PORTLAND — Rose DeRice of Portland was always willing to try something new, even if it meant learning computer systems just a few years before she retired from Day’s Jewelers at the age of 72.

“She learned how to write her tickets” on the computer, said her daughter Gertrude DiFilippo. “She used to be amazed how she could punch (the tickets) in the computer in one room and they would come out where the printer was in the other room.”

Mrs. DeRice died Sunday. She was 93.

She was born in Portland, one of Luigi and Antoniette Vacchiano Tripaldi’s seven children. The Italian immigrants lived at the base of Munjoy Hill, an area that was called “Little Italy.”

Soon after graduating from Portland High School, Mrs. DeRice met and married Joseph DeRice. The couple moved to Federal Street, living in a three-family home across from St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church.

They lived in one unit with their three children, Gertrude, Marie and Louis, while Mrs. DeRice’s mother lived in another unit and the children’s aunt and uncle lived in the third unit.

“We were kind of one big happy family,” DiFilippo said.

Mrs. DeRice was described by her family as a “do-it-yourself” kind of woman. The home where they lived was 100 years old, and DiFilippo remembers her mother renting a sander to sand all of the floors, hanging wallpaper in the rooms and replacing old windowpanes.

“She wasn’t afraid” to try projects, her daughter said.

DiFilippo remembers a picture of herself in an outfit her mother crafted from an old coat.

“She said to me, ‘That was my coat. I took it apart and made you an outfit,’” DiFilippo said.

DiFilippo said her mother had a strong work ethic. While working at Day’s Jewelers, Mrs. DeRice kept inventory records of all of the merchandise that was sent from the Portland store to other locations.

During her 45-year career with the company, she was also trusted to mark Day’s most precious diamonds, according to her daughter.

Often, women she worked with organized gatherings, which Mrs. DeRice enjoyed attending.

“She was always called on to do the spaghetti and meatballs,” DiFilippo said.

“At a time when mothers stayed home, she was fully employed,” but DiFilippo and Marie DeRice agreed that she was the best mother in the world.

“She shaped me into who I became,” Marie DeRice said.

“She always encouraged us to do our best and give back,” DiFilippo said.


Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at: [email protected]