Sarah Brichetto was considered the rock of her family, but her relatives also saw her as a happy-go-lucky woman.

“My grandmother absolutely loved to dance,” said her granddaughter Sarah Grassi.

At every family event, Mrs. Brichetto was always on the dance floor doing the jitterbug, Grassi said. On her 90th birthday, her sons helped her out of a wheelchair so she could dance.

A mother of six, grandmother of 18 and great-grandmother of 38, Mrs. Brichetto died Sunday at the age of 91. She was a lifelong resident of Portland.

Her granddaughter described her as a strong, inspirational woman. After living through the Great Depression and other hard times that affected her family, Mrs. Brichetto was “incredibly resourceful in making ends meet,” Grassi said.

Her grandson Peter “Sonny” Brichetto said the skills his grandmother learned in raising her family on a tight budget were skills that she passed on to her children and grandchildren.

“She showed you how to stretch a dollar and save,” he said.

In recent years, Grassi stayed with Mrs. Brichetto on Thursday and Friday nights. They spent many evenings playing games like Pokeno, a card game similar to Bingo.

Mrs. Brichetto was fond of a stuffed-animal collection that started with a stuffed cat named Daisy. Once her family saw how much she enjoyed the cat, they added creatures to the collection through gifts, her granddaughter said.

Throughout her life, Mrs. Brichetto enjoyed traveling. Her granddaughter remembers a trip they took together 30 years ago to visit Mrs. Brichetto’s son Paul in California. She also went to Florida, Paris and Italy.

“The trip she talked about the most would be the Italy trip,” her granddaughter said. “She just loved being in Italy, where her family came from.”

When Mrs. Brichetto’s husband, Peter, was alive, the couple spent a lot of time together. Grassi said her grandparents even went on deer hunting trips together.

On one trip, Grassi said, Mrs. Brichetto saw a deer shortly after her husband walked ahead of her. He returned to her when he heard gunshots and asked what she was shooting at. She replied, “the deer.”

“It was the first deer she ever shot,” her granddaughter said. “He did not believe she had shot the deer.”

Even as Mrs. Brichetto’s family grew, she was generous and thoughtful with everyone. Her grandson said she would give all of the grandchildren a $5 or $10 bill for Christmas.

“(She) was always incredibly thoughtful for the grandchildren. She always remembered them with a little something for the holidays,” Grassi said.

 

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at: [email protected]