Dino Ghilotti Remembered as Charismatic, Warm and Giving Dino Richard Ghilotti was an original from the day he was born - January 6, 1991 - Three Kings Day in Greenbrae, California at Marin General Hospital. As the "CAPTAIN" amongst his friends, he sailed into the afterlife on May 12, 2013 in Miami, Florida, his college home for the last four years. He is survived by his parents Nancy and Richard Ghilotti, siblings Willie and Michelle, brother and sister-in-law Josh Mandel and Rochelle Ghilotti, nephews Nolan Mandel, Jayden Ghilotti, niece Vivian Ghilotti, his aunts Linda Ghilotti and Diane Ongaro, cousins Brian and Amy Ongaro and their children Claire and Andrew, cousin Shannon Ongaro, and longtime friend and nanny, Ana Taracena. Dino is also survived by an extensive family in Guatemala ~ aunts and uncles Kena and Wolfgang Godecke, Rosemarie and Fernando Porras, Barry and Stella Johnston, and Rafael Motta. He is also survived by a large group of cousins and second cousins. Dino is predeceased by loving relatives: his grandfathers Dino Ghilotti, Rafael Motta and Joseph May; grandmothers "Oma" Stella May and "Nonni" Yolanda Ghilotti (he was the twinkle in their eyes); and uncle Rich Ongaro. Dino grew up in San Rafael and was named after his late grandfather, Dino Joseph Ghilotti. He attended grammar school at San Domenico and graduated from Marin Catholic High School. He attended University of Miami where he graduated with a degree in Business. From the time he was young, Dino loved to play basketball, just like his father and grandfather. Some of the best game memories were from St. Raphael's where his father, two aunts and cousins had attended grammar school. His speed and athletic ability would later lead him to starting positions on the Marin Catholic Wildcat basketball and football teams. His love for football would eventually surpass his first sport. In his senior year he was named All League Defensive First Team at defensive back, All League Offensive Second Team at wide receiver, and All Purpose player. But beyond the physical, it was the person he was that is remembered most. "He was one of those guys who lights up the room when he walks in. He was a charismatic, confident, outgoing young man and one of the leaders of our team. There was never a day off for him," said a former basketball coach. A similar sentiment is echoed as loudly by friends and family, professors, art and design teachers and fraternity brothers. Former football coach Ken Peralta said, "He was a really special guy. That youthful exuberance you like to see in kids - he had a way of letting that light shine through his eyes." From the time he was a baby, Dino also had that sparkle and was running circles around his two teenage siblings. "The relationship created between the three of us was as special and unique as it was fun. He was a love and we were so protective of him. In many ways, he was as much our son as he was our little brother," says his sister, Michelle Ghilotti Mandel. We loved making him laugh, dancing with him, taking trips and talking to him on the phone after he went off to University of Miami. He was the glue that brought us all together." His mom Nancy said, "It was one of the happiest days of my life when at 10:25pm, a beautiful brown-eyed baby boy was born into our family. His birth truly solidified our blended family into one." Dino grew up traveling. Family trips to Europe, Latin America, all throughout the United States were commonplace throughout his young, high school and college life. Two of his favorite places to vacation with family and friends were Lake Tahoe and Cabo San Lucas. "My little guy loved hotel rooms and room service, especially dry Rice Krispies with strawberries," says his mom, Nancy Ghilotti. Going to college was no different. Dino was an adventurous spirit. "Heading off to University of Miami for college in 2009 was a trip he was ready for and excited about," shares his father, Dick Ghilotti. And in a note to his sister just one month before his passing, Dino said "I've learned a lot about myself in the last four years and am glad I stepped out of my comfort zone to go to Miami. It has been an experience that put the finishing touches on the man I am and will become." Beyond being an incredible friend and student, at University of Miami he continued to tap into his creative passions. He graduated with a major in Business Administration and a minor in Graphic Design and for the last few months of his Senior year, he spent four hours every school night working on his ceramic and glass blown art in the U of M art studio. He was extremely talented. "He absolutely loved it," said his girlfriend Allie Meyer. Dino started to work at the family business, Ghilotti Construction Company, by riding along with his dad when he was six years old. He was fascinated by the machinery and, as high school approached, he worked summers as a laborer. This initiation was exactly as his father had experienced. Though the family is devastated at the loss of a young man that danced, joked and loved with all his heart, they find comfort knowing he touched so many lives. "It's been so evident and profound to see how many people knew Dino and loved him and appreciated his smile and the time he took to listen to their problems and make their day better. The hundreds of tributes, words and memories we've heard from so many young people he affected during his time at the University of Miami has been incredibly moving," says his father. "Just as Julius Caesar came, saw and conquered," said his brother, Willie, "so, too, did Dino, even when his life was cut short. The quote "Veni, Vidi, Vici" reminds me of my younger brother because he lived to the fullest all the time. God now has another mission for him, I truly believe that." His family recognizes the unique time they spent in Miami leading up to his graduation and passing. "Four days of celebrations, complete with loving speeches from good friends and family that came from California, Guatemala and Cabo San Lucas was a beautiful way to celebrate and recognize him before he left us," recounts Nancy, his mom. "During his life, we made sure to tell him how important he was to us, and the week leading up to his graduation was no exception. Dino brought me back full circle to the city where I spent much of my childhood, and for that I am eternally grateful. I truly believe his life here on earth was complete at only 22 years old and that bigger and better plans await him in heaven," she says. The family plans to make Dino's favorite places a constant in their lives. Meals at Marin Joes, trips back to Miami, Lake Tahoe, Cabo San Lucas, Europe as well as participating in the teams he loved such as the 49ers, Giants and Warriors will all be a big part of the Ghilotti family. All of this, they say, will be done while keeping Dino close and remembering the handsome, charismatic, warm and giving son, brother and uncle he was. Dino's service will be held at St. Raphael's Church in San Rafael Friday, May 24, 2013 at 1:00PM, and afterwards we'll remember his life with swagger, Dino-style at Marin Catholic at 2:30PM, Greenbrae, California. There will also be a rosary Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 7:00PM at St. Raphael's Church in San Rafael. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the University of Miami - Dino Richard Ghilotti Motta "Canes Care for Canes" Scholarship Fund. Please mail contributions to University of Miami: P.O. Box 025388, Miami Fl 33102-98111. All donations are tax deductible. Monte's Chapel of the Hills, San Anselmo 415-453-8440
Published in Marin Independent Journal from May 18 to May 23, 2013.