For Dominic and Patricia Rossi, life was about family, community and service.
“I am biased, but I feel my parents were great people,” said their son, Joe Rossi. “They put family first, they gave back to their community through service, they stood up for what they believed in and they weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.”
That dedication to serving the community in which they lived —Cicero — has been reflected in the way that community remembers the Rossis nearly two decades after both passed away. There’s a street in town called Rossi Court, named after Dominic, and a garden in front of NOPL @ Brewerton planted in Patricia’s memory.
In addition, Joe Rossi holds a fundraiser dinner every year that serves a dual purpose: it memorializes his parents while raising money for an important cause close to their hearts.
“Both Dominic and Patricia were supporters of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital,” Joe Rossi said. “I remember my father feeling guilty for getting prayers from friends, when little kids were fighting for their lives as well. I can’t put it into words, but Dominic and Patricia put their condition in perspective, not by begging for more time on Earth, but by being thankful for how much time they had. After Dad passed, the family asked for contributions to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in lieu of flowers. Mom continued to support St. Jude and we honored her with contribution requests for St. Jude as well after she passed.”
According to Fran Pickles, senior event marketing representative at St. Jude’s Albany office, the dinner supports St. Jude’s mission of raising awareness and researching children’s cancers.
“Our staff supports many fundraising efforts, such as the Dominic and Patricia Rossi Memorial Dinner, all across upstate New York and Vermont,” Pickles said. “St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other deadly diseases. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing and food, because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. The Dominic and Patricia Rossi Memorial Dinner, and the Syracuse community who supports the effort year after year, makes sure that St. Jude has the freedom to focus on what matters most — saving kids regardless of their financial situation.”
Rossi said he thought his parents would be embarrassed by the attention — “They didn’t like to be in the spotlight,” he said — but pleased with the way their family is using their legacy.
“I’d like to think they are proud of how we moved forward after losing them,” he said. “It’s important to bring awareness about the amazing treatment and research being done at St. Jude.”
Pickles noted that any discoveries made at St. Jude benefit all pediatric cancer patients.
“St. Jude freely shares the breakthroughs it makes, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children,” she said.
That’s why fundraisers like the Rossi dinner, which celebrates its eighth year this year, are so important.
“Every little bit adds up and helps,” Rossi said. “We plan on having this dinner for many years to come.”
The dinner not only helps sick kids, but the Rossis’ surviving family, as well.
“Simply put, I miss them and knew their friends and family did, too,” Rossi said. “And I have children who never met their grandparents so this allows us every year to keep them around in our lives in a positive way.”
The eighth annual Dominic and Patricia Rossi Memorial Dinner will take place at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 12, at the Lake Shore Yacht and Country Club, 6777 Lake Shore Road, Cicero. The dinner will feature special guest Alfonse D’Amato, former Republican senator for New York state. Tickets are $85 for individuals or $1,020 for a table of 12; ticket purchases include a complimentary bottle of wine at the table. For more information or to purchase a ticket, visit stjude.org/rossidinner or contact Fran Pickles at (518) 453-6800 or
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.