PORTLAND — At this time of year, George DiPaolo would be getting ready to plant his flowers.

“He was an avid flower lover,” said his wife, Patricia DiPaolo. “All flowers were his favorite.”

Each spring, he would plant vegetables in five-gallon buckets at their home, and plant flowers to put in front of their store on Forest Avenue, Papa’s Place. He planted gladioluses for his sister Debbie and tulips for his father. One year, he grew sunflowers for his wife’s uncle.

“Georgie liked sunflowers. On the side of the building here, you should have seen the sunflowers. There must have been 60 growing for my uncle,” his wife said.

Mr. DiPaolo died Wednesday. He was 62.

He was born and raised in Portland. He and Patricia DiPaolo were a couple in high school.

When they settled down, they had a chance to buy a store, in Westbrook or near their home in Portland.

“This one (on Forest Avenue) was closer to the house,” she said. “It’s a different kind of store.”

Along with her sister and brother-in-law, they bought that business and established Papa’s Place, a convenience store where they sold food.

Mr. DiPaolo and his wife later became the sole proprietors of the store, which was well known and well liked, she said.

“(It) has been a big part of our lives,” she said.

A group of regular breakfast customers ordered flowers for Mr. DiPaolo’s funeral with a banner reading “The Boy’s Breakfast Club,” she said.

On Tuesday, after Mr. DiPaolo’s 10 a.m. service at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church and interment in Calvary Cemetery, the family plans to return to the store. “We want to have the celebration of George,” his wife said.

While Mr. DiPaolo’s health declined over the past few years, his wife did most of the work at the store. When his health was better, she said, they had a lot of fun.

“Saturdays in the winter, we’d pick out something to cook for that day,” she said.

She remembers, one time, making spaghetti with her husband, hanging strands of pasta all over the store. “That’s how they used to do it,” she said.

Mr. DiPaolo had a knack for starting projects, which his wife inevitably helped with or took over.

“The time he made maple syrup, he had us tapping all the trees around the neighborhood,” she said.

The final product was bottled and distributed to the neighbors whose trees they had tapped.

As part of his love of gardening, Mr. DiPaolo grew vines for Concord grapes. He once decided to use those grapes to make wine, his wife said.

“It came out perfect,” she said. “These were the things my husband did. All these little things.”

 

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

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