Friends remember Colasanti '90 for his good humor

by Alison Schmauch | 10/31/01 6:00am

Christopher Colasanti '90 had been known as "Dom" to his family and friends since seventh grade.

He picked up the name during a basketball game with several older friends. Colasanti, who was playing particularly well, eagerly began running around the court, proclaiming, "I am the dominant force! I am the dominant force!"

Hence "Dom."

A bond trader at the ill-fated World Trade Center firm Cantor Fitzgerald, Colasanti was one of the victims in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York.

Nearly every one of Colasanti's friends who were interviewed for this piece retold the story behind the nickname "Dom." It exemplified the good cheer and self-deprecating sense of humor that drew people to Colasanti since his childhood.

"We lived in South Orange, N.J. when Chris was growing up," recalled Tony Colasanti, his father. "Many kids on the block were either two or three years older or two or three years younger than Chris, so he had plenty of friends from the neighborhood."

"Although most people tend to lose touch with old friends as they grow up and make new ones, Chris wasn't like that," he said. "He brought home a number of Dartmouth friends to meet his childhood friends."

When Chris was about eight years old, he had to have a silver cap installed over one of his teeth, Tony Colasanti remembered.

"My wife, Cathy, and I were so worried that all the kids would tease him about this. But the opposite happened. Instead, we got a call from another mom who wanted to know where she could get one for her son."

Chris was equally resourceful when it came to compensating for a lack of innate musical talent.

In fifth grade, he was selected to play Nathan Detroit in the musical "Guys & Dolls." Since he couldn't sing the role, he "talked through his songs," Tony Colasanti said.

Throughout his childhood, Chris enjoyed soccer, Tony Colasanti said. Ultimately, he was recruited by the Dartmouth coach and accepted by early decision.

Chris "absolutely loved Dartmouth", according to his father.

He suffered several recurring injuries, however, and played intramural rather than varsity soccer after his freshman year.

During his junior year of high school, Chris met Kelly Nugent, the girl whom he would eventually marry.

Kelly Colasanti had no trouble remembering her first meeting with "Dom" in high school.

"I was driving around with a good friend of mine and her boyfriend," she recalled. "He called out to this boy and asked him if he wanted a ride with us."

Although Chris and Kelly were the same year, she did not know him well.

"He was cute and friendly, and even though I had relatively little to say to him, I remember that he kept trying to include me in the conversation," she remembered.

"I stalked him," she said with a laugh. "No, I didn't really, but I did call one of my best friends and made sure that he was invited to her party. We talked there, had a good time, and the next day he called and asked me out to dinner. The boys I went to high school with generally didn't do that."

Through Chris and Kelly attended different colleges, they dated off and on during their college years. They reunited the July after their senior year, became engaged when Chris was 25 and married a year later.

While at Dartmouth, Colasanti was an active member of Alpha Delta fraternity.

John Lynch '90, also an AD brother, remembered how kind-hearted Chris could be, even to lowly pledges.

As part of an inititation rite, Chris had to drive several blindfolded pledges around in circles, finally leaving them near the intramural field. The idea was to frighten them into believing that they were much farther away from the center of campus than they were.

Chris felt qualms almost immediately after dropping off the pledges. "He started running around to their dorm rooms, knocking on the door and wanting to know if they were back yet. Finally, about 20 minutes later, he ran into AD and found them watching TV. They had found their way back home in 10 minutes," Lynch said.

Lynch recalled another episode from Chris' college years. "His car was a clunker," he said, "and the nut keeping the wheel on the car started coming loose while he was on 91 driving through northern Massachusetts."

"Finally, he pulled off the highway and he got kind of lost looking for a mechanic. He was making a U-turn pulling out of someone's driveway when the wheel finally fell off."

Colasanti was unfazed by his predicament, though. By accident, he met with a rural mechanic who graciously fixed the car, and Colasanti even kept in touch with the mechanic and his girlfriend afterward, Lynch said.

Friends like Peter Dammann '90 and Bart Osman '90 vividly remembered his thick New Jersey accent. The room he inhabited at AD was dubbed "the Jersey room" in his honor, a name this room still bears today.

After receiving a degree in government from Dartmouth, Colasanti moved to New York City and took a job working for Cantor Fitzgerald at the World Trade Center. He roomed with Lynch for several years prior to his marriage.

He kept in contact with his friends from Dartmouth after graduation. In fact, Osman noted that he and Colasanti did not drift apart after graduation, but rather became closer.

"We followed the exact same path," he said. "We both went to work on Wall Street, we both married girlfriends we had known in high school at about the same time, and we both had kids -- both daughters -- at the same time."

Colasanti organized a number of informal dinners for fellow Dartmouth '90s living in New York.

"He was the centerpiece of all of them," said John Sollinger '90. "He would banter back and forth with everyone via e-mail about his perfect attendance record at the dinners."

Believing that Colasanti would want his friends to continue the tradition, the first dinner without him was held last week.

"We hoisted a few beers, ate some steaks and told stories about Dom and college that allowed us to laugh through what has been an incredibly tough time," Dammann told The Dartmouth.

Many friends who stayed in touch with Colasanti noted what a devoted father he was to his daughters, Cara, five, and Lauren, two.

"He would work 10 hours a day and still play with Cara when he came home at night so that I could have time to relax and cook dinner," Kelly Colasanti said.

"The greatest thing about him," she said, "is that he hadn't changed since he was 17. He's always been the same self-assured, confident individual."

A Memorial Fund has been established in Colasanti's name for his wife and young daughters.