Skolnick, Sydney Hirsch, DeeDee Kaplan, Donna Gonzalez, and Vikki Voller; his caregiver, Alescia Hartfield; Eric Silvern; other extended family members; and former law firm colleagues and partners, including David Gill, Jim Joseph, Richard Diamond, Howard Kollitz, Jackie Dahlstrum, Beverly Lew, and many others.
Funeral services were at Hillside Memorial Park on Tuesday, March 3. Donations in Ben’s memory may be made to the Curtis B. Danning Scholarship at UCLA Law School, or to the charitable organization of one’s choice.