Louis B. ‘Louie’ Maietta Jr.

SOUTH PORTLAND — Friends and former colleagues are mourning the death of former state Representative, City Councilor and firefighter Louis B. “Louie” Maietta Jr. this week, reflecting on decades of public service and personal friendship.

Friends said Maietta, 64, who died unexpectedly Jan. 24, was tough and forthright — unafraid to tell people what he thought, but also fair and open-minded enough to listen.

“He loved to laugh,” South Portland School Board Chairman Richard Matthews said. “He loved to smile, but he was opinionated, too. With Louie, you always knew where you stood.”

Matthews had known Maietta for decades. In the 1970s, when Maietta first began serving the community as a call firefighter, Matthews’ father served with him. Maietta was a decade older than Matthews, and in his teenage years Matthews looked up to him.

“He definitely was more like an older brother to me,” Matthews said.

Monmouth Town Manager Linda Cohen worked for the city of South Portland as a secretary in the code enforcement office in 1987 when she met Maietta. Throughout her time in the city — later as the city clerk, then as a councilor and mayor — she remembered him as a good friend and colleague.

Cohen remembered one occasion when she told her friend, who spent a lot of time at Beech Ridge Speedway, that her daughter had never been. Without being asked, Cohen said, Maietta got the family tickets, and even arranged for Cohen’s daughter to ride in the pace car. Cohen said that was indicative of the generosity Maietta was known for.

“I always kind of thought of Louie as the brother I never had,” she said.

He was a strong public figure as well. South Portland Deputy Fire Chief Michael Williams recalled that during Maietta’s term as a city councilor from 1999 to 2002, and later as a state representative, Maietta was determined to shirk political convention to get things done.

Williams, who was the union representative for the local firefighters union, said Maietta called him directly to discuss union-related conflicts. The discussions, Williams said, were not against the rules. But Maietta’s fellow councilors advised against the informal contact; during sensitive negotiations it could be seen as a sign of giving ground. Maietta, Williams recalled, was having none of that.

“He was a guy who wanted to cut through the red tape,” he said. “He wanted to hear what the other side was.”

Matthews recalled that Maietta wasn’t shy about expressing himself in local politics, but he still believed in civil discourse.

“He might have had his own opinions, but he was fair,” he said.

Matthews said the friendship he’d had as a youth with Maietta blossomed into a professional relationship that benefited them both. They often consulted with each other, Maietta as councilor and state rep, Matthews as a school board member.

“We would always bounce ideas back and forth between each other,” Matthews said. “We were friends, but we were also politician friends.”

Most recently, Maietta had been serving since 2017 on the South Portland Civil Service Commission, one of three bodies, together with the city’s human resource department and the police and fire chiefs, that make decisions on hiring or promoting public safety employees. Commission member Pedro Vazquez recalled Maietta’s background as a call firefighter and dispatcher as being invaluable.

“He would just guide us through a history of South Portland that most people wouldn’t know,” he said. “To me, Louie was the kind of guy, it was community, family, and work. That was his life.”

According to an obituary published in the Portland Press Herald, Maietta is survived by his wife of 45 years, Jane, as well as three daughters, eight grandchildren, one great-grandchild and six brothers. A celebration of life will be held from 3-6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 29 at the Conroy-Tully Walker South Portland Chapel at 1024 Broadway. Services will be private but will be live-streamed at 10 a.m. Jan. 30.

Cohen said she will always remember Maietta’s dedication to the city and the impacts he had, not just on her personally, but on the public as a whole.

“The man was absolutely dedicated to the city,” Cohen said. “He loved South Portland.”

Comments are not available on this story.