Jan. 16—MANCHESTER — State and local officials will gather Sunday to dedicate and name a swimming pool at Manchester High School for federal court judge Dominic J. Squatrito, a former local diving champion who died at age 82 in 2021.
Squatrito served as a U.S. District Court judge for 10 years.
President Bill Clinton appointed him to the federal bench for the District of Connecticut in 1994. Squatrito became a semi-retired senior judge in 2004, a post he held until his death.
He was well known as a vigorous advocate of civil rights and equality, who enjoyed presiding over naturalization ceremonies.
In addition to his stellar judicial and legal career, his legacy includes that of a high school and college athlete, having held Manchester High School's diving record for 25 years.
Squatrito graduated in 1957, the same year he set the school record with a score of 65.83. That record stood until 1982. Squatrito also was involved in football and track and field and placed sixth in pole vaulting at a regional competition.
After graduating from high school, Squatrito attended Wesleyan University, where he continued in sports as a fullback and co-captain of the college football team. He graduated from Wesleyan in 1961 and attended the University of Florence, Italy, on a Fulbright scholarship before attaining his law degree from Yale University in 1965.
Mayor Jay Moran said the push to memorialize Squatrito in this way came from retired Superior Court Judge Richard Dyer, who was looking to honor his former colleague for his work as a Manchester resident.
The Board of Directors voted unanimously in June 2022 to rename the Manchester High School swimming pool in Squatrito's honor.
Moran said Squatrito was an advocate for justice and equality in his career, and the pool was a spot to honor his high school athleticism and have his name embedded in the community.
Dyer said when those close to Squatrito were looking to memorialize him, the high school's pool was an obvious choice.
"This pool, it means a lot to the Squatrito family, and I think it would have meant a lot to Dominic," Dyer said.
Dyer said in addition to his diving record, Squatrito would swim at the pool during his off time while working as a lawyer. His sons Sergio and Sandro Squatrito helped teach developmentally disabled children to swim there as well, he said.
Dyer said he and Squatrito were childhood friends and worked together at a law firm before both departing in 1994 to serve as judges in different courts.
Dyer said Squatrito's roles throughout his life include serving as legal counsel to the state senate, chairing the Manchester Commission on Aging, and as a skilled political tactician who worked on former U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman's campaigns.
"He did a lot more than just be a federal judge," Dyer said.
Dyer said Squatrito also was a humanitarian, working with Operation Crossroads in Africa in the 1960s and helping to raise funds for the voter registration movement in the South during the civil rights movement.
"He knew his way around the courtroom, he knew his way around politics, but most of all, he knew humanity," Dyer said.
Dyer said Squatrito had a passion for justice and fairness, tempered with a great deal of compassion.
"He would also give you the shirt off his back, he literally would," Dyer said, recalling many instances Squatrito expressed generosity throughout his life.
Dyer said above all, Squatrito was a "beautiful person" who deserves the recognition, even if he might have been too humble to admit it.
"His kids tell me he'd probably be embarrassed that we're doing this, but he really deserves it," Dyer said.
Joseph covers Manchester and Bolton for the Journal Inquirer.