SACO – Steven Gregory Earley, 69, adored Hunny-Bunny, beloved Pops, loving Papa, favorite uncle and Godfather, cherished brother, trusted friend, & kind-hearted man gave us his final “10-4” on Sept. 22, 2021. Many are those who will miss his love, compassion, integrity, and generosity. He’s now competing with Ma Earley for ‘who makes the best meatballs’ in heaven. If you love garlic - you’d like his best. :))
Steven was born on Easter Sunday April 13, 1952, in Chicago, IL to George F. and Mary C. Earley. They moved back to Portland with two of his three siblings when he was 2 years old. The Earley home at #12 Winthrop St was the family hub for many years. Everyone was always welcome, and knew they’d be well-fed. Abundant love and laughter filled the Earley home with each new family member’s arrival. Boisterous Italian traditions and a full table of home-cooked foods were a given every Sunday. The only competition was when the New York Giants were playing football - he never missed a game.
He was a proud father of two sons; he and Linda Frith raised them in the Portland area. He was a devoted Dad who urged the boys that “neatness counts” and love of family is enduring thru life’s many twists and turns. Higgins Beach became a favorite spot when he started taking the boys there even though he disliked the cold Atlantic water. He was an amazing cook who always prepared too much food - “you never know who might stop by”. Every visitor to their home went straight to the fridge to see what leftovers could be had. Roast pork dinners on a football Sunday were always delicious, and his seafood chowder could have won awards. All store-bought pizzas had to be ‘doctored up’; by the time he was done there was a mountain of toppings - he rivaled Pizza Joint!
His public service work often required juggling his home life, but he never missed a birthday or Holiday. His parents and siblings provided safe haven for the boys during long storms & clean-up efforts, and his workplace was like their second home. The boys would be entertained by the crews while Steve got tasks lined up and took on the ever-present challenges of serving all of Portland’s residents and visitors.
Steve started his career in public service with the Portland Fire Department. After being electrocuted during a fire on Danforth St. he decided to seek a safer position. That led him to the Department of Public Works where he began a 36 year career. He sought out promotional opportunities and worked his way up the ladder, also taking on the challenges of representing Union employees. His knack for problem-solving and conflict resolution led him to become the DPW Operations Manager; he was highly respected by all who worked with and for him.
He had a true gift of understanding others’ points of view and was a natural leader. We often joked that his door should have been a revolving one - countless employees came through to vent, complain, and throw challenge flags at him. Every single person who came through his door was listened to and respected. He never took anything personally, fought fiercely for what was right, and mentored many co-workers.
All the DPW Directors and City Managers he worked for admired his keen sense of how to build & keep employee morale, and relished the debates on declaring parking bans and budgeting for each upcoming winter. Mother Nature threw out plenty of challenges, but every Director (Finance included!) understood he knew what he was doing. He initially retired as Operations Manager and shortly after that was recruited to step back into the DPW management team. He knew the city and islands like the back of his hand; the public was always well-served by his good nature and ability to manage conflicts.
Our home in West Falmouth was always open to family & friends. Many Thanksgivings, weddings & receptions, birthdays, Christmases, and football games filled the house with love and LOTS of great food. Our extra bedrooms always seemed to be in use - even the basement rec room was full once for a family wedding! The 2008 NY Giants Superbowl victory over the Patriots was a fond memory - we got a congratulatory phone call from his favorite niece & nephew-in-law who were on a cruise at the time with “19-0” shirts, and our wonderful neighbors on Rockaway Rd came up to celebrate - I think they could hear us cheering from 1000 yards away!
Steve was a consummate family man who doted on his boys and never strayed from their side. Until they were older he hadn’t explored the world beyond the Northeast. Once he traveled to St. John USVI he was bitten by the travel bug. He enjoyed many adventures in the Caribbean, Europe, Ireland, and along the East Coast. Highlights were St. John, Savannah, Mexico (“I’m not done yet!”), Antigua, Lettomanoppello (Italy), and a 2012 Mediterranean cruise with family and close friends.
After enduring too many Maine winters, Steve & Kathi moved to Babcock Ranch Florida and acquired a ‘summer place’ in Saco. Maine was always home, and we were fortunate to be home this summer. He fought bravely through serious health challenges; always working to ‘be there’ for his wife and family. He was surrounded by loved ones when he decided to get off the roller-coaster during the start of an extremely harsh second chemo regimen. His spirit now fills our hearts as we all miss him desperately. He certainly made the most of his “dash” between the years and is remembered fondly by family & friends.
Steven is survived and dearly missed by the love of his life Kathi Earley; his pride and joy, sons Steven Earley (Berwick) and Scott & Amie Earley (Windham); his precious grandkids Damon, Sophie, Beckham, and Vivienne; his exceptionally close and one and only niece Jenn & Raymond “Bud” Hemingway (Naples FL and Raymond ME); brother George and Katie Earley (Portland); sister Sandra and Scott Ouillette (South Portland); brother Anthony Earley (Portland); numerous nieces & nephews, and his rescue dog Tuckeroo.
A Celebration of Life will be held October 7th, 2021 at Bruno’s in Portland from 4 - 8pm. Please bring your good cheer, great memories, and masks.
In lieu of flowers - please consider donating to your local Big Brother/Big Sister, Center for Grieving Children, or Make-A-Wish organizations. Also watch the online obituary site; family will be setting up a donation link for a bench overlooking his beloved city of Portland.