FREEPORT – Michael A. Cardamone, a retired cook at the Maine Correctional Center in South Windham and former owner of a popular restaurant in Westbrook, died Friday. He was 85.

His family remembered Mr. Cardamone on Sunday as an honest and hard-working man, who was always there for his family.

His son, Michael S. Cardamone of Hollis, worked with his father at the correctional center. He said he had a good rapport with the prisoners and became a godparent to many children whose parents were incarcerated.

“He had a nice way with the prisoners there,” his son said. “He was a good role model to those guys. To this day, when I see some of them, they ask about my dad.”

Mr. Cardamone was the head cook at the correctional center. He worked there close to 35 years before retiring in the late 1980s. After retiring, he went back to work part-time to help with the transition. His son said he loved his work.

“He knew the food business inside and out,” his son said. “When it came to good service, he was very particular. For me personally, he was hard to work with. But, he taught me an awful lot about that place, like how to talk to people and deal with people.”

Mr. Cardamone grew up in Portland. He served in the Army in the European Theatre during World War II, and received a Purple Heart.

After the war, he joined his older brother Frank in the family business. The brothers ran Cardamone’s Restaurant, formerly located on Main Street in Westbrook.

His son said it was a magnet for celebrities like Rudy Vallee and Bette Davis, and for politicians running for office. It was also a place where mill workers flocked after work. He sold the business in 1962.

“It was a neighborhood bar, a gathering place,” his son said. “He was a good people person. People were drawn to him.”

Mr. Cardamone was married to his wife, Marie, for 64 years and raised five children.

His son said he was the rock in the family. He said his father was home every night after work.

“He was a very good father, probably the best,” his son said. “He was a good role model. I love the way he loved people. He had a balanced point of view. He always spoke from the heart and was honest with everyone.”

For Mr. Cardamone and his wife, family was most important. His son said his parents were inseparable.

“He was always there for my mom and my mom had his back,” his son said. “They truly were devoted to each other.”

 

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

[email protected]