Freddy Crisostomi, 38; a talent for finding fun
Alfred Crisostomi -- "Cousin Freddy" to his friends -- was the man to see if you wanted to talk sports or music, or better yet, go to the game or the concert and have a time to remember.
He was a young 38, with enough positive energy and enthusiasm to not only keep up with but lead a group of friends and cousins more than a decade younger.
He kept in touch with them all via cell phone, announcing his plans on the fly. He was on his way to a good time in his Ford Explorer -- who could get away and meet him there?
"He electrified and lit up the room," his cousin Brian Valcourt said. "He'd always hug you and say, 'Great to see you!' He showed everybody the utmost respect."
"We didn't think of him as a 38-year-old cousin," Brian said. "He was like a brother and a best friend."
But kind feelings never stopped him from destroying his challengers at any game going: tennis, darts, cards, pool.
On Sunday, the day of rest, Freddy would go only so far as to stop moving. At his home on Haswill Street, in Warwick, he commanded his satellite-powered big-screen TV, remote in one hand, cell phone in the other, calling every local-team fan he knew to glory in the victories of his all-New York heroes -- Yankees, Jets, Islanders.
Whenever New York lost, naturally, he'd duck the return torment by not answering the phone.
"It was highly competitive," his friend K.C. Jarest said. "His teams always had to be Number 1."
His friends remember how much Freddy loved his children, Nicole, 15, and Brandon, 10, and his girlfriend, Gina Russo of Cranston, who was with him at The Station and remains critically injured.
His friend, Alivia Sarno, said the couple met on the Internet and had mutual interests in sports and music.
"You couldn't see him with anyone else," she said.
Rene Valcourt, a cousin, often teased Freddy about his slowness in proposing marriage to Gina. "He'd say, 'I'm too young! -- but pretty soon. She's the one.' "
Freddy's friend Bill Marcello said, "The last year of Freddy's life was probably the best, the most successful, the happiest I'd ever seen him."
Rene went to a tattoo artist the Monday after the fire and had his left shoulder inked with a four-line tribute: "Cousin Freddy / R.I.P. / 02-20-03 / Keep Rockin' "
-- Providence Journal staff
Published in The Providence Journal on Mar. 20, 2003