Daniel H. Deering

SOUTH PORTLAND – Husband, Father, Veteran, NARFE President, Daniel H. Deering, a lifelong Mainer and five-decade resident of South Portland, died September 7, 2020 at Hawthorne House in Freeport due to heart failure.

Daniel was born to humble beginnings in Ellsworth, Maine on February 8, 1936. From an early age, he worked as a laborer on local farms. Only sixteen-years old but already over six-feet tall, he lied about his age to join the Maine National Guard. He transferred from the Guard to the regular Army where he earned badges as a parachutist, an expert rifleman and a pistol sharpshooter among other awards.

Daniel joined the prestigious 82nd Airborne Division as announced in the Evening Express on November 27, 1954 with a picture of young Daniel in his jumping gear. Though proud of his time with the 82nd, Daniel had more fun with the 7th Army’s 81st Ordnance Battalion in Germany where he played with the Army’s biggest toys as a tank retriever. He was fond of sharing memories of Germany and Paris with other Europhiles. He was honorably discharged in November 1957.

Daniel returned to this mother, Hazel Jones, now living in Portland. He worked a variety of jobs before accepting employment as a bus driver with the Portland Coach Company. It was a fortuitous choice as this is how he met a young telephone operator and the love of his life, Helen Charlene Vanier. She would take his bus to work and he would chat with her. They recalled how, when Helen was late one morning, Daniel inspected his bus for defects until she arrived. They were married at Portland’s Sacred Heart Church on Halloween 1964 because the Saturday before that was already booked.

They lived in an apartment on Munjoy Hill. A son, Christopher, was born ten-months later. A daughter, Kimberly, a year after that. To accommodate his growing family, Daniel took a job with the U.S. Postal Service and they bought their first house in South Portland.

Daniel told the story of working on a freezing cold post office dock when he delivered a package to men in undershirts on a heated bus, sorting mail and wearing sidearms. When he asked how to get such a job, he was rather dismissively told to ask Portland Postmaster Bill Loring. Bill, as it turned out, was Helen’s uncle. Daniel loved working on this bus, an adjunct to the storied Railway Post Office, until the RPO was closed. He returned to clerking at the Portland Post Office, working his way up to Mail Classification where he explained complicated postal regulations to businesses in Northern New England and other postal employees. He was recognized for multiple years of perfect attendance. He retired in 1998 with 36 years of military and USPS service earned.

Not content to be fully retired, he was a president of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association chapter 206. He and Helen attended a NARFE National Convention in Reno as delegates.

Daniel returned to work, first delivering medication to nursing homes and then manning the ground transportation booth at the Portland Jetport. Situated just outside baggage claim, always gregarious Daniel loved assisting travelers with problems outside his normal duties. He especially enjoyed helping young service members. He exchanged euros for dollars for one soldier at a rate grossly unfair to Daniel and with no easy way for him to convert the euros back to dollars.

Daniel enjoyed many family vacations with his wife, children, and later grandchildren. They traveled to the Bahamas, Cabo San Lucas and made regular trips to Disney World, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. When he couldn’t travel, Daniel would fish locally whenever and wherever he got the chance. He owned an ice fishing shack, fished for bass around the state and trolled Casco Bay from his beloved Starcraft boat.

Over the years, the Deering’s shared their lives, homes and beds with pet dogs, Pokey and Heidi and cats, Simmy and Tigger.

Daniel is survived by his wife, Helen Deering; son, Christopher Deering; daughter, Kimberly Fournier; son, in law, Peter Fournier; grandchildren, Michael, Tessa and Samuel Fournier; and sisters, Nancy McPhail, Bette Redgate and Marilyn Jones.

Visiting hours celebrating Daniel’s life will be held on Sunday, September 13, 2020 from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm at the Conroy-Tully Walker South Portland Chapel, 1024 Broadway, South Portland. Prayers will be recited at the Chapel on Monday, September 14, 2020 at 10:15 am followed by an 11:00 am Funeral Service at Holy Cross Church, 124 Cottage Road, South Portland, Maine. For the safety of all members attending, and following state mandated guidelines, everyone in attendance is asked to wear a mask. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery. To view Daniel’s memorial package, or to share an online condolence, please visit http://www.ConroyTullyWalker.com.

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