Chris Conlee’s nickname may have described him best. He went by “Miles,” short for “Miles O’Smiles,” a testament to his gregarious nature.

“He picked ‘Miles’ to stand out,” said Greg Palmer, who had been friends with Conlee since they met in kindergarten.

Conlee, 25, also felt the nickname helped distinguish him from the other Christophers in the world, Palmer said Monday.

Originally from Northbridge, Massachusetts, Conlee graduated from Northbridge High School in 2008. He loved to have fun, Palmer said, recalling how he and his buddy would skip class together in high school.

They moved to Portland about three years ago, Palmer said. Conlee took a few classes at Southern Maine Community College, but did not complete a degree. He lived on Oakdale Street and was visiting the house on Noyes Street when the fire hit.

Conlee was a hard worker who always kept busy with part-time gigs. He had worked at Bull Feeney’s in the Old Port, the State Theatre, the Holiday Inn and the Clarion Hotel, Palmer said.

“No one worked more than Chris, no matter what he was doing the night before, he always made it to work,” Palmer said. “He never called in sick.”

Music was a big part of Conlee’s life. He enjoyed seeing live music in town as well as attending large music festivals, Palmer said.

Conlee made friends easily, and was well liked at Bull Feeney’s and at Rosie’s, another bar and restaurant in the Old Port.

“Chris ended up making a lot more friends in Portland than I did, and I have lots of friends in Portland,” Palmer said. “Anybody could be friends with him. He just knew so many people.”

 – Matt Byrne

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