A champion for the city of Rome has passed away. The iconic former President of the Rome Chamber of Commerce, Bill Guglielmo died on Thursday after contracting an illness. He was 74.

Guglielmo was born in 1949. He was a 1967 graduate of Rome Free Academy. He then graduated from Morrisville College in 1969, and then the University of Buffalo in 1971. Shortly after graduating, he started working for the Rome Chamber of Commerce in 1975, where he would stay until just a few weeks ago when he retired after 50 years of service to the Rome business community. Guglielmo started as a staff assistant at the Chamber and he would rise all the way to the organization's presidency when he was appointed to the job in 1996.

Guglielmo "loved the family life afforded to him by his parents including the many opportunities for learning and recreational enjoyment in Boy Scouts Troop 11, as well as constantly being able to be outside year-round with the kids in the neighborhood, getting to know a lot about people and social interaction," according to his obituary. "Throughout his working career there was always time after hours to have fun with old friends and new friends."

Several community leaders have spoken fondly of Guglielmo. Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente said on Facebook, "Eleanor and I are deeply saddened by the passing of Bill Guglielmo. Bill was truly Mr. Rome and an icon in the community. There wasn’t an event or project that happened in and around the city that he wasn’t a part of. His love for Rome and its people was immeasurable and his loss will leave a gaping hole that will be impossible to fill. Our condolences go out to his family and friends."

Senator Joe Griffo and his wife Lorraine expressed their sympathy. Lorraine and I are saddened to hear of the passing of Bill Guglielmo and send our condolences to Bill's family during this difficult time. Bill was a good man, a dear friend and a passionate, tireless and strong promotor of and advocate for the City of Rome and its businesses. He had a steadfast and unwavering commitment to his community and was dedicated to making Rome a better place to live, work and raise a family. Bill will be greatly missed and fondly remembered by many.

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"I am deeply saddened by the loss of my good friend Bill Guglielmo," said Genesis President Ray Durso. "Bill and I were friends for more than 20 years. I was inspired by him and learned so much by being in his company. I admired and respected him. Bill was a man of discipline and routine. He did everything “by the book.”

The Chairman of the Rome Chamber Board, John Calabrese called Guglielmo"one of the kindest and most genuine people" he had ever met. "A one of a kind person. A person who has made such a positive impact on our Region and the people around him. Bill IS the Rome Chamber of Commerce, and we will honor him with everything that we do as we move forward," he said.

Calling hours are Thursday evening at Barry Funeral Home and a funeral mass will be held on Friday at 11 at St. Peter's Church.

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