John Hanlon Sr., a retired Portland firefighter and deputy for the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department, died on Friday. He was 82.

He was remembered this week as a dedicated fireman who devoted his life to family and serving the community he loved.

“He was an awesome man,” said his son Jim Hanlon of Westbrook. “He was always there for us when we needed help. He gave us a lot of guidance and taught us a hard-work ethic.”

Mr. Hanlon graduated from Portland High School, then joined the Marine Corps. He served during the Korean War. He later became a Portland firefighter and worked out of Central Station, Ocean Avenue Station, Allen Avenue Station and Forest Avenue Station. He retired in 1982.

His son said Tuesday that he loved being a firefighter.

“It was his way of giving back to the community,” he said.

Throughout his career as a fireman, Mr. Hanlon also worked for the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department. For several years, he was a guard at the Portland jail. Near the end of his career, he became a court officer. He retired from the sheriff’s office soon after retiring from the fire department. A heart attack ended his career, his son said.

He was the husband of Mary Jane Hanlon, his wife for 63 years. The couple lived in Portland and raised eight children – seven sons and a daughter. One son, Harry Hanlon, died as an infant.

Mr. Hanlon was remembered by his sons Tuesday as a hard-working man who worked two to four jobs to provide for his family. He joined the National Guard and served for 10 or 12 years to earn extra money. He also worked as self-employed painter and for Brinks, the armored car company.

“His goal was to provide for his family the best he could,” Jim Hanlon said. “I’m thankful for it. We had things that some of the kids in the neighborhood didn’t have. We also had a mom and dad to go home to.”

The couple’s life together was marked by family gatherings, day trips to Sebago Lake and boating in Casco Bay.

Jim Hanlon noted the years his parents opened their home to family and friends who needed a place to stay.

“When we were teenagers, he was always picking up strays,” he said. “He was always taking care of people.”

Another son, Ronnie Hanlon of South Portland, said his parents emphasized the importance of family.

“They had a good life. They were madly in love with one another until now,” Ronnie Hanlon said.

Mr. Hanlon was a longtime member of the American Legion and the AMVETS. He was past commander of the VFW Deering Memorial Post No. 6859. He was also a past worthy president of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, Casco Aerie No. 565 in Portland. He was a member of the Eagles for than 40 years. When he served as commander and president of the organizations, his wife was president of the ladies auxiliary.

“They did the same things,” Jim Hanlon said. “My father loved his family time.”

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