Danny Roy Young: The Mayor has left South Austin

Danny Roy Young, a man whose work and play helped define South Austin, died yesterday from a heart attack. With his passing, we lost a some-time activist, a long-time businessman and musician, and a full-time ambassador for the spirit of Austin.

Danny moved his family in ’75 and “figured out that Austin was exactly where I was meant to be.” Those who lived here pre-bust (as in oil, not tech) might remember the opening of his Texicalli Grill in an abandoned Burger Chef on South Lamar, which later became an institution of sandwiches and music memorabilia in an abandoned Taco Bell on Oltorf (next to Guero’s, now the present-day Curra’s). Danny sold the restaurant in 2006, and it closed the following year.

If you judge a man on the basis of his nicknames, then Danny Roy Young rose higher than most. The “Lord of the Rub board” denotes his enthusiasm for the washboard. He frequently played his custom apparatus around town, most regularly with The Cornell Hurd Band. His title as “Mayor of South Austin” was bequeathed by the Austin Chronicle after he successfully led the opposition to widening South Lamar.

While the designation was unofficial, Danny upheld the title with charm and sincerity that is lacking from most elected offices. Until yesterday’s tragic passing pre-emptively limited his term, the Mayor of South Austin often cruised his districts in a signature ’54 Chevy wagon motorcade, idling in the street to spin yarns with constituents new and old. It’s hard to imagine anyone else who could fill his office.

Michael Corcoran has a nice eulogy for Danny here.

2 Comments so far

  1. odoublegood on August 21st, 2008 @ 8:58 am

    The sad news really got around quickly yesterday, in person via multiple sources and also in at least a dozen different e-mails before midnight, each one containing completely individual and personal recollections, but all of them warm ones. A generous spirit and a great treasure trove of memories and stories of the Austin-that-was has left all those of us remaining here on earth. I hope that somebody was setting them down. Last night, Austin seemed like a small town again.

  2. odoublegood on August 21st, 2008 @ 11:41 am

    Don’t forget that the Cornell Hurd Band, minus Danny Young, will be at the Spoke this Saturday (23 August); there’ll be some great stories to be heard there.

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