CLA student board president dies during break

Chris Pomarico, 26, complained of being faint and dizzy when he left work Sunday. He had a clean health history.

by Lindsay Guentzel

For University senior Chris Pomarico, Tuesday nights were usually about hanging out with friends, eating burgers and drinking beer at the American Sports Cafe in St. Paul. But last night, the group’s table sat empty.

Pomarico died Sunday at his apartment in St. Paul’s Como Park neighborhood at age 26. Ramsey County medical examiners have not yet determined the cause of death.

Memorial service

For more details about Saturday’s memorial service for Chris Pomarico, please call Spielman Mortuary (651) 451-1551.

Economics senior Steve Anderson, who was Pomarico’s roommate, said Pomarico went to his first day of work at PetSmart in St. Paul around noon, but left after an hour because he felt dizzy and faint.

PetSmart operations manager Deb Fiel also said Pomarico told her he wasn’t feeling well before he left work.

Anderson said he and two friends found Pomarico at the apartment around 6:15 p.m. Sunday. A Ramsey County medical examiner who was at the scene told him Pomarico had been dead for a couple of hours, he said.

“That was a pretty big shock,” Anderson said.

Pomarico’s mother, Evelyn Pomarico, said her son, an only child, had gone home to Mankato to spend Thanksgiving with her.

She said she spoke with him Sunday after he had returned to the Twin Cities.

Evelyn Pomarico said he might have been experiencing heart attack-like symptoms that he ignored.

“Everybody seems to think that maybe it was a heart attack,” she said. “He was under a lot of stress.”

Evelyn Pomarico said he didn’t have a history of health problems.

Anderson said his roommate rarely drank alcohol and didn’t use drugs.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, but the location and time are not yet decided, Evelyn Pomarico said.

As president of the College of Liberal Arts Student Board, Chris Pomarico was an individualized studies major in the communications and business fields who hoped to graduate next spring, Anderson said.

University graduate student and Pomarico’s friend Eric Winter said Pomarico, who had previously worked in a pet store in Mankato, wanted to open his own store someday.

“He was an amazing salesman,” Winter said. “He could sell anybody everything.”

Journalism adjunct instructor Matt Kucharski, one of Pomarico’s teachers, said Pomarico was a passionate student who wanted to learn everything he could about opening a successful business.

“He sat right in the front of the class and was always eager to participate,” Kucharski said.

Evelyn Pomarico said her son was a motivated leader who wanted to be his own boss.

“He had dreams bigger than we could ever imagine,” she said. “He knew exactly where he was going.”

Susan Hunter Weir, the board’s adviser, said she had worked with Pomarico since he was elected president in fall 2006.

“He had such a nice sense of humor and he was always smiling,” she said.

He was an energetic leader whom she often teased about being too nice, Hunter Weir said.

She said she told him, “It makes it tricky to take you seriously as a boss because you’re just so nice all the time.”

Hunter Weir said board members will be organizing a memorial service during their meeting this week.

Anderson, who met Pomarico about two years ago when they both worked at CompUSA in Roseville, said he was a strong leader even at his part-time job.

It was surprising how he could juggle school, his jobs and his leadership position, Anderson said.

“He always was able to do that and get everything done,” he said.

Journalism junior and CLA student board vice president Bethany Khan said he was a trustworthy friend who always seemed to have the answer when someone needed him.

“He always had a plan B,” she said. “Nothing was impossible.”

Khan said one of her favorite memories of Pomarico was when he took her to get a Juicy Lucy cheeseburger from a local restaurant this summer because she had never had one before.

“He was always up for something new,” she said.

Khan said she will always remember the black 93X radio station hat he wore.

“It really came to symbolize Chris, in a way, because whenever he would go anywhere, he would always wear the hat,” she said. “The deans would always poke fun of him.”

A New York native, Pomarico came to Minnesota at age 17.

“He had a really goofy sense of humor,” Winter said. “One of his favorite things was finding strange quotes on the Internet.”

Winter, who met his fiancée through Chris Pomarico, said their group of friends had been meeting weekly at the American Sports Cafe for a year and half.

“He enjoyed the BS sessions we had,” Winter said.

Evelyn Pomarico said she’ll miss her son’s smile and jokes, but will miss his laughter most.

“He had such a great laugh,” she said. “He could laugh and just enjoy that laughter.”

Allison Wickler contributed to this report.