Back in July of 2013, I learned that Dan DeRossi’s illness had progressed to the point that the end was near. Prior to that, I had been calling my long time friend at least once a month to check in on him. I wanted to pick up the phone and call him that day but instead I decided to write the following letter and post it on the popular Amsterdam-related Facebook Group pages. Dan knew how much I cherished our friendship and I wanted everyone else to understand why as well.
After writing and posting it, Dan’s beloved daughter Gina let me know that she would make sure her Dad saw it. That’s when I made that last call. When he said hello I knew from the weakness in his voice that I would never get the chance to talk to my friend again.
Dan was born here in Amsterdam on September 2, 1941 and passed away just a half dozen days short of his 72nd birthday, on August 27, 2013. Here’s the letter I wrote about today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant:
“One reason why I’ve chosen to stay in Amsterdam are the people who live in this City. I’ve travelled all over this country and can honestly say the nicest most caring people I’ve ever met live right here in our little backyard of this glorious Mohawk Valley. One classic example is my good and long-time friend Dan DeRossi. Our relationship got off on the wrong foot when he became my coach on the St Michael’s CYO basketball team and made me sit the bench too much (-: But years later we both sat on the same GASD Board of Education and it was then that I really got to know what an intelligent, caring, honest and forward looking man Danny is. He always strives to look for the good in every person and situation and he inspired me to do the same. He would always remind me that most people dislike and are resistant to change of any kind and I think of that as I read the posts on this board concerning the changing traffic patterns in our city’s downtown. Dan has always been a champion of civility and discussion. He can disagree and argue with the best of them and he has great passion for many local issues. but he never hated or insulted those who opposed him. Instead he carefully listened to what they had to say, and gave them his consideration and respect. I’ve also never met a man any more devoted to his family than Danny is to his wife Lorri and daughters Michele and Gina. One of my least believable jokes was telling Lorri how sorry I was she has to put up with this guy. (On the other hand one of my favorite and most accurate Dan DeRossi jokes is that when he finishes a Russo’s hot meatball sandwich, his dish is usually so clean the confused waitresses don’t know if its been used or not.) The truth is that Dan and Lorri are as much in love today as the day they met. Danny. I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately and I just want to publicly say thank you for being my friend and for making my hometown a better place to live.”