WINDHAM – Ralph J. Salamone, a retired general foreman for the Portland Water District who had a passion for family and the outdoors, died Saturday after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 88.

Mr. Salamone joined the water district in 1951 as a construction laborer. He was promoted to foreman in 1958 and to general foreman in 1972. He led crews that installed water mains throughout the Greater Portland area. His daughter, Susan Salamone of Windham, said he was respected for his work ethic. He retired in 1986.

Though his work was important to him, nothing surpassed his love for family. He was a loving husband to his wife, Evelyn Salamone, for 66 years and a dedicated father to his three children.

His daughter described a man who worked hard his whole life and made many sacrifices for his family.

“This man would work 18 hours and come home and take us fishing,” his daughter recalled. “I never, ever in my whole life heard him say, ‘No, I’m too tired.’ He put his heart and soul into doing for others.”

Mr. Salamone’s willingness to help others stemmed from his years growing up in Portland’s Little Italy neighborhood, she said. He was one of 11 children, according to his obituary published in Tuesday’s newspaper. His parents died when he was young, but his brothers and sisters stuck together

He graduated from Portland High School in 1942 and enlisted in the Navy. He was a gunner’s mate on the USS Tisdale in the South Pacific during World War II.

When he was discharged, he got a job working at the A&P Supermarket. There, he met his wife. They were married in November of 1946 and bought a home on Munjoy Hill, where they raised their children.

On Monday, his daughter reminisced about the summers they spent at their camp on Sebago Lake. She said her father enjoyed boating, fishing, water skiing and being with family.

“It was so exciting as a kid,” she said. “We spent our entire day in the water. He would come home from work and take us water skiing. We were out there ’til the sun went down.”

Winters at the camp were just as memorable. Mr. Salamone would pull his children in a toboggan to the camp to shovel its roof and clear a section of snow from the lake so they could go ice skating.

“We would ice skate all day long,” his daughter said. “(Family) was his life. It’s what made him the person he was.”

For 15 years after he retired, Mr. Salamone worked with his son, Stephen Salamone, and grandson Travis McManus lobstering on Casco Bay.

Mr. Salamone also had a great passion for hunting.

His daughter noted a memorable trip to a camp in Greenville with her father and other family members to hunt for moose.

“We had the best time,” she said. “We saw moose, bear, deer and wildlife galore. It was just spectacular. We were in the Maine woods together. We joked all the time. He had a great sense of humor.”

About seven years ago, Mr. Salamone was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. His daughter said he fought to live until the end.

“Poor guy, I spent the last four weeks by his bedside,” she said. “He was truly a saint. I never heard him complain, he was incredible always a smile on his face.”

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

mcreamer@mainetoday.com