WESTBROOK- Anthony DiBiase Sr. was a well-respected Portland businessman, who owned and operated an auto body shop on Warren Avenue for many years and at one time was responsible for fixing the city’s vehicles.

Though he had a long and successful career, nothing made him feel better than being with his family and taking care of his friends.

“He was the most amazing person I’ve ever met,” said Matthew DiBiase, the youngest of his four children. “He was the most caring person you would ever meet. It didn’t matter if you were related to him — he treated everyone like family. He did more things for people… His enjoyment was taking care of people.”

Mr. DiBiase, known by everyone as “Andy” and who owned and operated the popular Andy’s Body Shop in Portland for about 40 years, died on Sunday. He was 84.

Mr. DiBiase made every cinder block used to build the garage, which was located across the street from the home he lived in for 73 years. His son said he ran a successful business, had a solid reputation in the community and worked on Portland’s city vehicles for many years.

His son said he also often gave breaks to people who couldn’t afford it.

“He loved taking things apart, fixing it, and putting it back together,” his son said. “He was one of those old-school men that back in the day, needed to know things like that to get by in life. People aren’t like that anymore.”

Around 1986, he closed the business and built Small World Day Care Center, which was operated by his wife, Stella DiBiase, of Westbrook.

He was married to Stella for 47 years. His son said Wednesday that his parents were happy and devoted to each other. He noted that in the past few months his father repeatedly told his mother how much he loved her.

“He loved my mother so much,” he said. “She was his best friend.”

One of the highlights of his life was traveling to Italy in 2008 with his son, Matthew DiBiase; his brother, Dominic DiBiase; and his nephew, Dana DiBiase. There, he happened to meet three cousins and other relatives. He traveled back a second to Italy a second time in 2010.

“His dream was always to go to Italy,” his son said. “He wanted to walk the streets that his parents walked. He wanted to see where they came from. Within 45 minutes, he met his first cousin. It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. I was so glad to be a part of that.”

About 10 years ago, Mr. DiBiase and his wife moved to Central Street in Westbrook. They lived on the first floor of his son’s house.

“I told my parents as a young boy that I would take care of them, just as my father took care of his parents,” his son said.

“All I ever wanted was to be like my father. I’ll miss hearing his voice and hearing him laugh. I’ll miss the way he looked at my son and called him, “my little pal.” It’s tough. (He loved) all of his grandkids. Even at his sickest times, he got the will to look at them and smile.”

 

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

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