February 4, 2013

Feature obituary: John Stanhope Sr., 92, policeman, Marine, loved to square dance

By Melanie Creamer mcreamer@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND – John Stanhope Sr., a longtime patrolman for the Portland Police Department who had a passion for square dancing and his family, died Saturday. He was 92.

click image to enlarge

John Stanhope Sr. and his wife of 53 years, Sarah Stanhope.

Family photo


Each day the newsroom selects one obituary and seeks to learn more about the life of a person who has lived and worked in Maine. We look for a person who has made a mark on the community or the person's family and friends in lasting ways.

Mr. Stanhope joined the Portland department in 1950 as a police officer. He was assigned to Portland's waterfront and the Old Port for about 20 years. He was doing parking enforcement and writing tickets on Congress Street when he finished his career around 1974.

His son, Dr. John Stanhope Jr., a well-known family doctor in Portland, said his father enjoyed being a police officer and serving the community.

"He enjoyed it, but he was happy to retire," his son said.

Mr. Stanhope was remembered Monday by his family as a strong, stoic and hard-working guy who rose above many hardships and provided a great life for his family.

He was one of 16 children born to Irish immigrants, and only nine of his siblings survived into adulthood. They lived in Northern Ireland before settling in Maine. Mr. Stanhope grew up on Munjoy Hill.

The family struggled through the Great Depression in the 1930s. Mr. Stanhope's obituary notes how he would help gather driftwood from Portland's East End Beach and coal from the railroad tracks to help heat the family's home on Adams Street.

In his early years, Mr. Stanhope took odd jobs, such as delivering newspapers, loading freight cars for $3 a day, and baking bread for Army troops on Great Diamond Island. At the start of World War II, he joined the Marines.

He was a loving husband to Sarah Stanhope for 53 years. It was a second marriage for both. He is survived by his son and his wife's two children.

Dr. Stanhope talked openly Monday about his younger years growing up in Portland. He said his father had a steady and strong influence at home.

"It was a very loving and peaceful household," he said. "He was a very stoic and kind guy. He never laid a hand on me in my entire life, but he was tough when he had to be."

Mr. Stanhope had a love for Irish music and Broadway musicals. He would often sing or hum songs when doing chores or projects around his house.

He and his wife also had a passion for square dancing. The couple participated in dancing events throughout the state and New England. "They loved it," his son said.

In recent years, Mr. Stanhope's health had steadily declined. His son said his body just gave out.

"I'm happy for him that he is gone," his son said. "He was very much at peace. He was ready. My mother was ready. His main concern was that she was taken care of."


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



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