Anthony DiPoala, 79, engineer, professional clown

August 12, 2005

Anthony DiPoala, who retired from his career as a Westinghouse Electric Corp. engineer to become a professional clown, died of Alzheimer's disease Aug. 4 at a health care center in New Castle, Del. The former Pasadena resident was 79.

Mr. DiPoala was born in Baltimore and raised in Highlandtown. He dropped out of high school and later earned his General Educational Development diploma and attended Anne Arundel Community College.

He served in the Navy from 1943 to 1945 as a gunner's mate aboard PT boats in the Pacific, and after the war took a job at the Lever Brothers plant in Southeast Baltimore. He then worked for 20 years as a quality assurance engineer at Westinghouse Electric Corp.'s Linthicum plant until retiring in 1975.

Mr. DiPoala began clowning in 1960 when a daughter volunteered him to perform at a Halloween party. He entertained children and adults locally at birthday parties, charity events and banquets.

After leaving Westinghouse, he turned the part-time hobby into a business as he crisscrossed the nation for a decade performing as "Dusty the Clown" or "Tony Dee" the magician.

His repertoire included stand-up comedy, juggling, fire-eating and balloon sculpting, and he gave as many as 350 shows in a year.

"I enjoyed doing Dusty the Clown because I was hiding behind makeup. I can do the dumbest, silliest things and people will laugh and I don't have to worry about apologizing later," he told a Rehoboth Beach, Del., newspaper several years ago.

After moving to Lewes, Del., in 1985, Mr. DiPoala drove the Jolly Trolley in Rehoboth Beach for several years, ferrying riders from a Route 1 parking lot to the boardwalk.

"And he was always pulling things out of his pockets to entertain the children aboard the trolley," said a daughter, Jean Landon of Elkridge.

Services are private.

Also surviving are his wife of 56 years, the former Vera Fedoruk; another daughter, Diane Eliasen of Stillwater, Mont.; two grandsons; and two great-granddaughters.

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