Saturday, March 06, 2010

Remembering Connie

Connie Maniatty and Dianne Murphy (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics)

The memorial service for Connie Maniatty '43CC, was moving, fun, and most of all, educational.

First off, let me list some of the notable people I saw there:

From the football alumni there was Bill Campbell, (of course), Marty Domres, Marcellus Wiley, Don Jackson, Joe Cabrera, Ted Gregory, Tom O'Connor, Chris Della Pietra, and many, many more.

Just about the entire current football team was there along with most of the assistant coaches. The players acted as ushers and sang a few choruses of Roar Lion, Roar! as everyone filed out of St. Paul's Chapel.

Also there were former Columbia President Michael Sovern, former Athletic Director John Reeves, and recent graduate and basketball legend John Baumann.

All of us there learned a lot more about Connie from the great array of speakers. I learned he wasn't only a benefactor for the football team. It turns out all Columbia sport teams owe a debt of gratitude to Connie and he was particularly a major driver behind making sure Columbia's womens teams got the support they needed.

A framed Columbia football jersey with the name "Maniatty" and the number 43 stood at the front of the chapel as the speakers told us about Connie. Here are some highlights:

Bill Campbell

"When I left coaching at Columbia, I felt like I let Connie down. But he never stopped contacting me, never stopped supporting me."

Dr. Dianne Murphy

"Every May, Connie would call me on the phone and say, 'So Dianne, how are you going to spend my money this year?'"

Ted Gregory

"The first time I met Connie he came over to me once and said, 'if you had hit that Cornell quarterback any harder, they would have been picking him off the field with a stretcher!' He was always that direct."

Susan Remmer Rysewic

"I always found it funny that the only place you could get a beer at a Columbia game was in the lounge named for Connie and my dad. Because Connie never took a drink in his life!"

The music, provided by soloist Emily Drake and pianist Michael Skelly, was very beautiful and always pitch perfect in the music-friendly chapel.

And, most importantly, I thought the mood during the service and the reception afterward was properly festive as we all indeed celebrated the life of a man who gave us all something for which we should be grateful.


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