James Fruzia, a longtime mail handler at the Portland post office who was active in the American Legion’s Harold T. Andrews Post 17, died Sunday at his home in Westbrook. He was 82.

Mr. Fruzia worked at the post office on Forest Avenue for more than 30 years. His son, Jason Fruzia of Waterbury, Conn., said he worked behind the scenes handling heavy sacks of mail. He would then place the sacks on conveyor belts by ZIP code to be distributed.

“He enjoyed it,” his son said. “He enjoyed the paycheck. It was a good steady paycheck. He had a lot of friends that worked there.”

Mr. Fruzia grew up in Portland and graduated from Portland High School. He went on to serve in the Air Force as a radar technician.

He was married to the late Alice Loring for about 34 years. The couple met on a double date that included her sister. At first, her sister was matched with Mr. Fruzia, but somewhere along the line the women switched dates. His son said his parents shared a great life together.

“They went out dancing a bunch and had a great time with family and friends,” he said.

The younger Fruzia said his father made time for him. He recalled his father teaching him how to play baseball, and shooting hockey pucks at him in the goal to help him practice.

“He was a great dad,” his son said. “He taught me a lot. He taught me how to be a man and properly take care of people and do the right thing.”

Mr. Fruzia was an active member of the Harold T. Andrews Post 17. He was also a member of the Portland Elks Lodge.

Mr. Fruzia was known by many as “Fuzzy.” He was remembered by his son Monday as a hardworking guy who had a great sense of humor and a “very good heart.”

“He would do anything he could for anyone,” his son said. “If someone needed a hand moving or painting, he would jump right in.”

Mr. Fruzia retired around the mid-1980s to take care of his wife, who died in 2000.

He was diagnosed with multiple myeloma about eight years ago, then Alzheimer’s disease four years later.

“I’ll miss his smile and his laugh,” his son said. “He had a crooked smile. His laugh was pretty contagious.”

Instead of flowers, his son is requesting that donations be made in his father’s memory to the Harold T. Andrews Post 17 in Portland, the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, or the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund.

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

[email protected]