PORTLAND — Henry S. Bertin, a longtime owner of Sawyer’s Flowers and Greenhouse who was widely viewed as an icon in the floral industry, died early Tuesday. He was 81.

Mr. Bertin began working in the floral industry with his father, who owned greenhouses in Westbrook and at Woodfords Corner in Portland. He worked there briefly before relocating the business to Congress Street in Portland’s West End.

By the time he retired, Mr. Bertin had been president and owner of Sawyer’s Flower Shop for 35 years.

His wife, Anna Bertin, said many family members were involved in the business. She took care of the bookkeeping and whatever else needed to be done. He taught three of his daughters floral design, and his son helped with deliveries.

“He was very proud of the fact that his children learned the business,” his wife said Tuesday.

She described her husband as a generous, compassionate and hard-working guy who went out of his way to make customers happy.

If a bride wanted a particular type of flower for her wedding, he did everything he could to get them. Her husband would often travel to Boston for fresh flowers for a wedding or funeral, Anna Bertin said.

Mr. Bertin probably saved many marriages and relationships, too, she said. Men would call the shop or go there late, begging him to send flowers to their wives or loved ones. “He got many guys out of the doghouse,” she said.

Dan Kennedy, owner of Sawyer & Company Florist, Harmon’s & Barton’s and Minott’s Flowers, bought the business from Mr. Bertin in 2000.

Kennedy said he was considered an icon in Portland’s floral industry and was well-known and well-respected by local flower wholesalers.

“He had a passion for flowers. It was his life,” Kennedy said. “He was one of the last living floral icons in the industry. Whenever I had a question, I would run it by Henry. He would say, ‘Well, this is what I would do.’ It was like your grandfather giving you advice. He had been there, lived through it and done it.”

Mr. Bertin and his wife were married for 61 years and raised five children.

His wife said they shared a good life together.

“He was a very good husband,” she said. “I’ll miss seeing him. He might be sitting on the couch and I might be in the chair. We didn’t say too much in the evening, (but) just knowing he was there was a comfort.”

 

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: [email protected]