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Article updated: 2/24/2013 6:21 PM

Tragic string of circumstances kill 2003 Geneva grad in Texas home

By Tara García Mathewson

The tragic set of circumstances that led to the death of Geneva High School grad Raymond Allen Kaligian III has left his family and friends reeling.

If his car hadn't come with a remote-control start, if he hadn't fallen asleep in his bedroom, if his Houston townhouse didn't have a central vacuum unit, if he hadn't just filled up his gas tank ... the list of "what-ifs" is long in a case where, had one thing gone just a little differently, the 28-year-old may still be alive.

But nothing did go differently, and Kaligian died Feb. 17 when the fumes from his new car -- turned on accidentally -- filled his bedroom through a vacuum tube that started in the garage, according to family friend and neighbor Mike McCormick.

"It's just a horrible, heartbreaking series of bad situations that led to his death," McCormick said. Kaligian's dog, Willie, died at his side.

The former Geneva resident moved to Houston for a job with Phillips 66 after graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana in 2007. Kaligian got his start through the company's Selective Leader Development Program, then worked in field sales in West Virginia before returning to Houston as director of base oil sales. Kaligian was seen as a rising star in the company.

McCormick said the family planned memorial services in Houston for his friends and co-workers, in Geneva for the people he grew up with and in Boston, where his extended family lives.

McCormick, a member of the Geneva School District 304 board of education, said people still talk about the 2003 graduate. He was an accomplished athlete, recognized as an All-Conference golfer in 2002 and an All-Conference baseball player in 2002 and 2003.

Kaligian also was a scholar, a musician, a traveler and an adventurer.

"He made us all proud," McCormick said. "It's just a shame. He had such a great life ahead of him."

Kaligian is survived by his parents, Ray and Bobbie, as well as his paternal grandparents and many aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. He was an only child, but found brothers in college when he joined the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Feb. 28 at the Yurs Funeral Home, 1771 W. State St., in Geneva. Visitation will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Feb. 27 at the same location.

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