( 1985 – 2014 )

The loss of Coll at such a young age to a tragic accident is devastating to family and friends. He led a full and rich life in his 29 years, yet had a whole life full of exciting experiences ahead. He lived in 7 countries while growing up and had traveled to over 30 more. He loved learning about and experiencing new cultures.  At Cal State Monterey Bay (CSUMB) he became interested in marine biology and joined the Science Learning and Exploration With the Help of Sea Lions (SLEWTHS) program run by Dr. Jennifer Zeligs. Under her tutelage, Coll became a professional marine mammal trainer. Dr. Hurley once remarked that Coll had a unique, innate sensitivity to, and understanding of, the wants and needs of animals; with her guidance, Coll excelled as a professional marine mammal trainer.

Upon graduation from CSUMB in 2008, Coll’s goal was to secure a position with the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program (NMMP) in San Diego, which he achieved. Due to his exceptional skills, dedication, and hard work, he quickly rose through the ranks to become a dive supervisor for both open circuit SCUBA as well as closed circuit rebreather, and then excelled as a project team lead. Both at SLEWTHS and the NMMP, he dedicated time and energy in being a mentor for interns, and he was loved and respected by all who worked with him. Always interested in learning new skills, Coll became a PADI-certified dive instructor and was beginning work on getting a ship captain’s certification. 

Coll was something of a renaissance man. He loved the physical side of life, whether it was playing basketball, flag football, Over The Line, running with the dog, diving, swimming, free diving, snowboarding, or any other physical activity. At the same time, he appreciated poetry, was an avid reader, and was constantly interested in learning new things. Through work he picked up many skills, such as seamanship, carpentry, crane operation, and radar and sonar operation. He was teaching himself how to play piano and was busy converting all the family home movies to digital format. He was a master on the BBQ. He served as a Big Brother to a local youth. He was an excellent underwater photographer and even had a showing of his work at a local gallery. He put 110% effort into anything to which he put his mind, and was always successful.

Coll was full of life and happiness and shared this with everyone he met. All who were fortunate enough to know him loved him for his joie de vivre, kindness, openness, generosity, sense of humor, caring, intelligence, sensitivity, and capacity for love. He had the uncanny ability to form an instant connection and bond with anyone he met, from young children to older adults. He was a beautiful man, inside and out, and will be forever missed.

Coll’s Credo: “Desiderata” by Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.