Emidio John Palanza
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Emidio John Palanza, 89
SOUTH PORTLAND -- Emidio John Palanza, known by many as 'Uncle Andy' and to old time friends as 'Amo' died peacefully on Friday morning, March 18, 2011 after a brief illness. John, along with his wife Helen, bought Uncle Andy's Bakery in South Portland in 1951. It started out as a donut shop but they grew it into a full scale bakery and local institution. For over 40 years they worked daily, producing breads, cakes, pies, and assorted pastries. John took pride in knowing his customers enjoyed the items he created. That enjoyment was passed down from parents to children to grandchildren.
In 1954 John made headlines by creating a 750 pound lobster cake for the Osteopathic Association's 50th Anniversary. Every part of the cake was edible except the antennae, made out of bamboo. The cake was transported from South Portland to the Samoset Hotel in Rockland with a police escort.
Prior to becoming a business owner, John served in the Navy during WWII - from 1942 until his honorable discharge in 1945. Most of his time was spent deployed on the USS Iowa - a battleship that saw action in the Pacific, including the battles of Saipan, Tinian, Guam, Palau Islands, and Wakde Island. President Roosevelt used the ship on his journey to and from the Teheran Conference. Every night, the President specifically requested a dessert that consisted of fried dough made by John. In his later years, John loved to recount his many experiences on the ship and the time spent working at the Naval Hospital in Detroit after his discharge.
John grew up in the midst of the Depression which had a lasting impact on his view on life. He possessed a keen sense of the value of hard work and the importance of providing for the family. He was committed to ensuring his children had the advantages not available to himself as a child. He definitely believed in and exemplified the American Dream.
Although he seemed to work around the clock, seven days a week, John still found time to

John Palanza
enjoy his family. He loved owning boats and had excursions on both Casco Bay and Sebago Lake. For several years the family owned a camp on Sebago Lake and weekends were a time to relax and have fun.
After his wife, Helen, passed away in 1993, John retired and sold the business. In his later years he loved spending as much time as possible with his granddaughter, Libby. They spent time at Old Orchard Beach riding the carousel and enjoying the summer sunshine, and many hours were spent making jigsaw puzzles.
John was born in Portland on Dec. 23, 1921, the son of Camillo and Flavia (DiDonato) Palanza. He attended the North Street School and Portland High School.
He was predeceased by his wife Helen S. Palanza (Tucker); his parents; his brother Santo, sister Assunta Palanza and her twin brother Antonio. He is survived by his sister Mary Houston and her husband George of Portland and his brother Benedict J. Palanza and his companion Joannie Bennett of Scarborough; sons William J. Palanza and his wife Jean and John W. Palanza and his wife May all of South Portland and daughter Karen J. Palanza; grandchildren Michael, Joseph and Libby; great-granddaughter, Grace.
Visiting hours will be held on Sunday, March 20, 2011 from 2:00 to 5:00pm at the Conroy-Tully Crawford South Portland Chapel, 1024 Broadway, South Portland. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated two days later on Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 10:00 a.m at St. Peter's Catholic Church, 72 Federal Street, Portland with prayers being recited at the funeral home at 9:15am. Burial will follow in Calvary Cemetery 1461 Broadway, South Portland. Online condolences may be expressed at www.ctcrawford.com.



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Published in Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram from Mar. 19 to Mar. 20, 2011.
Memories & Condolences
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13 entries
March 22, 2011
Dear John,
I was very sorry to hear of the loss of your Dad. Please accept my sincere sympathy.
After our Saturday grocery shopping,
Uncle Andy's was our next stop...we enjoyed all of the fine breads and pastries.
Paul Chamberlain
March 22, 2011
Karen, Billy & John JR. I am so sorry to hear you lost your dad. He was a very hard worker and a wonderful man.He has been blessed to have a family of such hard working and loving children.He will be sadly missed. God Bless all of you .My prayers are with you. With Love, Marilyn Hutchings Gelegan ( Lancaster, Pa.)
March 21, 2011
We are so sorry to hear about your loss. We are thinking of all of you, but especially Karen and Libby.
Jess and Maddy Broda
March 21, 2011
We lived across the street from John and Helen for several decades, and so enjoyed our Bellaire Road chats with them. Whenever a bad snowstorm was raging in the middle of the night, I would look out my front door and see Helen - also watching fron her door. We'd acknowledge each other by flicking our outdoor lights on several times. I've missed her all these years and will now miss John. Farewell, best neighbor.
Sheila Donahue
March 21, 2011
Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time. We all have very fond memories of your Dad and Uncle Andy's. The Olson Family
March 20, 2011
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Palanaza family at the loss of John. Uncle Andy's Bakery certainly was a favorite place of mine - I loved the bismarks!!!Nobody made better cakes then Uncle Andy's.

We send our deepest sympathies to all of you from us in North Carolina.

With love and sympathy at this very difficult time. Sherry Jacques, Rob & Lindsay Stolsig
Sherry Jacques
March 20, 2011
My condolences to the family. I still miss you wonderful bakery. I remember Helen working there when I went in. She was a good friend of my Cousin Theresa in their teen years. You and Helen are missed.
Millie MCDONOUGH
March 20, 2011
I worked for John and Helen for 5 years. Uncle Andy's was my first real job. John and Helen taught me a great deal about hard work, respect and integrity. They were like family to me. Although John had a reputation of being a tough boss, he had a very kind and sweet side to him. That was evident in his products. Every doughnut, danish and cookie I have eaten ever since the closing of bakery has had to go through the "Does this even come close to Uncle Andy's" test. Not one pastry has even come close. No one could ever duplicate that famous "Cheese Pocket" danish! John and Helen will always have a "sweet spot" in my heart.
Alison Andrews
March 20, 2011
my condolances to the family at this time of loss. he was by far the best donut maker in the portland area. may you rest in peace"uncle andy"
ron perreault
March 19, 2011
I will always remember Uncle Andy as one of the most hardworking people I have ever known. I grew up with son John and Uncle Andy sent cookies or cupcakes to every class party we had throughout all the years we went to school at Hamlin Elementary. I can still see the orange and brown halloween cookies
March 19, 2011
I worked for Uncle Andy and so did my mom .....She worked for him for many years and even met my Father while working for uncle Andy...
I will always remember him and Helen...blessings to the family my prayers are with you all...your family blessed mine....
Mary Tucker
March 19, 2011
a very sad day my thoughts and prayers are with the palanza family
denis Hartley
March 19, 2011
John's passing reminds me of the years I watched Uncle Andy's grow from the sidelines. I was always interested though I never came in contact, because years ago, when I was in grade school, I was friendly with Helen, walking to school with her and her close buddy Theresa Davis. I remember them as they sang in close harmony for us at Bridge Street School, in Westbrook. Sounds as if she and John went on to make a great life together. I pray that her family finds joy in the memories they left them. Frances Johnson Mains formerly of Westbrook.
Frances Mains
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