Vincent “Vinny” A. DiFillipo Sr., who rose up the ranks at the Portland Fire Department and retired as deputy chief in 2010, died on Dec. 22. He was 63.

He was devoted to the Fire Department, his family and his friends, said his wife, Joyce DiFillipo.

“If you had him as a friend, you had him forever,” she said. “He was somebody you could count on no matter what.”

Mr. DiFillipo grew up in a large Italian-American family on Rudman Road in Portland. It was clear at an early age that he would grow up to be a fireman, said his older sister, Marta Voci of Plymouth, Massachusetts.

She said her brother was a big-hearted man who laughed easily, loved his family and had a large and devoted circle of friends.

“He was someone you could always count on,” she said. “Anybody who had him as a friend was a lucky person.”

Mr. DiFillipo attended Deering High School, where he was a running back and utility player for the Deering Rams. As an adult, he refereed high school football games in the Class A division and also college games in New England.

At Deering High School, he dated Joyce DiBiase, who was two years younger. They married after she graduated. They were married for 43 years and had two children, Danielle DiFillipo and Jimmy “Vinny” DiFillipo Jr., who is a Portland firefighter.

Joyce DiFillipo said her husband was an exuberant, fun-loving man who was known for his “devilish smirk.”

She said he was devoted to the people around him and to the community.

“He was a mentor to so many people, ” she said. “He touched a lot of lives.”

Visitation will be Monday from 4 to 7 p.m. at Jones, Rich & Hutchins Funeral Home, 199 Woodford St. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, Federal Street, Portland.