Donna Geminder was hoping for a second baby girl. Her first, Jessica, was such an easy baby. But when Damian arrived, she loved him with her whole heart.

That’s how we all felt when we first met Damian. He was a joy to be around.

Damian was brilliant. It was incredible how much he knew about so many things. I would tell people that if you ever got in the TV reality show, “Cash Cab” and had a mobile shout out, call Damian. In the “Sheer Joy” issue of The American Feminist, his parents shared their charming story of his love of maps. As a child, he had not only his neighborhood map memorized, but the entire world atlas. As an adult, he knew the districts of every hotly contested election in the country. Yet he never boasted or belittled anyone. His kindness was only matched by his sense of humor. He kept the staff in stitches.

His mother told me that he would send beautiful, sentimental Mother ’s Day cards. But her favorite was typical of his dry humor. It read, “You’ve been like a mother to me.”

For his entire professional career, he served the needs of women and children. First introduced to Feminists for Life by his big sister, Jess, who shared her copies of The American Feminist and generously suggested donations to FFL in lieu of her wedding presents, Damian would intern at FFL right after receiving his undergraduate degree. We met in person at our annual Capitol Hill Intern Briefing. After diligently working on a variety of projects, he went back to earn his master’s in journalism, all the while volunteering for us as a content and copy editor for the magazine, and as our Twitter coordinator.

When he graduated, I told him I wanted him on staff. I asked if he could meet me at Yale for
the job interview where I was scheduled to argue the motion, “Be it resolved that pro-life is
pro-woman,” before seven societies in a formal parliamentarian-style setting. As I delivered “The Feminist Case Against Abortion” and one team after another would argue back and forth, he tweeted the entire event. (And yes, the pro-life side won the argument—a historic university debate first—because we are also pro-woman.) We also won a team member to FFL who truly enjoyed working with student leaders.

We picked his first day for him to start at FFL on Susan B. Anthony’s birthday, February 15, 2016. Little did I know that Damian was raised in a home first owned by a New York suffragist, now the rectory where his father is the pastor. Damian was delighted when the home received a historic marker during the centennial anniversary of women’s suffrage.

He became my right hand—and was promoted to become our director of public education and editor. Both night owls, we would be on the phone throughout the day and night fighting evil and death with peaceful, woman-centered resources. Meanwhile, his father would forward the parish phones to their home, and Damian shocked one man when calling at 3 AM to check on the Mass schedule, Damian answered, “St. Mary’s. May I help you?”

During the national March for Life in Washington, DC, Damian would pass out hundreds of placards declaring “Women Deserve Better than Abortion” and “Peace Begins in the Womb.” People would say, “See you next year!” He’d tell them he hoped not, preferring to see the end of Roe, that abortion would be ended.

Damian with his friend, a seminarian, at the 2023 March for Life, the first after the Dobbs decision.

Of course, after the US Supreme Court reversed Roe and sent abortion back to the states, we faced a federal government working hard to push abortion rather than woman-centered solutions, and college administrators pushing chemical poison pills rather than resources for student-parents. Damian once again helped get our message out to the masses at the March and at Students for Life’s national conference by providing our “Pro-Woman Answers
to Pro-Choice QuestionsSM”, pro-life feminist history, pro-woman messages, and pro-woman solutions.

After his father called to tell me that Damian had suffered a massive heart attack on March 1st, the first day of Women’s History Month—our days while he was hospitalized became repetitive. Cry. Pray. Work. Repeat.

I learned so much more about Damian during the seven and a half weeks while he was in the hospital, and more following his heart-shattering death when his parents said their final goodbye to their only beloved son.

I had no idea he was a baby whisperer. Like my mother, (also named Donna), children who were fussy or crying would find peace in his arms.

His father, who joyfully announced, “I have a son!” at his birth thirty-three years earlier, told me that during his entire life, they never had a cross word. Never.

For a while, Damian worked part-time for the local pregnancy care centers, (Long Island Coalition for Life), while also working for FFL, but I had no idea how much work he performed for his church with the website, social media, choir, events, studies, and so much more.

After his heart attack, tens of thousands prayed for Damian and his family during his hospitalization. His wake and funeral mass celebrated by his father as his final gift to Damian were attended by hundreds, with lines of people waiting outside the church. The police would stop traffic all the way to his private burial.

People from all walks of life — from his gym coach to restaurant owners —wrote Damian’s family with stories of his many kindnesses.

FFL Board member Susan Shoppa wrote, “Damian was outside the Supreme Court when Dobbs was argued. He saw it overturn Roe, and he marched in the historic first ever post-Roe March for Life!…Damian did not need to do or say any more. His life and work are complete and show us what we are to continue doing for women, children, and men.”

When we first learned of Damian’s heart attack, the staff had a refrain, “Do it for Damian!” As editor of 300 articles on the Women Deserve Better helpsite, he would have smiled but nicely corrected us, “No. Do it for women and children.”