Rose J. Santillo, popular country music singer - The Buffalo News

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Rose J. Santillo, popular country music singer

Sept. 12, 1932 – June 4, 2014

Rose J. Santillo, known in some circles by her country performer names “Rose LeClaire” and “Tennesee Rose,” died Wednesday in Hospice House Brookside, Palm Harbor, Fla. She was 81.

Ms. Santillo lived most of her life in Buffalo and was best known for her success in country music.

She first sang on the Saturday night television show “Barn Dance,” hosted by Art Young. She also appeared on the “Ramblin’ Lou” show as well as numerous other radio programs.

She later became involved in Dixieland music and performed in a number of mellow dance orchestras, accompanied by local artists such as Eli Konikoff (once the drummer for the band Spyro Gyra) and Jerry Battistoni (an accomplished piano and violin player).

During her final 15 years in the entertainment world, Ms. Santillo accompanied herself on drums and guitar.

She had tremendous respect for musicians’ dedication and willingness to teach others.

Ms. Santillo was born in Buffalo and had worked as a real estate agent at Realty World.

She moved to Tarpon Springs, Fla., near the end of her life.

Ms. Santillo is survived by three daughters, Donna M. Napier, Diane R. Ohlson and Darlene A. Bodnar; a son, Alan R. LeClaire; and two grandchildren.

A memorial service will be scheduled in Amigone Funeral Home, 569 Cleveland Drive, Cheektowaga.

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