Friday, 18th August 2017

The Outfit’s Rose: A Tribute To The Late Clara Cerone

Posted on 28. Oct, 2009 by in Announcements, Organized Crime

What Princess Diana was to England, Clara Cerone was to the Chicago Outfit. I know it sounds tacky, but I am being sincere. Aunt Clara, as I called her, was like a second mother to me, a source of happiness and personal strength that buoyed me through many tough times. I write this article a month late of the one-year anniversary of Clara’s passing, God rest her beautiful soul.

Chicago has been home to a number of special people, from Jane Adams to Michael Jordan. Among this illustrious company you would surely find Clara Russo Cerone.

On February 13, 1917, toward the end of World War I, Chicago had one inch of snow on the ground, accumulation from a couple of modest snowfalls earlier that month. The temperature was in the average range with a high of 31 and a low 15. It was a wholly unremarkable day until the birth of Clara A. Russo would mark it in the hearts and minds of many.

At a young age, Clara’s persistency and determination emerged. Her halo of red, curly hair made her stand out from the other little girls at school. She decided she had to straighten her rosy curls, ironing her hair in order to address the supposed problem. Aunt Clara would be hands on with her destiny for her whole life. This creative energy and raw determination, exhibited from such a young age, colored her interactions with the world at large.

Clara grew up in a Jewish part of the City of Chicago, and she could speak Yiddish, along with several other languages, fluently. She was a stickler for proper etiquette and grammar. Along with her linguistic acumen Clara possessed a number of artistic talents, much like the other Russo children, particularly Clara’s now late brother Leo the Artist. She was a talented dancer and singer. Aunt Clara would eventually teach many young children how to dance (including me – although I was not a good student).

Not only could Clara sing and dance, her mastery of the culinary arts rivaled the talents of many professional chefs. Everything from small get-togethers to massive parties and formal family functions were expertly catered by Clara. No one ever went away hungry or unsatisfied.

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  • Frank

    I have just read one of the most sweetest articles of all time.

  • Jenny

    I grew up in Elmwood Park, Illinois and remember seeing Clara Cerone in different restaurants. I always wanted to talk to her but I was told by others not to bother her. I always wondered what it was like to be her.

  • John

    Fosco, I think you are full of shit! You were never close to the Cerones!

  • Joseph Fosco

    Dear John,

    Please watch your language, I run a respectable internet magazine. As to your accusation that I am pretending that I was close with Clara Cerone, please visit the following link:

    You will find an official court transcript containing the sworn testimony of Clara Cerone’s son, Jack P. Cerone, Esquire. His testimony will show that I have traveled out of town to visit Clara Cerone, which I have several times. I believe this should satisfy your suspicions.
    On behalf of KTF Media Group, I thank you for your readership.


    Joseph Fosco

  • Mike

    Joe…a friend of mine in high school date Jackie’s daughter. But her name was Jackie, not Jill. Could this be the same person? I truly enjoy this website!

    • Joseph Fosco

      Dear Mike,

      Jackie (the lawyer) Cerone has 4-daughters. Each of them was born between the early to mid 1960’s. None of them is named Jackie. From oldest to youngest you have Debbie (or Debby), Gina, Jill and Carla. His adopted son was born in 1972 is named John, but everyone calls him Jackie. The family resided in Barrington, Illinois during their high school days. I hope this information helps you.

      • Mike

        Joe…I meant Jackie The Lackey’s daughter, not the lawyer.

        • Joseph Fosco

          Dear Mike,
          Yes, old man Jack Cerone’s daughter is named Jill, not Jackie.

          • The Don

            Joe, I never really read this article until now. This was a beautiful article and I commend your sensitivities. Very well written and heart felt. Does Clara Cerone have a sister or cousin living in Las Vegas or somehere out west? Would the husband of this female relative have the first name of ‘Jim’?

          • Joseph Fosco

            Dear The Don,
            Jack Cerone, Esq., Joe Lombardo, John DiFronzo and I have a bond. We love and miss Clara. She loved me as a son and I loved her as a second mother. All of Clara’s siblings are deceased as far as I can recall. No one from out west rings a bell.

          • Merlin Tenderpony

            Joe, refresh my memory–how did you come to associate with Esq., initially? Was it something that happened after your dad died and you started becoming acquainted with those people who were part of his Outfit life?

          • Joseph Fosco

            Dear Merlin,
            Jack was a friend of my parents. I had limited exposure to him during my father’s life, mainly due to my young age. In my early 20s, my dear friend Willie Messino (who grew up with my family on Taylor Street) had caused the reconnection between Jack and me. Shortly after our reconnection, Jackie pulled me on the side and told me that I “come from good stock” and that he wanted me under his wing. The rest is history.

          • Joseph Fosco

            Dear Merlin,
            If you are wondering about my explanation that Clara taught young children how to dance, yes, I was one of her students; however, I was not a young child when she gave me lessons. I apologize for not clarifying it better. My relationship with Aunt Clara was around 7 or 8-years in the making before Jack (her son) caused it to end. We continued with our friendship for a while behind his back because she knew that he wronged me, but he eventually figured out that we were getting together. Sadly, she called me one day to tell me that her son struck her, twisting her arm because he discovered that we went to Dr. Giacchino’s wedding together. She had to go to the emergency room because of it. In fact, I reported (anonymously) it to the Public Guardian; however, she must have covered for him because nothing ever became of it.

          • The Don

            Jack Junior must have learned that behavior from his father. I heard some of those kinds of stories that supposedly occured between Clara & Jack Senior.

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  • Steve J. Pellegrino

    Any relative named Marlene Cerone?