PORTLAND – Grace DiBiase was remembered by her sons Thursday as a strong, traditional Italian woman who was fiercely devoted to her family and loved cooking large Sunday dinners.

The menu was strictly Italian: spaghetti, manicotti, ravioli — anything Italian.

“I would wake up Sunday morning and smell the meatballs cooking,” said her son Danny DiBiase of Scarborough. “There was always food and always plenty of it. No one would go without, for sure. It was a great experience.”

Mrs. DiBiase died Wednesday at her home on Washington Avenue in Portland. She was 88.

She grew up in Portland, the youngest of 12 children, graduating from Portland High School in 1942.

She met her husband, Daniel DiBiase, at a dance at the Paul Mallia American Legion Post 16 in Portland. The couple would have celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary on Nov. 9. They raised three children.

Her sons Danny and Pasquale DiBiase drove around Portland on Thursday, making funeral arrangements and reminiscing about their mother.

Pasquale DiBiase remembered her as a loving and caring mother, who had a “little tough side to her.”

Danny DiBiase said she was compassionate and “had an incredible heart.”

“We used to have a squirrel in our yard without a tail. We had a stray cat in the neighborhood, who got beat up all the time. She loved that cat. She always put food out for the birds,” he said.

She joined Fairchild Semiconductor in 1964 and worked on the production line. At one point, she worked as a secretary for the company, and finished her career as a fabricator in 1986.

“When she first went to work, she said it was like a holiday,” Pasquale DiBiase said. “She loved work. She absolutely loved it. It was new technology. It really excited her.”

Mrs. DiBiase enjoyed walking, going out to eat, and spending time with her family.

“She loved to cook, do the housekeeping, take care of us and take care of my father,” Pasquale DiBiase said. “Sunday was the big day. She enjoyed cooking and seeing us all there.”

She had close relationships with her nieces and nephews, especially David Pirone of Portland, who “had a special place in my mother’s heart,” Danny DiBiase said. “She was very good to him and he was very good to her,” he said.

She was diagnosed with multiple myeloma a couple of years ago. About a month ago, her treatment stopped working. She spent her final days at home with her husband and sons, including Jack DiBiase, who lives on the first floor in his parents’ building.

“My father said she had a gleam in her eye before she passed away,” Danny DiBiase said. “She loved her sons and her husband. She was a great mom. We were very close. She liked to sit and have her cup of coffee with me.”

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

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