"Rosemary Clooney begins journey home"

By Jim Knippenberg, jknippenberg@enquirer.com

Thursday, July 04, 2002 - The Cincinnati Enquirer


  BEVERLY HILLS — Hollywood royalty and just plain folks said goodbye to Maysville's Rosemary Clooney Wednesday at a simple, 20-minute rosary service at the Church of the Good Shepherd.

  More than 350 mourners filled the Spanish-style church to capacity in the neighborhood where Ms. Clooney's five children grew up and where Ms. Clooney attended services.

  Ms. Clooney, 74, the self-described “girl singer,” died Saturday of lung cancer.

  Wednesday's service was originally to be open to the public, but response was so overwhelming the family thought it would be better to go invitation-only, said Linda Dororetz, Ms. Clooney's publicist.

  She said the family did not expect such interest but wanted to have a service in California for Ms. Clooney's friends.

  The altar was bare except for huge sprays of white flowers. Green streamers that matched Ms. Clooney's green velvet wedding dress from 1997 hung from pillars.

  The service was simple, with a reading from St. Paul's second letter to the Corinthians, and “Amazing Grace” played on the church organ.

  Son Gabriel Vincente Ferrer said Ms. Clooney would be buried in Kentucky “because it's where Mama wanted to be, near her Mama.”

  Daughter Maria Providencia Ferrer-Murdock said the service “was what we hoped it would be. It was absolutely lovely.

  “I think Monsignor (Colm O'Ryan) did a lovely job of explaining the rosary and what it meant to Mama,” she said.

  “This is Rosemary. She could have filled 10 churches this size,” said Lyda Parke, a neighbor of Ms. Clooney's 25 years ago. “I came hoping to get in and say one last prayer with her, but they say the church is going to be packed solid.”

  Ms. Clooney's husband, Dante DiPaolo, her five children, 10 grandchildren and actor George Clooney, her nephew, attended the ceremony.

  Nick Clooney, her brother, was not present. He is planning a service in Maysville. The family will reassemble at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Patrick Church in Maysville for a funeral Mass and graveside service.

  “Tonight was just a prayer for our girl singer,” said Rodger Waless, who described himself as an old acquaintance, “not close enough to get in church but close enough to pray for her.”

  Among celebrities attending the service were Olympic skater Scott Hamilton, actress-comedian Rose Marie, actress Ann Rutherford, jazz singer Keely Smith, singer and composer Michael Feinstein, and Broadway composers Marilyn and Alan Bergman.

  North Santa Monica Boulevard, which runs by the church, was at a standstill before the service, partly because of limos dropping off guests and partly because of sightseers.

  About 20 photographers lined the steps of the church before the service. None was allowed inside, though they took photos of those arriving.