James Mark DeCoste

SCARBOROUGH – James Mark DeCoste, 95, of Portland passed away on Jan. 11, 2021 at the Gosnell Memorial Hospice House. It is with deep sorrow that we mourn the loss of our father but comforted knowing that he is now reunited with our loving mother, Dolores (Wally) B. DeCoste, his wife of 43 years. Their marriage was one of love and closeness, and he was devastated by her painful death from cancer. Losing her shortly after she retired, they were cheated of their hard-earned retirement together and tranquil empty nest. Dad had a unique, gentle manner and was always generous in spirit.

Dad was born in Portland on Feb. 10, 1925, the son of Martha Kane DeCoste and James B. DeCoste. He was born and raised in the same house that his maternal grandparents, who immigrated from Ireland, bought with their winnings from the Irish Sweepstakes. He was the eldest of three siblings. He often spoke fondly of excursions to Long Island he would take with his aunt, Molly Kane, who lived with them.

He attended Cheverus High School graduating in 1943 and then joined the United States Army Corps of Engineers during WWII. Dad was stationed in England, Germany, and France. He was tall and thin, and the English cold became too much for him as they slept outside in tents during the winter. He joked that one night he went AWOL to the USO Club in town just to warm his hands on a radiator (which earned him two weeks of KP). He was humble about his service during WWII, but he witnessed the inhumane devastation that war brought to Europe. On returning home, he attended Bates College where he studied social work.

Dad met Mom at a local dance while she was a student at Westbrook College. Their relationship blossomed into a once in a lifetime love. Both of them later went to work for S.D. Warren, Dad in the quality control department and Mom in the main office. Before they got married, they worked hard and bought a house in Westbrook after saving enough money for a large down payment. Dad married Mom on June 18, 1955. They had a big, beautiful, traditional wedding and were married by the Reverend Eugene Bettez, (Mom’s brother). Together they had five children whom they loved dearly and doted upon them making them their top priority. They loved spending time with their children at Sebago Lake and Pine Point Beach where Dad loved to swim. There was never a time Dad had an unkind word to say to any of his children and was always supportive. He loved all his grandchildren and was very much involved in their activities. Dad loved photography and film and captured all the meaningful memories of our childhood. Dad relished the blessings of my mother’s gourmet cooking and complemented her on every meal. He was happy just being home spending time with her. After our mom’s death, Dad was heartbroken. He then focused his attention on his family taking his grandchildren to various sports events or just visiting. Dad had a thirst for knowledge and a life-long love of history and for reading. He was an accomplished writer and enjoyed submitting editorials to the Press Herald.

In June 1999, he met Claire Begin, from Westbrook, whom he met after being invited to breakfast by a niece where Claire had also been invited – probably at a Dunkin Donuts. They married in December 1999 at the house of this same niece. Together they enjoyed 21 years of a happy marriage.

Our father’s life came full circle after he and Claire moved to Park Danforth on Stevens Avenue in Portland – a quarter mile from where he was born. He enjoyed being reunited with his brother, John and his wife, Barbara, and his sister, Eleanor, who are all residents of Park Danforth.

He is survived by his second wife, Claire Begin; his daughters, Mrs. Jeffery K. Kelly “Martha” of Pittsfield, Mass., Margaret “Meg” Wolff and her husband Thomas, and Elizabeth Bennett and her husband, Stephen, all of Cape Elizabeth, Ruthie “Tootie” Schmidt and her husband, Michael of Blanchard, Mich., and a son, William DeCoste and his wife, Ala, of Gorham; his grandchildren, Harry Tucker and his wife Denise Corbett, and his namesake, James Mark Tucker, and his wife, Abigail, all of Westbrook, his grandchildren, Sarah Kelly, of Middletown, R.I., Andrew Kelly, of Chicago, William Kelly and his husband, Victor Delarissa Da Costa, of Shrewsbury, Mass., Kate Delaney and Patrick Guerrero, of Brooklyn, N.Y., Francis Wolff and his wife Marinela Erdes-Wolff, of Miami, Cami Wolff, of Washington, D.C., and Stephen Bennett Jr., of Portland; his three great-grandchildren, Avery and Andrew Tucker of Westbrook, James Mark Tucker Jr. of Nixa, Mo., two step-great-grandchildren, Gavin and Jordan Day of Westbrook; and stepson, Christopher Guiliano, of Tewksbury, Mass. and his children and grandchildren.

Dad was predeceased by his loving wife, Dolores B. DeCoste; and his son-in-law, Jeffery K. Kelly; his parents, James B. DeCoste and Martha Kane DeCoste; and aunt, Molly Kane.

The family would also like to thank the doctors, nurses, and staff at Intermed and Hospice of Southern Maine, and Gosnell Memorial Hospice House.

Visiting hours will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 20 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Conroy-Tully Walker South Portland Chapel, 1024 Broadway, South Portland. Prayers will be recited at the Chapel at 9:15 a.m on Thursday, Jan. 21 followed by a 10 a.m. Mass of Christian Burial at the Immaculate Conception, 307 Congress St., Portland. Interment will take place in the spring.

On a beautiful Maine summer day when we can hug and join with family and friends, we will plan a celebration at the coast to honor the life of a great dad.

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