Donald Anthony De Rice, Sr.

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Donald Anthony De Rice, Sr.
May 28,1944
April 16, 2020

SCARBOROUGH - Donald Anthony De Rice, Sr., 75, passed away on April 16, 2020, at Maine Medical Center. He grew up in Portland, ME and lived in FL, and NY, until he moved back to ME, residing in Scarborough, in 2015. He was born to the late Frank De Rice and Helen (Hillock) De Rice on May 28, 1944, in Portland, ME.

Don graduated from Portland High School in 1963, where he met the love of his life, Janit Espey, who he cherished deeply. When they first met, Janit thought Don was the “most annoying hellion!” Eventually, he quickly grew on her and they started dating which led to them becoming high school sweethearts and sharing a beautiful life of 60 years. Don’s love for Janit was shown in various ways. While in high school, Don decided to join the band playing the cymbals, only to be closer to Janit even though not having any rhythm! She used to nudge him when it was his turn to play. He also used to run everyday after school to catch up to her, as she walked to Clay’s Simonize Shop to spend time with his best friend. On the first Friday in May 1961, Don gave his high school class ring to Janit. From that day forward his dreams came true. He and Janit married on June 8, 1964 and the Army transferred him to Germany with Janit accompanying, where they had their first child. They shared their endless love and adventure with each other and traveled the world together.

Donald proudly served in the United States Army as a Corporal, 1st Recon Squadron, 2nd Army Cavalry. He was an Honor Guard at President John F. Kennedy’s funeral, a very proud moment in his life. When Don returned back to the States, he had a long career with the S.D. Warren Paper Company, where he served as a devoted Union Officer, Local 1069: United Paper Workers. An avid Democrat at heart, he was very involved with politics and social activism. Don loved history, singing, gardening, listening to 50’s & 60’s music, Animal Planet, documentaries and action movies. In his free time, he loved to golf with his friends and family, also teaching his grandchildren, Oliver, Sigourney, and Sophia the ropes as they carried his skills and strategies on Varsity teams. Don was very proud of the Hole-in-One he made in 2014 at Shadow Lake Country Club in Webster, NY, with his grandson, Oliver, by his side.

Don was an exemplary strong, tough man with a heart full of compassion and gold. He was very religious as a lifelong Christian, raising his children in St. Luke’s Episcopal Cathedral. He is most remembered for his generosity and helping people. A lover of animals, especially dogs and cats, Don & Janit raised many! He would say his best accomplishment was his family, which he was very proud and devoted. He raised his children and grandchildren to have integrity, character, and respect, which describes who he was. Those qualities were very important to him and Janit. Don took special pride, as a father-figure raising his grandchildren, Oliver, Sigourney, and Sophia, and cherished the special bond he had with his daughter Sonja, who he always said, “she’s just like me!” He highlights how they turned out as well-rounded and accomplished young adults who he admired and loved dearly, and they sincerely thank Papa. He brought life full of laughter, and memorable times to his family. He was never shy to be himself, never held back from standing up for his beliefs and for those without a voice. He was a hard worker, always proud, strong, kind, positive, compassionate and full of love. Don was a fighter for equality, racial and social justice.

Donald would like to honor and thank all those who have assisted him through the past few years, always shouting out, “I BEAT PANCREATIC CANCER!” He is gratuitous for all the doctors and staff at Maine Medical Center, Portland, ME (R4, AVU Unit), Maine Health Care at Home, Dr. Linford Stillson, Scarborough EMT, and Strong Memorial Hospital, Rochester, NY.

Don is survived by his beloved wife of 55 years, Janit (Espey) De Rice, his children, Donald Jr. and his wife Liliana, Matthew and his wife, Pamela, his daughter Sonja, his grandchildren Jazmin, Gabrielle, Matty, Oliver, Sigourney, Sophia, Vanessa, Isabella, Elijah, his great grand-daughter Wolfe, several nieces and nephews, and the pups! He is also survived by his sister, Francina (De Rice) Chapman and her husband, Lawrence.

Don was predeceased by his parents, Frank De Rice in 1991 and Helen (Hillock) De Rice in 2010, a brother-in-law, Clay Espey and sister-in-law, Sheila (Espey) Sypek.

A service will be held by the family at a later date.  In lieu of flowers, Donald would like donations made to the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland, P.O. Box 336, Westbrook, ME 04098.  Please visit to view Donald’s tribute page and to sign his online guestbook.

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