John S ParisJune 7, 1924 ~ February 5, 2017 (age 92)
Falmouth - John Salvatore Paris, 92 of Standish passed away on Sunday, February 05, 2017 at Sedgewood Commons, Falmouth ME with his family by his side. He was born on June 7, 1924 in Portland, the son of Italian immigrants, Luigi and Grazia Antidorme Paris He attended Portland’s North School during his elementary grades and he was proud to say that at a very young age he met the girl who would become his wife. They were
given the role of Mary and Joseph in the Christmas Pageant and that would begin a journey which ended in a marriage of 70 years.
He was raised in the “little Italy” neighborhood of Portland and served as an altar boy at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church. The faith he gained at an early age would serve him well especially when he needed it most on the battlefield during WWII. He graduated from Portland High School in 1943 and shortly thereafter at the young age of eighteen he enlisted into the U. S. Army and proudly served his country for three long years. He served in many campaigns during the war starting in Africa and ending in Germany. The battle that would forever haunt him was the Battle at Anzio. It is well known as one of the major battles of the war. He spent 67 days held up in the mountains of Italy fighting the Germans. He saw horrific carnage and was one of the few survivors of that memorable battle. A fitting expression used at Anzio and often spoken by Chaplain William Johnson, a Special Forces Veteran of the battle, to the survivors of the battle at Anzio went like this – “ surely all who survived the assault on Anzio will go to heaven since they have already served their time in hell”. Another quote from Geoffrey Perrett in There’s A War To Be Won – “ the men who fought in Italy had eventually conquered some of the worst terrain and the toughest defenses anywhere in World War
II. That deserves to be remembered when all else about the Italian campaign has been forgotten!” He initially served as a tank operator, radio controller, infantry man and even performed reconnaissance because of his ability to speak three languages, his native Italian, Spanish and German. He served on the 1st Armored Spearhead Division and the 81St Armored Cavalry Recon. He was a decorated veteran receiving the following recognitions, the Good Conduct Metal, the European African Medal Campaign ribbon with four Bronze Stars, the Army of Occupational Medal with German Clasp and the French Croix de Guerre Unit Citation and the Victory Medal.
The war would scar him emotionally for life, but following the war he returned to Portland to marry his sweetheart Elizabeth D’Agostino or “Betty” as most of their friends and family call her. Together they raised a family of five children, 11 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. Family meant everything to John and he was never happier than when he was surrounded by a houseful of family members and extended relatives. Even toward the end when his illness had progressed and he was weak and in pain, he came alive whenever he had a visit from one of his grandchildren or great grandchildren who fondly called him “Papa Paris”.
He started his professional career as an insurance agent for Prudential Insurance Co. and would eventually retire from the U. S. Postal Service having served in the
accounting department and as the Injury Compensation Manager.
John was proud of his Italian heritage and was a founding member of the
original Italian American Club on Pearl Street in Portland. As the club membership grew he was instrumental in the building of the Italian Heritage Center now located on Westland Avenue in Portland and served four terms as President. He was a lifetime member of the Italian Heritage Center and the Portland Boys & Girls Club, a member of St. Peter’s Holy Name Society, the Knights of Columbus, the Woodfords Club, the Portland Chapter of the BPOE, NARFE, and the American Legion.
He was predeceased by his parents, Luigi and Grazia Paris, an infant son Gerard Paris, his sister Pasqui Principi and most recently his great grandson Bellino “Lino” Ray Rizzotti. He is survived by his wife of 70 years Elizabeth D. Paris, his five children Joanne Bellino and her husband Francis, Lisa Paris Bird, Louis Paris and his partner Diane DeRoche, John P. Paris and his wife Gerhild, and Donna Paris Walsh. He is also survived by his eleven grandchildren and twelve great grandchildren along with his niece Rose Principi Nappi and two great nieces.
The family wishes to thank the staff and nurses at Sedgewood Commons, Beacon Hospice and Home Instead for their compassionate care during this most difficult time as well as other special caregivers who allowed him to remain at home for as long as it was possible right up until the three weeks prior to his death.
Friends and family are invited to visiting hours from 4-7 pm on Wednesday, February 8, 2017 at A.T. Hutchins Funeral and Cremation Services, 660 Brighton Ave, Portland. A mass of Christian burial will be celebrated on Thursday, February 9, 2017 at 10 am at St Peter’s Catholic Church, 72 Federal St, Portland. Interment with military honors will follow at Calvary Cemetery, South Portland. To share memories and condolences with the family, please go to www.athutchins.com.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in John’s Memory to:
The Italian Heritage Charitable Trust
40 Westland Avenue
Portland, ME 04102