WEIRTON - Marg DiClemente has always had a gift of song, and she's been sharing it for approximately 40 years with patients at the Weirton Medical Center.
DiClemente has been a volunteer with the medical center's auxiliary since the early 1970s, and she has worked throughout the hospital, including 22 years with the gift cart. She also served as the auxiliary president in 1978-1979. For the past 25 years, she has been working on the skilled care floor.
"My thing is - I sing," she said. "It cheers people up."
DiClemente has been singing since her childhood in Wheeling, where she took vocal lessons at the St. Joseph Academy, where she was a star vocal pupil and was frequently featured in recitals, noting her mother said she was always allowed to go last, because she sang so loud it woke up whomever in the audience had fallen asleep. There had been an opportunity to go to the Julliard School, but her parents were reluctant to allow her to travel so far from home while she was still a teenager.
"I wanted to go so bad," she said, noting work was waiting for her, as well. "I resented it for many years. But I have had a wonderful life."
Instead, DiClemente sang "everywhere and anywhere that I could," including on WWVA-AM, where she was a frequent performer. Her father was one of her biggest and proudest fans, she said, describing an idyllic childhood in which her father worked and dedicated himself to his family and his garden at home and her mother was a housewife and accomplished cook, taking care of five girls and two boys. Her parents were Hungarian immigrants who became naturalized citizens.
"My father was so proud to be an American," she said. "We lived in South Wheeling, and there were so many people - German, Hungarian, all different nationalities, but everyone got along."
When her husband relocated to Weirton to work in the steel mills, she became involved in several Weirton-area groups, including the Church Women United and Weirton Woman's Club. She also joined the Trinity Lutheran Church.
She also began her volunteer work with the auxiliary, where she said the work - from the snack bar to the children's ward to the gift cart to the skilled care ward - has been rewarding and allowed her to gain perspective on what is important.
During her weekly volunteer stints, DiClemente sings for individual patients and also frequently leads sing-a-longs in the floor's activity room. She especially enjoys it when the patients join in and sing with her.
DiClemente has a daughter and a son who live out-of-town, and several grandchildren.
"I've been so blessed, so lucky," she said. "I have had a wonderful life and have had such wonderful people in it."
(Wallace-Minger can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)