"Dante was a source of strength and love"

by Nick Clooney, Cincinnati Post, July 3, 2002

It is my hope that those who follow this column will understand if the subject matter is dominated this week by the events surrounding the death of my sister Rosemary.

Clearly, our loss is no more important than the loss of your sister or your mom or your daughter. The wrenching void I and my family feel is precisely the same that you feel.

If there is, in fact, any value to the recounting of the loss of one of the most high-profile among us — Rosemary Clooney — it is to remind everyone that there are universal experiences we all share: birth, courtship, marriage, childhood, school, work, death — no one escapes the clichés.

Let me write today about Rosemary Clooney's husband, Nina's and my cherished brother-in-law, Dante DiPaolo.

Dante knew Rosemary even before her marriage to the classical actor Jose Ferrer. Dante had worked with Rosemary on "White Christmas."

After Rosemary's separation and eventual divorce from Jose, Rosemary and Dante discovered one another again.

Both were too viscerally Catholic to marry until Jose had left Rosemary a widow and Dante's previous marriage was annulled.

The result was the loveliest marriage ceremony I have ever attended. It was nearly five years ago at St. Patrick's Church in Maysville. There was a reception at our Riverhouse in Augusta. Wow!

The intervening five years have been remarkable fun. Rosemary, Dante, Nina and I met time and again in Augusta to laugh and reminisce and talk about the future.

When the month of December 2001 and January 2002 yielded information we did not want to hear from the remarkable Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, our reaction was exactly the same as that of many of you has been. It's a mistake. Look again. Where's the second opinion? No way. Run the series again, obviously you are wrong.

They were, of course, not wrong.

In the cold winter and spring of the Rochester, Minnesota, months, all of us did our best to visit and bring whatever we could to Rosemary.

On the other hand, Dante was there every day — every day — every night. Fresh cooked dishes, a special book, a foot massage, whatever it took to make Rosemary comfortable.

As the winter wore on, Dante, a great artist in dance and music, dived head first into something he had never tried before: Poetry. What follows is a poem Dante wrote on March 22nd, 2002, as the Rochester winter was waning. Here is what Dante DiPaolo wrote:

"How well I know that spring has come
And with it hope, the warming sun;
But winter has left its bite of frost
Within my heart.

So prove me wrong and rid me of the pain,
Be washed away with soothing rain
And let me breathe again.

I know that spring has brought with it the
Ray of Hope;
If not, a summer I will take
With children's voices to awake
Her gently from her bothered sleep.

Always and forever love, Dante."

Dante will be in Maysville and Augusta. So will Rosemary's children and Betty's and Nina's and mine. Cousins and extended family will be there.

Of course, you are extended family, too, and are welcome. The funeral mass is at 10 a.m.Friday at St. Patrick's Church. There will be graveside rites following church. Then there will be a celebration of Rosemary's life on Riverside Drive in Augusta from 1-4.

Someone said to me that Rosemary's voice is now in heaven. If so, it seems only appropriate. That's where it came from.

Nick Clooney writes for The Post every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Write to him in care of The Post at 125 E. Court St., Cincinnati, Ohio 45202. E-mails sent to Nick at postliving@cincypost.com will be forwarded to him via regular mail.