Dominick “Don” D’Ambrosio, 96, Jasper

Dominick (Dom) D’Ambrosio, 96, of Jasper, died Sunday, February 10 at Northwood Retirement Community in Jasper. He was born in Kayford, West Virginia,  August 16, 1922, to Italian immigrants Rosella Amareno and Gerardo D’Ambrosio. He married Mary Becker June 22, 1946, at St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Cincinnati. She died in 2009.

Dom was working at the General Spring Company in Cincinnati to put himself through night school. He soon dove into a nascent organizing effort there, becoming president of his Local 820 union at age 19. He worked at the company until 1946, while studying at the University of Cincinnati Evening College, the Radio and Speech Department of the former Cincinnati College of Music, the Berlitz School of Languages, and the Ohio College of Applied Science. Upon graduation, he became a radio DJ, specializing in jazz and classical music, in Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia. He returned to Cincinnati in 1949 to devote the rest of his career to the labor movement.

He quickly rose through the ranks of the Allied Industrial Workers (now part of the Steelworkers), serving as Director of Region 4 from 1957 to 1970 and International Secretary-Treasurer from 1970 to 1975. He was elected to serve four terms as International President of the Allied Industrial Workers from 1975 to 1991 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, one of the youngest presidents of an AFL-CIO union at the time. He was known for leading the nationwide union to embrace progressive strategies and build coalitions with other unions representing workers in common industries. Among the many accomplishments of his tenure, he co-chaired the Wisconsin Labor-Environmental Network, a coalition of labor and environmental groups that effectively lobbied for the state’s landmark recycling legislation. He also championed the union’s involvement in coalition-building with the religious community to better the lives of all residents. He was a vocal critic of income inequality, advocating for higher wages, stronger pensions, and better conditions for workers throughout his career.

Dom was an avid jazz, classical music, theater, art, and opera lover. He had a passion for singing and reciting poetry, which he did till his dying day. He was also an excellent athlete, despite a childhood accident that left him with a disabled left hand. Besides going to movies, plays, and concerts, and discussing politics and pop culture, he and his wife loved to dance. They were jitterbug champions in competitions on The Delta Queen and other venues throughout Cincinnati.

He is survived by one daughter, Nancy Habig and husband Doug, Jasper; three grandchildren, Lauren Lowe and husband Ethan, State College, Pennsylvania, Josh Habig and wife Jennifer, San Diego, California, and Jill (Addisu Demissie) Habig, Oakland, California; and four great-grandchildren, Aidan, Graham, and Alexandra Lowe and Elise Habig.

Friends may call from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Becher-Kluesner Downtown Chapel in Jasper. A memorial service begins at 2 p.m. Burial will be in St. Joseph’s New Cemetery Association in Cincinnati at a later date. A second memorial service will be held at the Neidhard-Minges Funeral Home in Cincinnati Saturday, April 6. Details will be announced at a later date. Memorial contributions can be made to the Sisters of St. Benedict in Ferdinand,  the Cincinnati Opera, or the Wisconsin\ Labor History Society. Online memorials can be shared at www.becherkluesner.com.

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