By ALISSA SCOTT
Recorder News Staff
By those close to him, Daniel DeRossi has been described as a quiet educator, a through-and-through family man, but above all else, a gentleman.
After an 18-month battle with pancreatic cancer, DeRossi died Tuesday morning. He was 71.
"He loved his God, he loved his family and he loved his Amsterdam," Nick Cassetta said of his "best friend." "That's what he was all about and he really showed it in his involvement in Amsterdam."
DeRossi was a life-long resident of Amsterdam and extensively involved in the community. Though in his weakened condition he wasn't able to attend many of the most recent AIDA meetings, he chaired the board.
"We did an awful lot of good things together," said Ron Barone, who had been filling in for DeRossi as chairman of AIDA while he's been sick. "Dan was a true, true troubadour and he really got things going. He wasn't afraid to speak his mind. That's what I loved about him."
DeRossi also spent 14 years with the Greater Amsterdam School District Board of Education, both as president and vice president.
"When we served on the board together he really taught me a lot about patience and looking for the good in every situation," said Mike Cinquanti, a close friend. "He was a unique person. I don't think I've ever met someone quite like him."
His most recent accomplishment, and something he was very proud of, was when Mayor Ann Thane surprised him with a key to the city, a recognition of his dedication and service.
"Dan gave selflessly to our community with grace and deliberate statesmanship," Thane said. "He worked across political lines for the betterment of this community and treated everyone he met with respect."
DeRossi was also a communicant of the former St. Michael the Archangel Roman Catholic Church and most recently the parish of St. Joseph-St. Michael-Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Amsterdam. He often attended services with Cassetta, and even co-chaired spaghetti dinners where they made meatballs together.
Still, with all of his communal commitments, family and friends said he still was very much a family man. One of his two daughters, Gina DeRossi, 3rd Ward Alderwoman, said her family is heartbroken, but they are spending time remembering special moments they had with him.
"My dad was the best," DeRossi said. "He always was very generous and taught us about family values and friendship and it's been great -- the outpouring of love from everyone in the community. He will be missed not only by our family, but I think everybody here in Amsterdam."
DeRossi is survived immediately by his wife Lorraine, his daughters Gina and Michele, and his "granddog" Chip.
He spent time with his family and friends at their timeshare in Lake Placid, always bringing the AIDA office a treat upon his return.
"Whenever he went away, he always brought candy back," said Sandy Yutes, executive assistant of AIDA. "He always used to bring this real nice box of candy from Lake Placid ... and he'd sit it at my desk. I tried to be good, but that was too much temptation."
DeRossi graduated from the former Wilbur H. Lynch Senior High School in 1959 and attended Albany Business College for accounting, later receiving his Bachelor's from the College of Saint Rose.
He was employed as an auditor by Mohasco Industries in Amsterdam, the New York State Thruway Authority and the NYS Department of Health, retiring in 2007.
"He was a gentleman and a gentle man," Barone said. "He tried right up until the end. He will sorely missed by a lot of people in this community, I can tell you that."
Funeral services will be held on Friday, August 30 at 11:15 a.m. at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Contributions can be made to the St. Joseph-St. Michael-Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church Memorial fund.