Current Issue

May16, 2012

Vol. 112, No. 12

memorial

Daniel J. Calacci ’75

Published in the May16, 2012, issue

When Dan slipped away May 11, 2011, surrounded by his family, the class lost one of its most colorful, gregarious, and beloved members. Dan was profoundly unlike anyone else. He brought a unique perspective that enlightened, confounded, and tickled everyone he encountered.

Dan commenced his gloriously improbable life in Missouri. At St. Louis University High School, he excelled in both academics and sports, quarterbacking the Jr. Billikens football team to a spectacular 11–1 season and state championship.

He majored in East Asian studies at Princeton and was fluent in Mandarin. He spent a year abroad teaching English in Taiwan. After college, Dan drifted with attitude across the globe. He lived in Japan, was a photographer in Seattle, a railroad worker in Kansas City, and a bank clerk in Manhattan. He then implausibly initiated a financial career, structuring international transactions, abstruse derivatives that still defy explanation, and starting a hedge fund.

We miss Dan with all our hearts and will remember him with fondness, love, and bewilderment. He was a true and kind friend, generous, quick to laugh, brilliant, and childlike in his fascination for the world.

To his wife, Debra; children Daniel and Helen; sister Jane; and brothers Tom and David, the class extends deepest sympathy.

The Class of 1975


Note: The following is an expanded version of a memorial published in the May 16, 2012, issue of PAW.
You’re gonna have to leave me now, I know
But I’ll see you in the sky above
In the tall grass, in the ones I love
You’re gonna’ make me lonesome when you go.
—Bob Dylan, “Blood on the Tracks”

When Dan sadly slipped away from us May 11, 2011, surrounded by his family in New Jersey, the class lost one of its most colorful, gregarious, and beloved members.

Dan modestly commenced what he ultimately fashioned into a fascinating, multifaceted, and gloriously improbable life in St. Louis, Mo. He attended St. Louis University High School, where his father, Dominic, taught world history for 35 years (1957-1992). Dan excelled in academics, including the study of Mandarin Chinese.

Although a voracious and adept learner, he was by no means bookish. In fact, as quarterback of his high school football team, the Jr. Billikens, he led the team to an 11–1 season and a Missouri State championship in 1970, defeating Kansas City Center High by a score of 28–19. This was not by any means the limit of his remarkable lifelong athletic prowess: He also was superb at basketball, track, soccer, tennis, and golf, and was later regarded in some circles to be an evil genius at table tennis.

Dan was an East Asian studies major in Princeton and spent a year abroad, teaching English in Taiwan. He studied hard, played some intramural sports, dazzled all with his unforgettable characterization of “Teenie Joleenie” at parties, and somehow (unaccountably) managed to avoid being awarded “The George Ira Lovely Memorial Traveling Trophy for Cretin of the Year” by his roommates. However, the truth is that nothing in this writing can even begin to capture his energy, his multidimensional persona, and his unforgettable impact on his roommates and many diverse friends. Dan was profoundly unlike anyone else. He was a philosopher, a trickster, a canny observer, a wily and deliberate buffoon — eccentric, insightful, and disarming.

After college, Dan drifted with attitude across the face of the planet. He worked in a variety of occupations, including as a freelance photographer in Seattle, a railroad worker in Kansas City, and a clerk in a New York City bank. This last job is where his curvilinear pathway begins to cause real dizziness. In an imponderable sequence, through sheer force of will and intelligence, Dan somehow managed to parlay his low-level administrative position into a staggeringly complex and high-flying career of foreign-currency trading, structuring and implementation of abstruse financial derivatives that still (perhaps for the best) defy description, large international project financing, and ultimately the ownership and management of a Wall Street hedge fund.

We know in retrospect that, in each of these roles, from railroad laborer to financial tycoon, Dan brought his own unique perspective that managed to enlighten, and forever confound and tickle, everyone he encountered. On top of everything else, Dan was a happy guy, and a charming, handsome devil with a mile-wide smile and a great laugh he did not hesitate to share.

The Princeton Class of 1975, and many, many unabashed aficionados across the globe, will miss Dan and will always remember him with fondness and love. To his wife, Debra; children Daniel and Helen; sister Jane; and brothers Tom and David, the class extends its profound sympathy.

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