Dan Van Mourik left an indelible stamp on Charlotte’s LGBTQ community. Ironically, he probably wouldn’t see it that way and even prefer to have his passing slip away quietly and relatively unnoticed.
It would be an injustice, however, not to recognize the man’s contributions to our community’s growth.
Van Mourik was born in Blue Island, Wisconsin on November 8, 1948, to his parents Peter and Dorothy, who preceded him in death.
He attended high school in the town of Schofield, Wisconsin and graduated in 1966 from DC Everest High school.
Van Mourik moved to Charlotte in 1986, taking a position with Carowinds as the stage director for the entertainment theme park, which splits the borders of North and South Carolina and attacks visitors from all around the globe.
Friends have said that he loved the production aspect of creating entertainment for so many people, and enjoyed working with young talent that would appear each season for new productions. He often said the responsibility made him feel like a stage father.
A renaissance man of many creative talents, Van Mourik would eventually leave Carowinds and make the decision to share his energy with the city’s growing LGBTQ community.
In the early 1990s he served as associate editor for Qnotes. From 1992 to 2000 he would take on the dual rolls of editor and graphic designer for another local gay publication known as Blue Knights, which has since ceased publication.
During the final years of Blue Knights, he would also return to Qnotes, this time offering his talents as a graphic designer from 1998 to 2000.
But that wasn’t the end of his contributions to the city’s LGBTQ community. As he aged, he retained the desire to be involved and active, but in a position somewhat less cerebral.
While he continued to enjoy writing as a means of creative self-expression, he kept his finger in the professional side of the business and published a number of successful romance novels, as well.
In an effort to stay connected with the community on an in-person level, he eventually took a position at White Rabbit Books, where he initially worked as a sales clerk before transitioning into the store manager position. In total, he spent 10 years there, and was always ready to greet potential customers with a friendly smile and kind words.
He stayed with the company until 2010, when he made the decision to retire.
Another important contribution that can’t go unrecognized: in the early 1990s, during the continuing years of the AIDS pandemic, Van Mourik was a founding member of the AIDS service organization ACCESS, which was created because of challenges faced by clients with the since defunct Metrolina AIDS Project.
In the years that followed, Van Mourik came to embrace his solitude and intensely private nature, finding happiness with friends and sharing with them a huge collection of films on DVD, numbering over 3,000.
According to those friends, during that time Van Mourik was never happier than when he was at home in his living room, watching an old movie and having a nice dinner alone or with friends.
A resourceful and frugal individual, he learned ways of stretching his economic means to cover his needs without stress. He was known among his compatriots as one of the most thorough and organized people one could encounter and revered by many as an interesting conversationalist, always easily motivated to discuss film and LGBTQ issues.
Earlier this year, at the age of 73, Van Mourik discovered he was facing serious health issues, stage two lung cancer, which required surgery to remove a portion of one of his lungs.
Not surprisingly, he bounced back following the procedure with flying colors. His prognosis was good and his doctors expected that he still had many more years ahead of him.
Unknown to friends, caretakers and Van Mourik, the surgery took a toll on his body that led to a fatal heart attack sometime on or around October 15, just a month short of his 74th birthday.
A man who dedicated his life to contributing through creativity to the community around him and finding happiness, peace and contentment as it came his way, Van Mourik was universally supportive and subscribed to no particular faith or religion.
As a result, he had no desire for a religious service of any sort, preferring only a simple cremation.
While Van Mourik is no longer with us in body, the contributions he made to the LGBTQ community in Charlotte will always remain, through his creativity in performance, artistic design and the written word.