Growing up in Highland Park, Illinois, Dan attended Highland Park High School and played football and baseball for four years. He co-captained the football team and was named All-State his senior year. He attended the University of Colorado for one year and played freshmen football on an athletic scholarship.
He entered Lake Forest College in 1954 and went on to earn three letters in football and one in baseball. A three time All-Conference player, he also received Little All America honors his junior and senior years. A social affiliate of Phi Delta Theta, he was also active in the Garrick Players, Junior Prom Committee and served as secretary for the Lettermen's Club.
Following graduation Dan, a speech major, was drafted into the U.S. Army. While serving in Germany he also played for the Post baseball and football teams. Honorably discharged in 1959, he embarked on a career in Industrial Auctioneering.