``In the times I was in his company, I found him to be a man who cared about listening to other people,'' comedian Don Rickles said. ``Perry was a special kind of guy whose charisma will never be matched.''

Comic Jack Swersie, who opened for Como during the singer's last three tours in the early 1990s, said he was amazed at how active the singer was even in his later years.

``He was, simply put, the nicest person I have ever met and the greatest man I ever worked with,'' Swersie said.

Como almost never ignored a fan, the comedian added, even when it was inconvenient.

``One time our tour bus broke down outside of Pittsburgh, and we all took refuge in this roadside diner,'' Swersie recalled. ``Of course, the employees all got on the phone immediately and told their friends and relatives who was stuck in their restaurant.''

The diner quickly filled with local fans seeking autographs and pictures with Como.

``Perry didn't think he was better than anybody,'' Swersie said. ``He treated everybody with respect and was always willing to give of himself.''

Born in Canonsburg, Pa., one of 13 children of Italian immigrants, Como left his job as a steel town barber in the 1930s to sing with big bands. His songs became a mainstay of radio and jukeboxes in the late 1940s and he pioneered variety shows in the 1950s. In 1945, Como had his first million-selling hit, ``Till the End of Time.''

Rock 'n' roll eventually replaced the old-time crooners on the music charts, but Como continued performing on television in later decades, most notably with his famed Christmas specials.

His career saw a resurgence in the 1970s with songs like ``It's Impossible,'' ``And I Love You So,'' which was later performed by ``American Pie'' singer Don McLean.

In 1987, President Reagan presented Como with a Kennedy Center award for outstanding achievement in the performing arts.

Neighbors said the singer never let the accolades go to his head.

Longtime friend Harry Pezzullo, golf director emeritus at Ballen Isles Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens, said he and Como played in many charity golf tournaments.

``This was the most charitable man I met in my life,'' he said. ``That's what people loved. He never said 'no' when it was a charity. This guy was ready to give you a helping hand.''

His wife, Roselle Como, died in August 1998, less than two weeks after she and Como celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. At a charity event weeks later, Como dedicated his hit ``And I Love You So'' to her, Pezzullo said.

Neighbors Bob and Bea Snyder said they knew Como for two decades. He enjoyed golfing, fishing and talking with neighbors in the sleepy community of Jupiter Inlet Colony at the southern end of Jupiter Island.

The couple has a vintage barber chair in their living room and Como, remembering his former career as a barber, used to offer to cut Bob Snyder's hair.

``He offered every time he saw my chair,'' said Snyder, 69. ``He said I don't know how long I'll be able to sing so I want to keep up with my barber's shears.''

Como's wake service is scheduled for Thursday evening at St. Edward's Catholic Church in Palm Beach. A funeral Mass will be held the next morning, the day Como would have turned 89.

Perry Como
The Faces of Alzheimer's
Where Memories Are Kept Alive...
Perry Como, famous for hits including ``Catch a Falling Star'' and ``Papa Loves Mambo,'' was a dedicated showman who never forgot his roots as a humble barber, his friends remembered on Sunday.

The fatherly crooner, known for his mellow style and cardigan sweaters, died Saturday at the age of 88 at his home in Jupiter Inlet Colony, Fla.
Como's daughter, Terri Thibadeau, said her father was with his caregiver when he closed his eyes and died while sitting in a chair in his bedroom. He had suffered from Alzheimer's for about two years, she said.

His fellow entertainers mourned the singer Bing Crosby once called ``the man who invented casual.''
From the AP following his death -
Singer and actor, Perry Como suffered with Alzheimer's for two years prior to his death.

Here is an excellent website dedicated to his memory and his music.