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
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