Donato Ferrante, 78: As newcomer, built business, family in Portland

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PORTLAND — Donato (“Danny”) Ferrante, 78, a former Portland business owner, died Dec. 4 after a long illness.

Ferrante was born July 13, 1936, in Lettomanoppello, Italy, the youngest of nine children of Rocco Ferrante and Giovina DiMatteo.

He left Italy as a young man and found work in Switzerland, Germany and Belgium before coming to Portland in 1961 to be near his brother, Antonio. The following year, he traveled back to Italy to marry Annetta Profenna, and the couple moved permanently to Maine.

For many years, day and night, Ferrante worked to support his family. He was employed as a machinist at Ametek Inc., a landscaper at the Songo Shoe factory, and a dishwasher and cook at the Sportsman’s Grill. He also worked as a sandwich maker at Amato’s on India Street in Portland.

In 1972, the weekend job at Amato’s became his career when John Amato offered Ferrante the opportunity to open a new store on Forest Avenue in Portland. Danny, as he was known to his customers, went on to independently own and operate Amato’s Sandwich Shop there for 25 years, until his retirement in 1997.

Ferrante was a member of the Italian Heritage Center, the B.P.O. Elks and the Columbia Club of Portland. He was also a communicant of St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, where he was a member of the Holy Name Society.

Ferrante’s hobbies included swimming, golfing, jogging and playing cards. In his later years, he enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren, watching cartoons and playing Tombola. He also loved taking Sunday drives along the ocean with his family. He is remembered as a great story-teller who shared many tales of his childhood in Italy and traveling throughout Europe.

He was predeceased by his parents; his brothers, Antonio, Vincenzo and Costantino; and his sisters, Santa, Filomena and Concetta.

Ferrante is survived by his wife of 52 years, Annetta (Profenna) Ferrante; his son, Rocco Ferrante, and wife, Gina DiPietrantonio Ferrante, of Portland; daughter, Giovina Ferrante-George, and husband, Robert George, of Fiskdale, Massachusetts; and daughter, Milva Smith, and husband, Stephen Smith, of Whitefield. He is also survived by nine grandchildren, Chiara and Anna Lisa Ferrante; Sofia, Olivia and David George; and Alessandro, Hugo, Giacomo and Mila Smith.

In addition, he is survived by his brother, Nicola Ferrante, of Lettomanoppello, Italy; sister, Lucia Ferrante-DiFazio, of Marcinelle, Belgium; nieces, Cindy Ferrante of South Portland, and MaryAnn Roberts of Stratham, New Hampshire; and many other nieces and nephews in Italy, Belgium and Germany.

Visitation was held Dec. 8 at A.T. Hutchins Funeral and Cremation Services, in Portland, and a Mass of Christian burial was celebrated Dec. 9 at St. Peter’s Catholic Church. Interment was to follow at Calvary Cemetery, South Portland.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the American Diabetes Association, P.O. Box 11454, Alexandria, VA 22312, or to the National Kidney Foundation, 30 East 33rd St., New York, NY 10016.

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