Alumni Council Spotlight: A Family Affair

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The D’Onofrio Family

Lauren D’Onofrio, Class of 1982

To say Colgate (and Hamilton) hold a special place in my heart would be an understatement. From as far back as I can remember, Colgate has been a part of me and my entire family. My late father, Ab Potter ‘52, loved Colgate, as did his brother, Kenny Potter ‘54, so much so that soon after my uncle’s graduation day, they renamed their then Potter brothers’ business “Salmagundi”, after the title of Colgate’s yearbook.

One week after my father graduated from Colgate, he and my mother were married. They settled in Hamilton, while my father worked on his master’s program at Colgate. Nine months later, my oldest brother was born in Hamilton. Years later, they moved to Long Island, where my other brother was born; four more years, and I made the scene. By the time we could crawl and regardless of where we lived, my brothers and I were often adorned with “Colgate” sweatshirts and other maroon and white apparel. Fast forward several years, my father’s business career returned our family to Upstate New York, where my parents, of course, chose no other home base but Hamilton to raise their three children: now sixteen, thirteen, and nine.

Growing up in Hamilton was actually idyllic. Because it was such a small community, I was able to play five different sports in high school and cheerlead “under the lights” at our Friday night football games. Life was so good that I didn’t mind cheering in October snow storms while wearing only a thin emerald green sweater, plaid skirt, knee socks and saddle shoes.

When it came time to apply to college, my dream was to attend one with a campus as beautiful as Colgate’s (but in a different place, so that I could enjoy the away-from-home experience of college life). Well…it didn’t exist. So…in August of 1978, as did the rest of the freshman class, I packed my belongings into our family car and drove to college; unlike my classmates, my drive took only four minutes.

A few days into the first semester, I auditioned for what was then the only a cappella singing group for women: the Swinging ‘Gates. Surprisingly, and thankfully, I was invited to join. At my first rehearsal, I met a sophomore whom soon become my new best friend. My sophomore year (her junior year) we were both fortunate to be assigned to singles at Bolton House on fraternity row. I have fond memories of us sipping hot chocolate by the fireplace in the basement while studying for exams; it felt like home. It was home.

Shortly before beginning my sophomore year, I happened to bump into a guy at Hickey’s Tavern who had lived in the room next to mine during my first spring semester. Good thing, as that guy, Dean D’Onofrio ‘80, became my husband. We have been married for 31 years and have two daughters. Our older daughter, Kayce, recently graduated from Colgate in 2016. Not surprisingly, it snowed at commencement.

So…my father, my uncle, my husband, one of my best friends, and now my daughter, and I all share something special in common: a deep love for Colgate and for Hamilton, New York. I can’t wait to see what they hold in store for us next!