Dominic DiFrisco, voice of Chicago's Italian-American Community, dead at 85

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Dominic DiFrisco, the man known as the "voice of Chicago's Italian-American Community," died Saturday morning due to complications from lymphoma.

He was 85.

For decades, he steered the ABC7 broadcast booth during the annual Columbus Day Parade, providing color commentary with his encyclopedic knowledge of Chicago-Italian history and achievements.

He was the most recognized and vocal supporter of local Italian Americans.

DiFrisco helped ressurect Little Italy's Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii. He was President Emeritus of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans (JCCIA) and well-known for creating and hosting its annual Dante Awards.

"When he spoke he had a talent with words, a majestic talent with words that was awe-inspiring," said Jo Ann Serpico, JCCIA executive director.

When Dominic felt the Italian community was not being given a fair shake he rose to the defense - as in protecting the renaming of Balbo Drive.

Balbo stayed and Congress Parkway became Ida B Wells which DiFrisco supported. He also insisted on inclusion of other ethnic groups and Jewish Holocaust victims in Chicago's Columbus Day Parade.

An intersection was named for him, as well as a booth - ok, office at Gene & Georgetti's - where he held court.

"Dominic was the backbone and the spine of the Italian American community. God knows what we are going to do now. There's no go-to person anymore," said Lou Rago, Columbus Day Parade marshal.

After graduating from Fordham University in 1955, DiFrisco began his public relations career that brought him to Chicago in 1962, thanks to an introduction to then-Mayor Richard J. Daley. His career in public relations gave him the perfect background as a bridge-builder between the public and private sectors.
DiFrisco was born November 14, 1933, in the Bronx to Leoluca and Antonina, immigrants from Corleone, Sicily.

A wake will be held noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii, 1224 W. Lexington St., Chicago. A funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the church.

In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made to The Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii.

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