PORTLAND – Eileen Dubail was a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother to more than 70 individuals, most of whom affectionately called her “Nannie.”

Mrs. Dubail died Saturday, the day before Mother’s Day, surrounded by her family. The lifelong Portland resident was 95.

“She was a very caring and loving person. She was a true family person,” said her daughter Edna M. Stewart of Windham.

Mrs. Dubail was born in Portland. She attended Sacred Heart Grammar School and the city’s former Cathedral High School.

Although she lived at Franklin Towers in her senior years, Mrs. Dubail and her husband, Edward F. Dubail, lived on Kellogg Street, on Munjoy Hill, for many years.

“She didn’t want to live anywhere else but Portland,” her daughter said.

Mrs. Dubail was a lifelong communicant at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Cumberland Avenue. She volunteered as an aide in the church rectory well into her 80s.

She faced a personal challenge early in her marriage. Her husband died in 1960, leaving her to raise their seven children on her own. She never remarried.

“My mother was a very strong woman,” her daughter said, referring to her responsibilities as a single mother.

“She taught us the value of telling the truth and of hard work,” Stewart said.

During her younger years, Mrs. Dubail worked at several Portland businesses.

A son, Edward J. Dubail of Portland, said his mother painted pool tables, made ammunition boxes during the war, dipped chocolate by hand and packed sardines.

But the job she loved the most was serving as an elevator operator for the business tenants at the Clapp Memorial Building on Congress Street. The building still stands today, across from the Portland Public Library and Monument Square.

“She was one of the last elevator operators in the city,” her son said. “They used to be all over the city.”

Elevator operators would greet people when they boarded.

“She loved meeting people,” her son said.

Edward Dubail said his mother became known as “Nannie” to her family and friends. It was an affectionate, somewhat old-fashioned term that was given to a caring, motherly person.

Mrs. Dubail provided child care for many of her family members. She had 27 grandchildren, 36 great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren.

“She even babysat a great-grandchild when she was in her 80s,” her daughter said.

In her spare time, Mrs. Dubail knitted newborn outfits, hundreds of mittens, crochet doilies, quilts and christening gowns.

Her daughter said Mrs. Dubail loved to shop. That was a good habit to have, since she had a lot of younger relatives to buy presents for.

“The amazing thing was that she knew all of us, even all the great-grandchildren. She tried to attend every event in their life because she always put family first,” her daughter said.


Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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