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Artist, DJ Edgar Daniel Stroke dies at 51

Edgar Daniel Stroke's life in the arts started young - violin in kindergarten followed by piano lessons and dance - and grew into a career that spanned theater, music and film.

Those who knew Stroke said he pursued his artistic ventures with passion in a career that focused largely on lighting and set design, but also encompassed writing and directing short films and plays, and creating live performances. In the 1980s disco era, he worked as nightclub DJ "Devastation Dan," known for exuberant shows. For the past three decades, Stroke worked while battling the rare acinic cell cancer - cancer of the salivary gland.

Stroke, who grew up in Stony Brook, died Oct. 26 in a Seattle, Wash., hospital. He was 51 years old.

"Not only did he live for 30 years battling this cancer, he had this incredibly positive spirit," said Marija Stroke, one of Edgar Stroke's first cousins. He completed his last project, a lighting design, this summer in Oregon, Marija Stroke said.

"He had to be transported, lying down. He planned this whole lighting design, directed it from his wheelchair," she said. "That was the amazing thing about him, this will to live a full life."

Marija Stroke of Manhattan spoke on behalf of the family as Edgar Stroke's mother, Beruria Stroke, flew back home to Stony Brook yesterday. Marija Stroke said his mother had cared for him during his treatment for the past three years.

In the early 1970s, Stroke was immersed in arts through the Slavic Cultural Center in Port Jefferson, connecting with his parents' heritage as immigrants from the former Yugoslavia.

In 1979, Stroke became the first assistant technical director at Stony Brook University's Fine Arts Center, now the Staller Center for the Arts. During his years there, Stroke earned his bachelor's degree. He served as the center's technical director from 1983 to 1985.

Staller Center director Alan Inkles was a Stony Brook student when he worked with Stroke at the arts center. "Edgar was a one-man show." Inkles said.

Stroke earned a master of fine arts degree from the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Televison, Los Angeles. As his illness progressed, Stroke returned to live show production, including lighting design for many rock music shows for performers such as Pat Benatar and Bruce Springsteen.

Stroke is survived by his mother.

A funeral service is scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday at the Star of David Chapel in West Babylon, with burial to follow at the New Montefiore Cemetery in West Babylon.

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