SOUTH PORTLAND - Santo "Sam" DiPietro, of South Portland, passed away peacefully Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, at home with his wife Helen, of 60 years, by his side.
He was born in Portland, Nov. 11, 1934, the son of Guerino and Graziella Rulli DiPietro, who immigrated from Abruzzi, Italy, and settled on Munjoy Hill in Portland. He attended local schools, graduating from Portland High School Class of 1954.
Like many of the children of immigrants, he learned English in school and brought it home to teach his parents. He was an outstanding three-letter athlete at Portland High School, and co-captain of the state champion football team. Additionally, he was voted best-dressed and best-looking, and was a member of the Bronzy Club.
He began working at age 8, shining shoes in Monument Square with his older brother, Carmine. Soon after, he went to work in his mother's store, DiPietros's Italian Sandwiches, on Cumberland Avenue, training that would serve him well later in his career. In addition to working in the family store, he was a salesman at Snyder's Men's Store in Portland, where he was mentored by his lifelong friend, Maury Drees.
Work and providing for his family was a central theme in his life, but he found friendship, recreation and productive outlets at The Boys Club on Cumberland Avenue. He was shaped by the strong work ethic from his family, business acumen from Maury, and sense of community from The Boys Club.
He married the former Helen Grindel in 1955, and raised their four children in South Portland.
In 1972, Sam and Helen, along with their children, embarked on a new business venture opening DiPietro's Market in South Portland -- even today a landmark on Cottage Road. Soon after, Sam worked to co-found The Boys and Girls Club in South Portland, which was among Sam's proudest achievements. Ever civic-minded, this was Sam's opportunity to provide for South Portland the same opportunities he experienced as a boy.
A lifelong Democrat, he became interested in politics, campaigning on the local and national level for others and then eventually holding office himself. He served as a city councilor for nine years, was mayor of South Portland in 1982 and 1983, and then served in the State Legislature for four terms from 1989 to 1996.
Sam loved the links, enjoying the camaraderie of his golf buddies, some of whom turned into his Wednesday night poker group: Joe, Charlie, Ricky, Ray and Ed. He was a past member of Willowdale, Riverside and Purpoodock Golf Clubs, and a past member of the Portland Country Club, Italian Heritage Center and of course, a proud lifelong member of the Boys and Girls Clubs.
Many will remember conversa-tions with Sam in the back of the store about politics, family, work, sports, and bits of Sam wisdom, always punctuated by his ever-present cigar, a trademark. His greatest joy was being surrounded by his wife and family, sharing meals, stories, music, laughter and love. He will be dearly missed.
He was predeceased by his parents, his brothers Carmine and Joseph, and son-in-law Timothy Salce.
He is survived by his wife Helen; son Michael and his wife Jane, of Cape Elizabeth; daughters, Jean Salce, and Susan and her husband Robert Green, of South Portland; son Sam, of South Portland; and "like a son," Anthony Berlucci and his wife Chelsea, of Rye, N.H.; grandchildren, Lucia and Isabella DiPietro-Green, Gabriella and Anthony Salce, and Mary DiPietro; great-grandchildren, Mickey and Brooklyn Green; and cherished sister Joanne and her husband Robert Soucy, of South Portland.
Family and friends are invited to attend a time of visitation Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016, from 4-8 p.m. at Jones, Rich & Hutchins Funeral Home, 199 Woodford St., Portland. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Friday, Oct. 14, 2106, at 11 a.m. at St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church, 72 Federal St., Portland. Interment will be private. For further information and to send a tribute in Sam's memory, please visit: www.jonesrichandhutchins.com.
If so desired, contributions may be made in Sam's memory to the
Boys & Girls Club
South Portland, ME 04106