Elizabeth Paris, 93, of Portland passed away on Saturday, December 22, 2018 at the Gosnell House with her loving family by her side.
Betty, as she liked to be called was born on April 19, 1925 in Portland, the daughter of Italian immigrants, Giacinto and Philomena Pecce D’Agostino. She attended Grammar School at the North School where she was so proud to receive the Good Citizenship Award especially as a young Italian immigrant. It was at North School that she met her sweetheart, John S. Paris, when they were both chosen to participate in the annual Christmas Pageant. She was given the role of the Virgin Mary and he was St. Joseph and that innocent encounter began a friendship that culminated in a seventy year marriage until John’s passing in 2017.
She was a graduate of the Class of 1943 from Portland High School and was a recipient of the prestigious Brown Medal for Scholastic Achievement. She worked during high school at Hannaford Brothers and was offered a Hannaford full scholarship to go to college, but as the daughter of a struggling immigrant family she was needed at home to continue to work and provide additional income for her family. This was always a great disappointment for her not to be able to pursue her education. She also worked for Maine Bonding and Casualty Company.
On May 26, 1946 she married her sweetheart after John’s return from serving in World War II. Betty was a devoted wife and supported John with his struggles following the war.
Betty and John raised a family of five children, 11 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren. Family meant everything to Betty and she was never happier than when she was surrounded by a houseful of family and extended relatives but especially when holding one of her grandchildren or great grandchildren. When Betty felt her time on this earth was nearing the end she knew she had one last very important thing to do and that was to hold the newest member of the family who was arriving from Vancouver, BC with her parents to spend Christmas in Maine. Betty did get to hold baby Francesca and although she was semi-conscious at the time, when Francesca was placed in her arms at her bedside, Betty opened one eye and tenderly reached to touch baby Francesca’s small hand. Her final wish came true and a life was now complete.
She was an avid bowler in her younger years and was also quite the competitive bocce player with family and friends. She and her daughters began an annual “girls trip” to Foxwood Casino 20 years ago and although that distance became too great for her to travel she was just talking this week about taking a short trip up to the Oxford Casino “for just an hour”. It wasn’t gambling she liked so much it was the camaraderie of being with her “girls” and sharing many a laugh, and Oh What stories always hailed from a girls trip! She always said how lucky she was that her girls wanted to spend time with her.
Betty was a lifetime member of the Italian Heritage Center and served as secretary on the Board of Directors. Betty also served for 50 years on the Portland High School Class of 1943 Reunion Committee.
Her grandchildren fondly remember their “Nano” teaching them to play cards, babysitting for them, spoiling them, and her delicious Italian cooking. Some of the grandkids fought over which one was “Nano’s” favorite. She loved them all equally and her love was without bounds.
She was predeceased by her husband of 70 years John Paris, her sisters Teresa (Libro) Feroci, Amelia (Paul) DiBiase, brothers Louis and Frank and her infant son, Gerard and her great-grandson “Lino”.
She is survived by her five children, Joanne Bellino and her husband Francis, Lisa Paris Bird, Louis Paris and his partner Diane De Roche, John P. Paris and his wife Gerhild, and Donna Paris Walsh. She is also survived by her 11 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. She is also survived by several nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews.
The family wishes to thank the staff at Clarks Terrace at Park Danforth for the amazing care, love, and support they shared each day with her as well as the nursing staff at Gosnell Hospice House for their remarkable compassionate care during the last two days of Betty’s life.
In addition, they wish to acknowledge the exceptional care given to Betty by her primary care physician, Dr. Danyelle Tierney, and the warm, comfortable, friendly bond they developed.
In remembrance of Betty, the family suggests a donation to your favorite charity in her memory.
Visiting Hours will be held on Thursday, December 27, 2018 from 4 to 7 PM at A.T. Hutchins Funeral Home 660 Brighton Ave. A funeral Mass will be held at 10:00 AM on Friday, December 28, 2018 at St. Peters Catholic Church, 72 Federal Street, Portland. Burial will follow in Old Calvary Cemetery in South Portland.