By day, David Batt was a numbers guy, managing the City of South Pasadena’s finances, overseeing the budget and strategizing for a profitable long-term future.
However, when nighttime arrived, the tune changed completely as the tie came off, the lights dimmed and the music turned up.
Way, way up!
Those he touched over the years gathered inside the South Pasadena Library Community Room last Saturday morning to remember his talents during a celebration of life – reflecting on his significant contributions both night and day.
While he was recognized and praised for his strong work ethic as the city’s director of finance, Batt simply flourished during the evening hours as a renowned pianist, playing for a series of jazz, rock and blues bands.
Those lessons beginning at age 4 paid off handsomely as he became proficient on the piano, his talents appreciated by hundreds enjoying his musical performances and six CDs.
Batt’s low-key, easy-going demeanor won the hearts of many. “David was generous with his helpfulness and was very unassuming,” said Steve Fjeldsted, director of the South Pasadena Library. “He never talked about his musical career unless he was asked, and even then he never showed any signs of conceit or self-centeredness.”
Fjeldsted remembers Batt, who passed away on Oct. 25, 2018 of advanced metastatic prostate cancer, as “a calm, dedicated, accomplished professional,” noting he would stop by the finance director’s office at least once a month. “At first, he seemed rather reserved, but the more I asked him questions, the more he opened up and showed his depth of knowledge in so many areas.”
He took a long path before winding up in South Pasadena. Batt was born in Rapid City, South Dakota, spent much of his life in Sharon, Massachusetts and was a longtime resident of San Diego. Prior to working for the City of South Pasadena, Batt was the finance director for the City of Avalon in Catalina.
Well educated, Batt earned his Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from John Hopkins University and completed a one-year graduate studies program at U.C. Berkeley.
Musically, however, is where he showcased his creative side as a composer, performer and director a series of theatrical productions. Locally, his talents were on display at the city’s Eclectic Festival, featuring many area artists, in the spring.
Batt used his own name for those following his classical music career, but for a younger generation he was known as Yrsan Daro when performing New Age sounds.
In addition, he was a skillful writer, producing both a satirical novel and science fiction screenplay.
Among those recognizing what Batt brought to the City of South Pasadena during Saturday’s memorial were Fjeldsted, City Councilmember Robert Joe, former Assistant City Manager Hilary Straus, former Assistant Finance Director Pearl Liu, former SPPD Captain Mike Neff, former Finance Director Chu Thai, and Batt’s two sisters, Laurie and Valerie. In attendance was City Councilmember Dr. Richard Schneider.