Daniel Ponso 1944 - 2021

Daniel Ponso died peacefully in his sleep, at the age of 76, with his wife Linda by his side on April 11, 2021. Dan spent his childhood in San Pedro, California, with a doting mother and proud Italian father. He loved to play outside with the neighborhood kids and spent much of his youth devoted to playing baseball. A natural artist, Dan also enjoyed the solitude of painting, sculpting, drawing and, of course, listening to his favorite songs. He attended California State University at Long Beach, where he began his studies in art. While there, he held one of his all-time favorite jobs, working with kids and coaching baseball at Peck Park. He reflected on those days with fondness and would recall eating salami and bread from a nearby Italian deli.

In June of 1975, Dan was married to the love of his life, Linda. They spent their first three years of marriage in California, where they both taught school. In 1978, they moved to McMinnville, Oregon. Dan and Linda had their first daughter, Angie, in September of 1979, and Stephanie came next in June of 1981. Dan loved playing outside with the girls and teaching them sports as they got older. He took them camping, introduced outdoor cooking, and could easily captivate them with an impromptu story like Alligator Island. He shared his love of art and music often and trained them in the time-honored skills of handmade Italian ravioli. Dan spent years developing and honing his cooking skills. He loved to read recipes aloud and ponder ways to make them better or more unique. His signature recipe was undoubtedly the spaghetti sauce, Ponso Sauce. On the stove by dawn, he would let it simmer all day long and loved to serve it with mostaccioli al dente. On the most special occasions, his signature sauce was accompanied by the Ponso family traditional ravioli recipe, and that was heaven. By 2009, he had the honor of passing this culinary tradition on to yet another generation of Ponsos. His older daughter, Angie, and her husband, Doug Smith, gave Dan his beautiful granddaughters, Lydia and Gia Ponso.

As a brilliant storyteller with a quick wit, Dan could capture an audience with ease. This, of course, led to him being a truly amazing teacher. Over his 24-year career in McMinnville, he taught art, history and social studies while somehow managing to make them all seem equally interesting. Enhancing the excitement of a classroom by creating traditions like the “Snow Chant” made him so uplifting and memorable. He had a way of connecting to kids through art and storytelling that was unparalleled. He was ambitious and got excited about taking on big art projects. He coveted each step of the planning process with the utmost precision. At Rogers Junior High School in California, he arranged for students to paint murals on public buses still in use on the roads. He used this as a way to spread art all around the city on more than one occasion. He painted multiple murals, including the mustang pack that spanned the width of what was once called the “McMinnville Junior High School” gym. He also painted the Duniway Dragon upon the grand opening of the second middle school in McMinnville in 1994. Dan had a genuine gift of humor and charisma that we all loved. He had a talent in art that could be easily envied. He was kind, smart and caring. He will be forever loved and missed.

Memorial contributions may be made to Parkinson’s Resources of Oregon, in care of Macy & Son. A memorial service will be held in the near future, when we can all gather safely. Until then, please share your favorite Ponso memories at Macy’s website: www.macyandson.com.


Nolan Voyd

Dan was a personable man who very much connected with students and fellow teachers. The two of us enjoyed many moments together and had a good basis for friendship.


Dan was kind and gracious to everyone. Even in his last few years of failing health, he continued to be positive and offer emotional support for us all. My mother met him just a few years ago at the Assisted Living center where they resided and thought his was the sweetest "young man", always smiling and willing to share memories.

My family will miss him greatly.

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