SOUTH PORTLAND — Ella A. McKeon, 93, a life-long resident of Portland and South Portland, died Sept. 23 at the Cape Memory Care senior living facility in Cape Elizabeth, following an extended period of ill health.

McKeon was born Sept. 16, 1920, in Portland, a year after her parents, Bernard J. and Isabella A. had moved there from Brooklyn, N.Y. She was the third of nine children, and a focus of the 2004 book, “In the Streets Half Heard.” Authored by her brother, Edward, the book is a chronicle of the family’s difficulties, survival and growth from 1920-1945 in Portland.

Never married, McKeon was always a backbone for her many brothers and sisters, especially during the Great Depression. She aided her parents in holding the family together, and in later years chose to remain with and care for her mother until her death in 1967.

McKeon was a hard worker and was continuously employed since her teens. She worked for Maine General Hospital, and during World War II labored as a welder at the South Portland shipyard. Later, she worked for many years with three Portland companies until each of them closed: the National Biscuit Co., a shoe factory in Libbytown, and the Burt Co., which manufactured gambling chips for Las Vegas casinos. Through her work, she developed self-reliance, a strong character and even a stern demeanor at times. 

After her retirement, McKeon served as a foster grandparent for 18 years, first in the pediatric ward at Maine Medical Center and then at the Preble Learning Center Daycare.

A devoted Catholic, she was a communicant of St. Dominic Church, later Sacred Heart Church, and finally for many years of Holy Cross Church in South Portland.

She was predeceased by brothers Paul and Thomas A., and sisters Mary Limauro, Agnes Valeriani, Theresa Manette and Anna Tanous.

She is survived by her two brothers Joseph J., of Portland, and Edward G., of Hampden, and 24 nieces and nephews.

She had long expressed her special thanks to the younger people living close to her, such as the children of her brother Joseph and of her sister Anna, who kept in touch, visited and cared for her during her elderly years.

Visitation was held Sept. 29, at Conroy-Tully Crawford, South Portland. A Mass of Christian burial was held at Holy Cross Church and burial followed in Calvary Cemetery, South Portland.

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