This article originally appeared on March 16, 2016 on the waltham.wickedlocal.com webiste.
Link to original article: https://waltham.wickedlocal.com/article/20160316/NEWS/160316661
By Bill Whelan
Posted Mar. 16, 2016 at 12:59 PM
Douglas Usseglio was remembered by thousands of friends and family members at his funeral on Friday, March 11, less than a week after he died from head trauma following a fall near Franklin Pierce University campus in New Hampshire on Sunday, March 6.
The events surrounding the death of Usseglio, a star hockey player at Waltham High School and a senior at Franklin Pierce, are still unclear. What is clear, is that Usseglio touched the lives of many, and will be remembered as a loving son and brother and a loyal friend.
“He was just a lovable kid who always wanted to be around his friends,” said Michelle Usseglio, Douglas’s mother.
“He had many friends from many areas of his life. The thing that stood out to me the most was the sheer amount of young people at the wake and the funeral,” said John Maguire, Usseglio’s hockey coach at Waltham High School. “It was a testimony to his popularity and the number of people that he touched.”
Usseglio’s parents said that more than 2,200 people signed the guestbook at Usseglio’s funeral.
Maguire said that Usseglio was an all-star player and an assistant captain his senior year at Waltham. Usseglio played youth hockey in Waltham and also played a year at the Winchendon School, a private college preparatory school, before heading to Franklin Pierce University, where he played hockey his freshman year.
“He was unbelievably passionate about the sport,” Maguire said. On the ice, Usseglio was, “extremely fast, hard working, always buzzing around at every practice and every game. He’s the first guy on the ice at practice and last guy off.”
“He loved his sister more than he loved hockey,” said Gary Usseglio, Doug’s father. “He always made sure she was doing good, always calling to check up on her.”
“They were beyond close,” Michelle said. “She was 8 days old at his first hockey game. I don’t think she missed a handful of games in his life.”
Michelle remembered an episode when her daughter, Julia, was 2 years old, and was choking on something when Michelle and Usseglio were at home. Usseglio, 12 at the time, “was calmer than me,” Michelle said, as he called 911 for help.
Michelle said Julia is handling her brother’s death with unbelievable strength, but makes sure that nothing in his bedroom is touched or moved. Michelle said her son recently borrowed one of Julia’s blankets and Julia intends on leaving it in his room.
Usseglio would have turned 23 on Monday, March 7. Police said Usseglio’s body was pulled from a stream near the intersection of Bradford and Goodall streets in Rindge, New Hampshire, near the campus of Franklin Pierce, on the morning of Sunday, March 6.
Police said Usseglio was last seen Saturday night at a social gathering in a nearby home. The death appears to be accidental and there is no sign of foul play, according to Rindge police. Usseglio had a visible head injury that appeared to be consistent with a fall, police said.
Usseglio’s parents recounted the day they heard the news.
“We were both in touch with him the day before and then he just disconnected, which was odd,” Michelle said. “I got a phone call from a Waltham police officer who had babysat him when he was younger. I had just finished lunch. I think I scared the whole restaurant.”
Michelle, the officer, and Gary, all met at their home and got on the phone with Rindge Police.
“There was numbness for a few days, there still is,” Michelle said.
“When it happened, I was in shock, I don’t know what really happened. I didn’t sleep for the first five nights,” Gary said.
Michelle and Gary spoke about Usseglio’s arrest this past September for selling cocaine in Waltham. They said it filled him with regret and put him in a state of depression for months, but that he had taken ownership of his mistake and in the past month or two, had started to get his life back on track.
Gary said Usseglio was healthy, happy, and had gotten back on the ice, playing with him in a men’s hockey league. Usseglio had also been teaching his two 5-year-old cousins in Wakefield how to skate.
“His arrest only defined a moment in his life,” Michelle said.
She said Usseglio had worked hard to keep his grades up while he was still taking classes at Franklin Pierce in the fall and was doing well at home, which made his death even more unexpected.
The Usseglios still don’t know exactly what happened on the night of March 6 when Usseglio walked along the river alone.
“He was always with somebody. He was never alone. That was the weird thing to us,” Gary said. “Hopefully someday someone will step forward and really tell us the truth.”
In the days since Usseglio’s death, his parents said the outpouring of love and support from friends, family members, and even strangers, has kept them going.
Michelle said a random boy recently walked up to her at a hockey arena and told her how he followed Usseglio’s playing career and how much he meant to him.
“The amount of people that came through [the funeral] was shocking,” Gary said. “The amount of people who had their lives touched by him, people I never even met before, who said he was their best friend.”
The Usseglios have set up The Douglas Usseglio Memorial Fund through Rockland Trust, to give back to all the hockey programs that Usseglio was a part of throughout his life and there is also a GoFundMe page where people can donate to support the fund as well as the Usseglio’s funeral costs.