WINDHAM — The family of Benjamin York Sr. expressed sadness Monday over the passing of a man they say worked hard his whole life for the good of his family.

Mr. York, who died Sunday at age 83, worked two jobs for many years to provide for his wife and four children.

He was a paper machine operator at S.D. Warren Paper Co. in Westbrook for nearly 47 years, retiring in 1991. For most of that time, he also was a laborer for R.J. Grondin & Sons in Gorham. He worked there for nearly 40 years and retired in 2009.

Mr. York, known as “Benny,” began working at age 16 because his father died at a young age, said Philip York Sr., the oldest of his four children. Philip York said his father rarely missed a day of work and typically cashed in his vacation time.

“Working is all he really knew,” his son said Monday. “He was a very good provider. He took very good care of his family. He might not have been there for our ball games, but he more than made up for it when he retired.”

Mr. York’s family described him as a generous, thoughtful and caring guy who put his family first. He visited his oldest son two or three times a week at his home in Casco. On Saturdays, the Yorks usually had coffee together, then went to the town dump.

On Sundays, he visited his other son, Benjamin York Jr. of Parsonsfield.

In recent years, Mr. York made the rounds on Sundays. He usually brought his children fresh vegetables in the summer and apples and cider in the fall.

Philip York said his father was his best friend.

“I’ll miss him coming here to visit,” he said tearfully. “He used to sit in my small-engine shop and talk to me while I was working. We spent so much time together. I took him to all of his appointments. I’m going to miss him, I know that.”

Mr. York was the husband of Shirley York. The couple recently celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary. His family said they had a good life together.

A few years ago, doctors discovered cancer in Mr. York’s larynx. He received radiation treatment to fight his cancer, and he beat it. But this spring, the cancer returned.

When Mr. York died Sunday, his sons and their wives were at his side.

“I was holding his arm,” his oldest son said. “We were sitting there, talking about the fun times we had, and I looked up and he wasn’t breathing.”

He passed the phone to his wife, Susan York, to finish the interview.

“I think hearing us talk about everything is finally what helped him be at peace,” she said.

 

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: [email protected]