Evangelista Donatelli

PORTLAND – Evangelista Donatelli, 84, died on Monday, May 16, 2022, of natural causes at his home in Portland that he shared with daughter Anna, son-in-law Tom, and their three children, Lily, Lucy and Tommy.

Evangelista was born on March 20, 1938, in the small town of Lettomanopello, Italy. He was the son of Faustino and Santa Donatelli and brother to Marietta Donatelli. “Vangie”, as he was known to everyone in Portland, came to the United States specifically to be a tailor. His aunt, Lucia Donatelli DiPietro, a resident of Portland at the time, went to the Gordon’s Men’s Shop in Monument Square to inquire about a tailoring position for her nephew.

Zia Lucia (as he called her) and Mr. Gordon then arranged for safe passage for Vangie, his wife and his son from Italy, by ship, which was generously funded by Mr. Gordon. Vangie arrived on a Friday, August 20, 1965, and began work the very next day. Speaking only Italian, he self-taught himself the English language. Italian remained his language of choice to his family and “broken English” became his second language to his customers and friends.

Evangelista and his wife bought an apartment on St. Lawrence Street on Munjoy Hill, where many of the Italian immigrants settled in Portland at the time. Their son, Peter, was added to the family in 1966, then daughter, Luana in 1969 and Anna in 1975.

Vangie worked at Gordon’s for several years and also worked evenings at Anderson Little at the Maine Mall to supplement his income not only to support his growing family here in Portland, but to help support his parents and sister in Italy.

In 1972, Evangelista fulfilled the American Dream and opened his own business. He and his wife purchased a property on Congress Street (known to family and friends as the old Tailor Shop). Years later, he purchased the old B&B laundromat which is now Liliana’s Laundromat and moved the tailor shop to where it has been for more than 40 years.

Over the 50 years at the businesses, Mr. Donatelli was blessed to work with his children, Faustino, Peter and Anna. He was also fortunate enough to see his friends daily who stopped in for coffee, lunch and the occasional whiskey that he kept hidden behind the lining. His grandchildren grew up in the tailor shop and laundromat which substituted as a playground and after school care facility for them. His life was filled with friends, family and community. Vangie and his wife bravely came to a country where they did not speak the language or understand the culture. They worked hard for years to give their family a better life than they had and to help support their families in Italy. Vangie was an old school Italian man who cherished his heritage and traditions.

Evangelista and his family were lifelong members at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church in Portland and he also belonged to the Italian Heritage Center. An avid golfer, he and his friends were part of the Construction League at Riverside Golf Course for several years. Back in the day, after playing a round of golf, Vangie, his friends, and his sons would often go back to the family business and cook Italian dishes in the mini kitchen of the shop’s basement. It became commonplace on Munjoy Hill for Vangie and Liliana to serve large pasta meals to friends and customers.

In 2018, when he turned 80 years old, he was given a day-long celebration at the Tailor Shop, and was given a key to the City by the Mayor of Portland. Vangie worked full time at the tailor shop up until about five months ago. He moved a little slower in the past few years but continued to make his customers a priority. He was often seen waving to people from his chair in front of the laundromat where he sat quite a bit as he got older.

Vangie was predeceased by his wife, Liliana Donatelli in 1999.

He is survived by his children, Faustino, his wife Lisa, Peter, his wife Cindy, Luana and her husband Michael Bosse, and Anna and her husband Thomas Johnson. He is also survived by his grandchildren, Nick Casale, Sam Napolitano, Fausto Donatelli and his wife Kristine, Cassandra Donatelli, Gabriella Casale, Nicolas Donatelli, Isabella Casale, Joseph Casale, Lily Johnson, Lucy Johnson, Tommy Johnson; and great-grandson, Phillip Napolitano. He is also survived by his oldest, closest and dearest friend, Tony Mancini.

A wake will be held at Jones, Rich & Barnes Funeral Home on Sunday, May 22 from 4-7 p.m., and a Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at The Cathedral of The Immaculate Conception, 307 Congress St., Portland at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 23, with burial at Cavalry Cemetery in South Portland.

You may offer your condolences or share your memories at http://www.jonesrichandbarnes.com.

In lieu of flowers, the family would like to have donations made in his name, to

Cheverus High School,

267 Ocean Ave.,

Portland, ME 04103

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