"Clooney's funeral today in Maysville: Public is welcome"

By Jennifer Mrozowski, The Cincinnati Enquirer, July 5, 2002

  MAYSVILLE, Ky. — The police chief and mayor of Maysville, residents and florists finalized plans Thursday for today's public funeral service to lay to rest Rosemary Clooney, the entertainment legend who forever called this tiny river city home.

  The 74-year-old music and movie star, who was born in Maysville, began her career in 1945 in Cincinnati singing with her sister, Betty, on WLW-AM. She died Saturday of lung cancer at her home in Beverly Hills, Calif.

  A 10 a.m. funeral Mass followed by a cemetery service is planned at St. Patrick Church in Maysville, the same spot where Ms. Clooney married her longtime partner, Dante DiPaolo, in 1997. The church is expected to open at 9:15.

  Residents of this tight-knit riverside community of nearly 9,000 say they will miss Ms. Clooney's kindness and down-home pride.

  “She was an excellent ambassador for Maysville and never forgot her hometown,” said Johnny Mains, a Maysville commissioner. “She was just a nice lady.”

  The city has been preparing for the hundreds of people expected to attend today's funeral.

  Florists Liz and Carl Berry, owners of Flower Affair by Carl and Liz, said they spent the Fourth of July in their shop assembling dozens of grand floral arrangements made up of white roses, orchids, star gazer lilies and “you name it.”

  To accommodate the onslaught of orders for Ms. Clooney's funeral, the Berrys enlisted the help of their daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren.

  “We've been working since 8 a.m. this morning, and we're still not done,” Mrs. Berry said Thursday afternoon. But she was glad to do it, she said, because Rosemary was “very good to Maysville.”

  Police Chief Van Ingram said about a dozen of the town's 24 officers will be on duty, setting up barricades and directing traffic.

  Rev. William Hinds, who will say the funeral Mass, said the church holds 800 people and was filled for Ms. Clooney's 1997 wedding. Hundreds of others lined the streets.

  “We're hoping people who want to come in and pray will be able to do that,” he said. However, Rev. Hinds cautioned that the church is not air-conditioned.

  “We're hoping for rain today,” he said, adding that weather forecasters predicted cooler weather.

  Handicap parking is available behind the church, 110 E. 3rd St.

  Mayor David Cartmell, who lives a few houses down from the Russell Theater, where Ms. Clooney's movie The Stars Are Singing premiered in 1953, said the city is somber as its prepares for the funeral of the hometown star who never forgot her Kentucky heritage.

  She had a home in nearby Augusta and visited Maysville annually for benefit concerts to help restore the Russell Theater.

  “There's something about growing up in a river town,” Mr. Cartmell said. “Through the good and the bad, you always want to return there.”

  And now she has.