A terminally ill man who was flown back to Maine in a private jet to spend his last weeks with his children has died.

Anthony Napoleone, 28, who had developed an incurable staph infection in his lower back after being injured in a fight in Kansas, died Wednesday at the Hospice of Southern Maine in Scarborough.

After he was injured, Napoleone’s family tried to raise money to pay for the flight home. In October, billionaire hedge fund manager S. Donald Sussman heard about Napoleone’s plight on the radio, and volunteered his private jet for the trip from Kansas.

Since then, Napoleone and his mother had been living at a home in Raymond where he spent weekends and the Christmas holiday with his two young sons and a stepdaughter.

“I can’t say enough about what they have done for us,” said Raylene Wright, Napoleone’s mother. “They are outstanding people and there aren’t too many of them around anymore.”

Wright was referring to Sussman and his fiancee, Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine.

Willy Ritch, Pingree’s spokesman, said that Sussman has agreed to cover the cost of flying Wright’s husband and three of Napoleone’s siblings back to Maine for his funeral. Though the arrangements have not been finalized, Wright said her son’s funeral will likely take place on Saturday.

Napoleone went to Kansas in 2008 to visit relatives and take some time to recover from his divorce.

At a party in July 2008, he saw his sister being beaten by her boyfriend. When Napoleone intervened, he was stabbed in the back. The tip of the knife lodged in his spine, paralyzing him from the rib cage down.

He later developed the infection. Doctors gave him weeks, possibly months, to live.

After learning about his plight, Sussman sent his jet with his pilot, co-pilot and a volunteer nurse to Salina, Kan. Napoleone was flown back to Maine in October.

Wright said Sussman’s generosity allowed her son to spend time with his two sons, 10-year-old Parish and 4-year-old Gage, as well as his stepdaughter, 2-year-old Nicole. He also has a stepson living in Maine, Gavin, 7.

“He was told he had weeks to live when we left Kansas. But, when he got to spend time with his children it prolonged his life,” his mother said.

Wright said her son never gave up. Until recently, he had been talking about buying a fishing boat and a snowmobile.

“He was still dreaming of the things that he could do,” his mother said.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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