A Special Weekend
The last weekend of his life was a special one for Dominick Enrico Calia — and typical, too.
After returning home to Manalapan, N.J., on Friday night from his job as a municipal bond broker at Cantor Fitzgerald, Mr. Calia, 40, quickly changed into gym clothes, then coached baseball practice for his son's team. The next morning, he and his wife, Janet, ushered their two daughters to separate soccer practices. Then, for the first time in 10 years, he and his wife spent 24 hours away from the kids. They went to Cape May and Atlantic City. The next morning, they made it back for — of course — another soccer practice.
Perhaps you get the picture: Mr. Calia was very active in his children's lives, from never-ending athletics to frequent trips to New York City. And now, their son, Dominick Richard Calia, wants to change his middle name so he can be Dominick Jr. "My son is 7 years old," Mrs. Calia said. "I tell him, `The seven years you had with dad is a lifetime, and some people don't even get that. It's the quality, not the quantity, that counts.' "
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on October 15, 2001.
Dominick Calia, devoted dad and coach
On the weekend before the World Trade Center attack, Dominick Calia and his wife, Janet, managed to get a weekend away without the kids for the first time in long memory.
After coaching a Friday night Little League practice in Manalapan, Mr. Calia, 40, handed over the reins for the Saturday baseball game to another father. They dropped off their children with a grandparent and set out for Cape May. There they walked the cobblestone streets, drank coffee and browsed shops before continuing on to Atlantic City.
They returned the following morning, catching back-to-back soccer games with their two daughters -- but not before buying a wrestling belt for their son.
"He managed to give each child an individual amount of time," Janet Calia said of her husband. "He felt sports gives children confidence, camaraderie and teaches them to play as a team."
A graduate of Brooklyn Technical School, Mr. Calia was thrown into the work world at age 18, around the time his father died. Instead of going to college, he learned the financial services business in the marketplace, his wife said.
For several years, Mr. Calia worked for the investment firm Drexel Burnham Lambert, according to his brother John. But when the company folded, he went into the insurance business before finding himself bored there.
"He missed the excitement of the financial industry," John Calia said. "He wanted to work as a bond broker."
So Mr. Calia got a job at Cantor Fitzgerald, and worked there for eight years. "He hardly ever missed a day of work, he hardly ever called in sick. He just loved doing what he did," his wife said.
She recalled how they met on during the July 4 weekend in 1982 at the Jersey Shore. Each was staying with friends in the same hotel in Wildwood. Outside the hotel, the two strangers struck up a conversation.
"He was very smart, very warm," Janet Calia said. A week later, they met for lunch at one of his favorite Chinese restaurants in the Wall Street area. He bought her chicken kew.
In the pre-dawn of Sept. 11, she felt under the weather, she recalled, and her husband asked her how she was doing. She listened as he walked into the room of their older daughter and encouraged her for an upcoming soccer team tryout.
He left the house, as usual, at 6 a.m. It was the last time Janet Calia heard his voice.
As usual, Mr. Calia drove to Jersey City with his friend Michael Boulos, also of Manalapan. There they got on the PATH to Manhattan.
He would always stop at Dunkin' Donuts for coffee before reaching his office.
This past Monday, Janet Calia retraced her husband's final steps. She stopped at the same doughnut shop, drank the coffee and headed to Ground Zero. In the coffee cup she placed a teddy bear, flowers and a strip of paper with a penned- in broken heart and the word "Why?" as a makeshift memorial.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Calia is survived by daughters Jeanna, 12, and Jaclyn, 9, and son Dominick, 7; his mother, Mildred of Brick; three brothers, John of Holmdel, Ricky of Bellmore, N.Y., and Joseph of Manchester; two sisters, Christine Costa of West Windsor and Jean Ann Kuhn of Brick, and several nieces and nephews.
A memorial Mass will be Saturday at 9 a.m. at St. Thomas More Roman Catholic Church in Manalapan.
Donations can be made to the Dominick E. Calia Memorial Fund, c/o Janet Calia, 73 Sandpiper Drive, Manalapan, N.J. 07726.
Profile by George Berkin published in THE STAR-LEDGER.