Always the Peacemaker
It was perhaps inevitable that when pressures rose at work, colleagues would turn to Robert J. Coll to calm things down. Mr. Coll was born eighth out of nine children, a peacemaker amid the chaos of a big family.
"Maybe being in that position in the family made him compassionate and good with people," said Mr. Coll's older brother, Edward. "He made people feel very at ease with him."
Mr. Coll, 35, and his wife, Jennifer, led an active social life and didn't slow down even when their two children were born. They simply took the children with them, to restaurants, skiing in Stratton, Vt., and on summer trips to the beach.
Known as Woody to friends and clients because of a stubborn cowlick, Mr. Coll was a senior vice president for capital markets at Euro Brokers.
"Even though he had been successful for a while, there was really a sense that my brother was just really starting to spread his wings," Edward Coll said. "There was a transformation from being a baby brother to being one we relied on. He was starting to be a pillar in the family."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 14, 2001.
Robert Coll Jr., 35, a whirlwind life
His friends called him The Machine, because Robert J. "Bobby" Coll Jr. never stopped going.
"He was a broker, so he had to entertain people," said Todd Scarborough, a longtime friend. "He could stay out until 2 with clients, then be at his desk at 6:30. Then the weekend would come and we'd go snowboarding and he wouldn't sleep at all."
Friends also called him a fearless surfer, accomplished skier, enthusiastic outdoorsman, avid sailor, loving husband and doting father. They described Mr. Coll as a man who did a lot of living during 35 years that took him from his childhood in New Rochelle, N.Y., to Fordham Prep, to St. Lawrence University, to New York University Business School to Wall Street.
When he and his wife, Jennifer, had Megan, 2, and Bobby Jr., 10 months, they didn't slow down. The kids came along on weekend trips from home in Glen Ridge to the beach in Ocean City or West Hampton, N.Y.
The last anyone saw Mr. Coll on Sept. 11, he was on the 80th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center, helping a woman in respiratory distress who wanted to climb higher to avoid the smoke.
"He's a hero who made an unfortunate decision," said Brian Clark, a colleague.
"That's just Bobby," said Ed Coll, one of Mr. Coll's eight siblings. "He got a lot of maternal love growing up. Because of that, he had a tremendous amount of compassion for others."
At Euro Brokers, where he was a senior vice president, his colleagues called him "Woody," both because of a Woody Woodpecker- like cowlick and because of his sense of humor.
Mr. Coll once bought his boat crew members Team USA speedos -- one size too small -- and outfitted them in swim caps, goggles, children's inflatable arm bands, and nose clips to win a prize as the funniest dressed crew.
Friend Tom McElwee also remembered the Maloney's Bikeathon, where he and Mr. Coll donned Viking helmets and rode a tandem bike during the annual 70-mile charity race.
"We gave each other a lot of grief, but always in a good way," said Mike Neumann, a former colleague. "He was an incredible amount of fun."
A Mass of Requiem of Life will be help at Immaculate Conception Church, 30 North Fullerton Ave., Montclair, on Friday, Oct. 5, at 10:30 a.m. Contributions in his memory may be made to The Megan and Robert Coll III Scholar Choice Account and sent to Salomon Smith Barney, 25 Recreation Park Dr., Hingham, Mass. 02043.
Profile by Brad Parks published in THE STAR-LEDGER.