PORTLAND – Anthony “Tony” Discatio is at peace.

His family and friends will gather Sunday to mourn and honor Mr. Discatio, who died Wednesday after a 40-year battle with an eating disorder. He was 61.

Mr. Discatio worked at the family business, Joe’s Smoke Shop on Congress Street, on and off for the past four decades.

He began working at his father’s store when he was in high school. He worked his last shift about seven years ago.

His former wife, Jane Gardner of Windham, said he knew many of the customers by their first names and knew personal details about their lives.

“He loved being a part of the family business and talking to the customers,” Gardner said. “He was a wonderful guy. He was very outgoing and very personable.”

In 1984, Mr. Discatio opened City Center News at One City Center in Portland.

He ran the business for about five years.

Mr. Discatio’s family talked openly Friday about his struggle with bulimia and anorexia, mostly to raise awareness about the disorders.

Gardner said the family believes his eating disorder began when he was in his 20s and serving in the Coast Guard.

She said that a girl he was dating broke his heart, and he spent the next eight years battling his disorder, which nearly cost him his life.

“He almost died three times because his weight was so low,” Gardner said.

“I tried to help, but I couldn’t fix him,” she said. “I’ve always loved him and he knew that. I’m so relieved that he’s not suffering anymore and that he is at peace.”

Mr. Discatio took part in Mercy Hospital’s Eating Disorder Program a few times in recent years, but didn’t continue with it.

His sister-in-law, Irene Discatio of Windham, said that in the past year he wanted people to know he had an eating disorder to raise awareness of the disease.

She said he was a caring, loving and generous person, which many people overlooked.

“The general knowledge about eating disorders is minimal,” she said. “This disease is as much an addiction as alcohol and drugs. He was a good man. He just didn’t believe in himself.”

Mr. Discatio was diagnosed with cancer in 1992 and lost both of his kidneys.

In his search for an organ donor, his brother, Louis Discatio of Portland, was a match.

In January 1996, the Discatio brothers underwent a successful transplant operation.

“I made a promise to him,” Louis Discatio said. “He was my brother. I loved him dearly. He was a great kid. It was sad what that kid went through.”

Mr. Discatio would have turned 62 on Monday, the day of his funeral.

“As sad as it is, it’s a blessing for him and for us,” his brother said. “He fought a hard battle, but it just got the best of him.”

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

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