Navy 04

John William DeCoste

February 29, 1932 ~ January 3, 2022 (age 89)


Portland-John William DeCoste, Commander NOAA retired, 89, died January 3, 2022 the anniversary of his father’s death in 1975. John was born February 29, 1932, the son of James B and Martha Kane DeCoste. As a leap year baby, his picture appeared the next day in the newspaper, in the arms of his Aunt Molly, a nurse.  He grew up in Deering Center at 502 Stevens Ave, in a house purchased by his Irish grandmother with winnings from the Irish Sweepstakes.  He was educated at St. Joseph’s School, Cheverus High School (1949) and the University of Ottawa (1953). After two years as an Army draftee, a brief career in Insurance and marriage in Denver, John joined the Navy, attending OCS in Newport, RI.  Service on destroyers took him and his family of four children to many parts of the east coast and to Naples, Italy.  His year in Viet Nam was as Advisor to a junk boat base in Tuy Hoa. The last of his 30 years in the military were in the commissioned corps of NOAA, on ships charting the coast of Alaska, plumbing the Mariana Trench, testing the waters of New York Harbor, and after shore duty in Miami he retired with the rank of Commander.  A visit to family in Portland led to reconnection with an old school friend, Barbara O’Connor Joyce, also divorced, and they married in 1985. Both loving travel they visited a different destination in Europe each year, mostly three weeks of independent adventures with a few tours thrown in.  In Martinique France, John found the baptism record of his Acadian ancestor, Francois Coste, who in 1791 emigrated to Nova Scotia.  He also visited Aughinish Island, Co Clare on Galway Bay, the home of his Kane ancestors.  He and Barbara enjoyed many US trips for weddings and visits to their far-flung blended family of eleven children. The 36 years of their marriage were lived to the fullest, rich with family and great friends. John, though quiet and humble, had a quick sly wit.  His intellect could rival any Jeopardy champion. Thoughtful and generous, his Catholic faith was central to his life.  He was beloved by those he leaves behind: his wife Barbara, sister Eleanor Scanlon, daughters Margaret Gaidowski Virginia Beach VA, Dianna Fresno CA, sons John Jr (“Jack”) (CharEl) Medford OR and Stephen (Stephanie) Orinda CA, 16 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.  Stepchildren, Michael Joyce Ellsworth, Maureen Simard Auburn, MaryEllen Joyce and Kathleen Serunian (Peter) Falmouth, Peggy Joyce, LaPaz Mexico, Theresa Lee (Nelson) Northborough MA and Daniel Joyce (Penny) Minneapolis MN, 12 step grandchildren and 3 step great grandchildren. He was predeceased by his brother Mark and grandson Prince White.

Due to Covid, funeral services will be delayed until spring. Contributions may be made to Good Shephard Food Bank, 3121 Hotel Road, Auburn, Maine 04210 or Our Lady of Hope Parish, 673 Stevens Avenue, Portland, Maine 04103.

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