Nick Clooney hears about death while at Riverbend

By Rick Bird, Post staff reporter

Rosemary Clooney would no doubt have approved what her younger brother was doing on the night she died.

Nick Clooney, with wife, Nina, attended a Cincinnati Pops concert Saturday at Riverbend - an orchestra she had appeared with numerous times. The special guest was pianist/vocalist Michael Feinstein, a long-t ime friend of Rosemary's.

During what would be his final conversation with his sister last Thursday, Nick said the two talked about her still rallying from cancer to appear at the annual music festival in her honor in Maysville, Ky. in Se ptember.

In a life full of comebacks, it was one the gutsy singer would not make.

Nick remembered that last conversation as fun and playful, like most he had with his sister o ver the years, even as she and her family knew the prognosis was not good.

''She and I talked about (Maysville),'' Nick said from his Augusta home Sunday. ''She said, 'Maybe I'll sing a little something.' I said, 'How are you sounding'? She said, 'Fine.' And she sang a li ttle something. We both sang a little with each other. We talked how they could bring her a wireless mike to wear where she would be sitting.''

Clooney said the family had learned in the last couple weeks that his sister's lung cancer had returned and doctors had ruled out more surgery. They said she could live three months to a year without treatment. E xperimental drugs had just a 25 percent chance of success. She was scheduled to start the treatment Saturday.

''Being the eternal optimists, Dante and I thought, she's tough. Maybe she'll pull throug h and be able to do it. Maybe she'll make it to Maysville.''

Clooney heard of his sister's death while at Riverbend Saturday night. He said earlier in t he day that Rosemary's husband, Dante DiPaolo, had called and said she had taken a sudden turn for the worse and might not survive the day.

The Clooney's booked a flight out of Columbus at 3:30 Sunday morning - the first one they c ould get on. In the meantime, Nick decided to continue with his Riverbend plans because Feinstein had expected him a nd he was a long-time family friend. Clooney said his son, George, had been with Rosemary the afternoon she died at her Los Angele s home.

''I know he gave her a kiss on the forehead for me and Nina.''