Dominic DiFrisco was a man for all seasons. Born during the Depression in New York City to immigrant parents, he learned early on the importance of self-reliance and family. He grew up with two Italian-Americans heroes: Jolting Joe DiMaggio, the Yankee Clipper, who hit in a record 56 straight games; and New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, who built swimming pools and parks, putting the power of government to work for the people.
Dominic moved to Chicago for Alitalia, the perfect bridge between his heritage and his country. He continued to advocate for the recognition of Italian-Americans, such as Lee Iacocca and Frank Sinatra, as representatives of the American Dream.
He was a skilled public affairs practitioner. He knew all of the major players in Chicago: the Daleys, the aldermen, the judges. He was an active Democrat, a power broker in a city of power.
He worked for Burson-Marsteller in its heyday. Soon after leaving B-M, he ran into my father, Dan Edelman, and Dan asked: “What are you doing now?” Dominic said he had just left B-M. Always on the lookout for the best talent, Dan said, “Well, now you’re working for me.” For two decades, he was the ideal mentor for young talent, a magnet for new business such as Hilton, and our connection to opinion leaders in Chicago.
But what I will treasure most is his connection to the Edelman family. To provide a bit of variety from my father’s usual lunch fare of sea bass and salad, Dominic would take my mother Ruth to Gene & Georgetti for a martini, steak and cottage fries. He became pater familias for the three Edelman children with the passing of both of our parents in 2013. He checked in with us regularly, supported John with his citizenship and veterans' initiatives, and spent time with Renée when she visited Chicago. He told us often how grateful he was to Dan and Ruth and our family for the opportunity to work at Edelman and be energized every day. He gave a memorable wedding toast to my wife Claudia, in which he described her as Joe DiMaggio — the ultimate compliment in his book.
When I spoke with him for the last time on Friday, he told me that he loved me and my family. Dominic, my friend, we will miss you. I will take care of your wife Carol, daughter Nina and grandson Pasquale, because that is what you taught me about being a man.
Richard Edelman is president and CEO.