Don Manzelli '53: A Champion of Champions
"I am never afraid to give what I have because, in the end, more comes back to me."
This was one of Donald Manzelli's favorite sayings and he dedicated his life to living it.
From the moment he stepped onto the Colorado College campus, Don — a member of the Class of 1953 — developed a deep appreciation for and commitment to the college that never ended.
Don started his own business soon after graduating from CC with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering. During his career in construction focusing on design/build, he created countless structures all over Massachusetts, winning many awards and accolades. In his personal life, he was involved in music and musical theater, drama, photography, and flying among many other interests.
Don's dedication to CC remained constant. He served as Class Agent, and played a leadership role in creating the Class of 1953 Scholarship Fund, which assists one student to attend CC every year. He also participated in and later led the Boston/New England alumni group for decades and hosted scores of events at his home — entertaining CC leadership, alumni, entering freshman, prospective students and their parents. In fact, preparing countless mailings was a regular family affair with everyone pitching in to stuff and lick envelope after envelope of CC mailings.
Janet Manzelli (Tufts 1950) recalls one of many memories from their 50+ years of volunteering. The hockey team was visiting Boston, and after a victorious game, Don treated the entire team to dinner where "they ate just about everything on the menu!"
Don's passion for Colorado College extended to the next generation. Having grown-up with CC as a constant presence in their lives, it was inevitable that two of his children would come to CC! Marta graduated in 1979 (BA English) and Jeff followed in 1989 (BA Art).
Don was a genuine philanthropist — in the truest sense of the word. For Colorado College, that meant becoming a charter member of the President's Council in 1968, later serving as its Chairman. When the 1874 Society came along, Don was there, and then later he joined the new President's Circle. In over 50 years, Don not only made annual gifts, but also provided for the college in his estate plans — ensuring his commitment to CC will continue for years to come. This was foremost in his thoughts throughout his later years—to help CC help others long beyond his lifetime.
Barbara Yalich, also a member of the Class of 1953 and former Vice President of CC's Alumni and Development Offices, recalls how Don was always willing to help. "He was never shy about asking classmates and others to step up to the plate," Barbara notes. "I will always remember him as one of the ‘best of the best' volunteers I ever worked with."
Don expended endless energy and enthusiasm not just for CC, but gave his all to countless charities from the YMCA to his favorite cause, The Council for Social Concern, a local food pantry and daycare center for children taken from abusive homes.
Indeed, Don was "never afraid to give" and truly was always helping others at every opportunity! For that, Colorado College will always be grateful and proud to call Don one of our own.
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