Jack Darling

John “Jack” Darling, president and longtime owner of Maine Roofing Inc. in South Portland, died Saturday after battling lung cancer. He was 82.

Mr. Darling and his brother William Darling Sr. founded Maine Roofing in 1974. All they had was an old pickup truck and $1,000 to their name. Today, the business has grown to 24 employees, who provide commercial roofing and sheet metal services throughout Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

Mr. Darling worked in its metal shop throughout his career, creating high-end sheet metal, custom copper and stainless steel fabrication work. His work can be seen in office buildings, schools and hospitals throughout southern Maine. The company’s website promotes 20 finished projects, including the W.L. Blake & Co. building on Commercial Street in Portland, the Portland Public Library, Residence Inn at Marriott, and Fore River Medical Pavilion in Portland.

Mr. Darling was remembered by his family Tuesday as a quiet, hardworking man who took pride in his work.

“He loved the solitude of working in the shop – bending, breaking and cutting,” said Liz Darling, his niece and business manager at Maine Roofing. “He liked working with his hands. He was an extremely hard worker.”

Mr. Darling had a hand in building Maine Roofing’s offices on Bishop Street in South Portland. He had help from his nephew Bill Darling, the current owner of the company, and many of his staff.

“It was a huge undertaking,” Liz Darling said. “He was very proud of the building we built. He’s going to be well missed. He left a legacy at Maine Roofing and will live on through his work.”

Mr. Darling had immense pride in his business and family. He grew up in South Portland, the oldest of 12 children. At age 17, he joined the Navy and became an accomplished nuclear-certified welder. His obituary, which is published in Wednesday’s newspaper, says he was recognized by the Navy for his work on the USS Nautilus, which was the first nuclear submarine to complete a submerged transit of the North Pole under the polar ice caps.

He served in the Navy for 11 years before returning to South Portland to work on offshore scallop draggers. He worked at James McBrady Roofing before starting his own business.

A few years ago, Mr. Darling semi-retired and bought a property in Florida where he spent winters.

In his retirement, he loved to go striper fishing and tend to his gardens in Florida. He had several vegetable gardens and fruit trees.

His niece said he loved being with his dachshunds, Millie and Mickey.

Mr. Darling lived in Woolwich with his son Chad and daughter-in-law Cheryl Thompson. He also leaves five stepchildren.

About a year ago, he was diagnosed with lung cancer.

“He fought to the very end,” his niece said. “He was a fighter, I’ll tell ya.”

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

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