Tyler Ugolyn, 23, star athlete, student

Tall, good looking with a laugh that made others laugh with him, 23-year-old Tyler Victor Ugolyn was a young man who led by example and who turned his talent for sports into a vehicle to help others. The 1997 graduate of Ridgefield High School and committed basketball star who earned his way to Columbia College both as an athlete and as a scholar, is presumed dead, a victim of last week’s World Trade Center attack.
Tyler or “Ty” as he was affectionately known, was the son of Victor and Diane Ugolyn of Cardinal Court. He was born on Aug. 7, 1978, in Springfield, Mass. He moved from Granby to Ridgefield with his family in 1983 and he attended Veterans Park School, Our Lady of Fatima School in Wilton and later Ridgefield High.
His skill on the basketball court led him to be rated as one of the top 275 high school seniors in the country by Prep Stars Recruiter’s Handbook during his senior year at Ridgefield High School. He was named to First Team All Area and FCIAC Division. In addition, he was nominated to the 1997 McDonald’s High School All-American Team and received Honorable Mention recognition from the Addidas Blue Ribbon Handbook.
He also played on the Stamford Express AAU team and was coached by David Cooks, who subsequently became his friend and mentor.
While Tyler was co-captain of his varsity basketball team and played boy’s varsity tennis as well as JV baseball, he also took his studies very seriously. He was an honors student and a member of the National Honor Society. While at Ridgefield High School, Tyler was also active in Safe Rides, Young Life, Key Club, Future Business Leaders and Big Brother-Big Sister. He was a student-athlete representative for Parent to Parent, selected by the high school to discuss with parents of incoming freshmen how to balance academics with athletics.
Tyler was known as a very patriotic person and was one of four students awarded an internship to attend a summer week in Washington, D.C., to work with local and national government representatives. His essay on the “Bill of Rights” won recognition by the Library of Congress and the State of Connecticut in a national social studies competition. He received his award at a special ceremony at the Connecticut State House.
As an economics student at Columbia, Tyler continued his involvement both on and off the court. Hampered by injuries he ended his varsity basketball career in his junior year and channeled his energy into other activities. For his fraternity, Kappa Delta Rho, Tyler served as Vice President, Secretary and Webmaster.
A devout Catholic who attended mass regularly and had a natural leadership quality that encouraged friends to follow suit, Tyler Ugolyn became one of the founding members of Columbia Catholic Athletes. He initiated and ran an inner city youth basketball league for Harlem children. He was active in the annual Columbia Outreach Volunteer Organization and a soup kitchen volunteer in Harlem.
He became a Eucharistic Minister and he served as a sponsor for a student who converted to Catholicism. He also participated as a Columbia University representative along with students from Poland, Spain, Argentina and Rome in a transatlantic television prayer service with Pope John Paul II to pray the Rosary in Latin for world peace.
After graduation from Columbia College of Columbia University in the spring of 2001, Tyler joined Fred Alger Management, a major investment management firm in the World Trade Center. He was a research associate.
While Tyler was described as a “normal Ridgefield kid” who loved to be with his friends, he was also never afraid to show his strong faith or his family commitment. Ty’s friends called him a self-assured, fun-loving guy who always found even the simplest things entertaining.
“He was a presence,” said one friend. “No, he was his own presence. He was an inspiration to be around. He was the centerpiece.”
Tyler Ugolyn leaves behind many friends and family members including his parents and a younger brother, Trevor, as well as his maternal and paternal grandmothers in Springfield, Mass.
A memorial service and celebration of Tyler Ugolyn’s life will be held on Saturday, Sept. 22, at 10 a.m. at St. Mary’s Church.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to the Tyler Ugolyn Foundation, c/o Ridgefield Bank, P.O. Box 2050, Ridgefield, CT 06877-0950. —GERRI LEWIS