Mary Profenno was a devoted wife and mother who stood by her husband, Peter Profenno, as he operated Profenno’s Pizzeria & Pub in Westbrook for the past 53 years.

While he was the face of the iconic restaurant, it was Mary Profenno who led the charge behind the scenes. She died of an apparent heart attack on Saturday at their home in Portland. She was 78.

The restaurant has been a fixture on Main Street in Westbrook since 1962. Peter Profenno, who was cooking at his restaurant on Wednesday, still oversees its day-to-day operation. She oversaw the business loans and other finances.

“They were a good team, absolutely,” said Michael Profenno, of Wakefield, Massachusetts, the oldest of their three sons. “Mom showed great patience in letting dad have the latitude he needed to run the restaurant. It’s a sacrifice. My father is quite a remarkable man himself in being able to run the business all these years. We know that’s not an easy accomplishment.”

Mrs. Profenno and her husband were married for 58 years. The couple first lived on Pineloch Drive in Portland’s North Deering neighborhood, where they raised three sons. Around 1975, the family moved to Christy Road, where they lived at the time of her passing.

While he was at work, Mrs. Profenno stayed home to raise their children. She was remembered by family and friends this week as a strong, patient and compassionate woman, who brought so much joy to people’s lives.

Her son reminisced about their early years Wednesday, recalling stories of kids flocking to their house to play in the basement. He shared memories of piling into their old station wagon for trips to the beach and movies. He even remembered the street fair they organized to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. She, of course, helped.

“She was a big reason why we were able to pull that off,” her son said. “She was the guiding force without question.”

Mrs. Profenno attended all of her sons sports games and school activities. Her son said she dedicated her life to them and family.

“We kept her busy,” he said, laughing. “Mom was a big encouragement in terms of making sure we were able to partake in those activities. …I am the guy I am today because of mom, without question. She encouraged us to do our best. It was wonderful to make mom proud. Trust me.”

Mrs. Profenno seemed to be the force that brought the whole family together. On Sundays, Peter Profenno would close the restaurant to be with family. Her son shared stories about large Italian dinners with aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews and cousins, etc.

“We would eat in shifts,” he said. “The kids went first, followed by the men and women. We don’t do that today. It was an old generational thing.”

Mrs. Profenno is also survived by her son, Daniel Profenno, of Portland; his former wife, Jessica Bell and their son, Lucas Profenno; and Bell’s son, Justin Griffin. She also leaves another son, Paul Profenno, of Wells; and his former partner, Lise Cote and her son, Dustin Cote.

Danny Profenno shared similar stories on Thursday of his mother’s selfless devotion to others. He choked up recalling memories of Sunday dinners and his weekly visits with her. He also spoke about his mother’s closeness with his 15 year-old son, Lucas Profenno, saying he meant the world to her.

“She loved Lucas a lot and was so proud of all his accomplishments,” Danny Profenno said. “She attended all his music concerts and sporting events. She was always there. She did the same for us and carried it on with Lucas. …I’ll miss having her here and knowing that she’s home. I could always go to her. I could tell her anything. I have a lot of memories of her that will carry me through.”

Paul Profenno, who has worked with his father since 1991, also noted his mother’s support and encouragement during his years playing sports.

“I remember her always being at my ball games,” Paul Profenno said. “They would travel to watch to me play. We would go out to eat after. It was a lot of fun.”

Mrs. Profenno was an active member of CURVES, where she regularly attended a 6 a.m. class. She and her husband also enjoyed going to the movies and to different restaurants.

She enjoyed working in her garden. Every year, she planted flowers outside her house and grew vegetables in round wooden barrel planters.

Mrs. Profenno had a heart condition. Last summer, she had open heart surgery to repair two of her valves. She recovered and was currently attending a cardiac rehab program in Scarborough. It appears she suffered a massive heart attack at their home on Saturday. She had talked to her husband about 20 minutes before she died. He was on his way home with a coffee for her.

“We thought we had a couple more good years, but obviously God had another plan,” her son said. “She was a remarkable woman, who touched many lives and I’m so grateful for her.”