Joseph Esposito Sr., an accomplished businessman who owned and operated six Radio Shack stores in Maine as well as two restaurants and numerous rental properties in the Portland area, died Friday. He was 84.

Mr. Esposito opened the state’s first Radio Shack store in Falmouth in late 1969. He went on to open five more locations across Maine, including one at the Maine Mall in South Portland. He ran the stores until the early 1990s, when he sold his North Windham location to two of his sons.

In those years, he also co-owned what is now Espo’s Trattoria, an Italian Restaurant on Congress Street in Portland. He also co-owned the former Marshview Restaurant in Scarborough.

Mr. Esposito was remembered by his family Monday as a self-made man who had a drive to succeed and was respected in business community for his honesty, integrity and work ethic. His son Joseph Esposito, of Cornish, said he was a hands-on owner and involved in the day-to-day operation of his businesses. He remembered his father working long days at a store, then driving to Massachusetts to pick up merchandise.

“He enjoyed the challenge,” his son said. “It’s something he always wanted to do. He just wanted to run his own business. It was his drive.”

Throughout the years, Mr. Esposito dabbled in many other businesses, including a deli, a gift shop, and buying and selling gold jewelry. His obituary, which appeared in Monday’s newspaper, said he was an original founder of Olympia Sports. He also had a passion for buying and selling real estate. At the time of his passing, he owned several rental properties.

The younger Esposito said his father was thoughtful and methodical when making decisions. He also gave back to the community, his son said.

He believed that “if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for everything,” his son recalled. “He made his decisions and he stood by them. Believe me, there were times of question. There was a lot of seeking input and talking and a lot of crossed fingers that things would work. He had that sense about him. When he made a decision, he did what he needed to make it work.”

Mr. Esposito, a longtime Portland resident, grew up on Munjoy Hill, the son of Italian immigrants. In his early years, he worked on the waterfront, tying nets and fishing with his father and brothers.

He graduated from Portland High School in 1947, and then briefly served in the Air Force.

He was a loving husband to Barbara Esposito for 58 years. Together, they raised five children. His wife said he was a good provider for the family. His son said he worked hard to balance his businesses with spending time with the family.

“He was definitely a man that loved his family,” his son said. “He stood behind his kids one hundred percent. Even though he might not have understood or agreed with what was going on, he did what he could to raise us correctly and to make good decisions. He was right there for us, right there to defend us to the hilt.”

In his later years, Mr. Esposito was a fixture in his children’s and grandchildren’s lives. His son said he enjoyed going to their games.

“As he was preparing to back out of the work environment, he was able to enjoy us and his grandchildren more,” his son said. “He was always there for everyone to offer advice, guidance and so forth.”

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

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