"Mourners jam town, fill church with flowers: A solemn farewell to Rosemary Clooney"

By Shelly Whitehead, Cincinnati Post - July 5, 2002

By 8 this morning two dozen people had already assembled outside St. Patrick's Church in Maysville where funeral services for the city's favorite daughter, Rosemary Clooney, would take place two hours later.

But before dawn local florists had already filled the church with flower arrangements called in from the star's friends all over the world, including one order for white orchids and roses from Bob Hope.

All across the tiny river town of 9,000 people, streets and businesses bustled with activity early this morning in preparation for a final farewell to the local girl with the beautiful voice and big heart who died last Saturday.

The 10 a.m. traditional Roman Catholic funeral mass at St. Patrick's Church in Maysville was expected to fill the church, which holds up to 800 people.

"For (Ms. Clooney's) wedding we had about 600 or 800 people here and we expect the same number here today," said Mary Palmer, who coordinated the funeral at St. Patrick's Church.

"We'll have just the choir singing and Nick (Clooney) will be doing the readings. {hellip} and the Gospel reading will be given by Father Hinds."

St. Patrick's Church pastor, the Very Rev. William H. Hinds, also celebrated Ms. Clooney's 1997 marriage.

Flowers streamed into the church and to members of Ms. Clooney's family. Local florists said most mourners sent roses in honor of Ms. Clooney's nickname, Rosie. She also preferred assortments of white flowers, which would dominate arrangements at today's service, they said.

"She was one of our customers," said Maysville florist Leslie Gifford, owner of Carol Jean Flowers. "She liked all white arrangements. {hellip} The family's pieces were mixed roses {hellip} and Bob Hope wanted to send all white — white roses and white orchids. But we couldn't get the white orchids so we went with all white with the roses."

Most local hotels and motels were fully booked with guests, for both the holiday weekend and Ms. Clooney's service today. The Ramada Inn Maysville estimated that nearly half of its 114 rooms were filled with guests in town for the star's funeral.

Following the 10 a.m. service, the funeral procession would follow a route of about five miles to St. Patrick's Cemetery on U.S. 68 for burial. A reception was planned at Nick and Nina Clooney's party house on Riverside Drive in Augusta from 1p.m. to 4 p.m.