John Gregory Caterina Sr., 85: WWII veteran, great supporter of the Boys & Girls Clubs

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SCARBOROUGH — John Gregory Caterina Sr., 85, died Dec. 31 at the Maine Veterans’ Homes in Scarborough.

Born Jan. 21, 1926, he was the son of Anthony E. and Mary Hopkins Caterina. He was lovingly raised by his stepmother, Doris H. Caterina.

He was a native of Portland and grew up on Munjoy Hill where he and his older brother, Francis, sold newspapers, caddied at the Portland Country Club and delivered lunches to the longshoremen to help the family during the Depression.

At a young age, Caterina joined the Portland Boys Club as one of its early members. He fondly recalled his time at the Boys Club and credited the program with giving him direction and a love of sports during his youth. He frequently joked that “they kept me out of jail.” In Feb. 2009, Caterina was recognized by the Club as one of their oldest surviving members.

He was a multi-sport standout at Portland High School, where graduated in December 1943 and immediately enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He served in the South Pacific on the light cruiser, U.S.S. Pasadena, seeing action at Leyte Gulf, Iwo Jima, the Philippines campaign and the invasion of the Japanese homeland. His ship was anchored next to the U.S.S. Missouri at the signing of the surrender that ended World War II. The ship was among the first ships and crews to enter Occupied Japan and to spend time in Tokyo. He spoke frequently of the sorry state of Tokyo and the welcome they received from a population thoroughly tired of war.

Upon returning home, Caterina returned to school on the GI Bill and received and associate degree in business. He later earned a certificate in banking from Williams College. Caterina worked in banking his entire life, starting with ownership of the Lewiston/Auburn Credit Bureau, and then with a long career with Canal National Bank and Pepperell Trust in Biddeford.

As a member of the South Portland Planning Board in the 1960s and 1970s, Caterina played an instrumental role in the development of a crucial area of the city, the Maine Mall.

As an avid golfer, Caterina was a member of the Purpoodock Club in Cape Elizabeth and the Biddeford-Saco Country Club in Saco.

Caterina married Mary Ann Bennett in 1954 in South Portland where they resided with their three children for many years.

He was predeceased by his wife, Mary Ann, in November of 1999.

He is survived by his daughters Jean-Marie Caterina and her husband Geoff MacLean and their daughter Caterina MacLean and Jane Caterina Greer and her husband Larry and their son Michael Greer; his son John G. Caterina Jr. and his daughters Alicia Caterina and Carmen Caterina; brothers Albert and Robert; and many nieces and nephews.

A memorial Mass will be held on Jan. 7 at 11 a.m. at St. Bartholomew’s Church, 8 Two Lights Road, Cape Elizabeth. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery.

As it was Caterina’s great desire that other children would benefit from the opportunities the Boys & Girls Clubs offer; donations can be made in his name to: The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Portland, P.O. Box 7830, Portland, ME 04112.

The family would like to thank the Maine Veterans’ Homes, Aging Excellence, Mickey Higgins, Rakefet Kahn, and neighbors Tony and Sally Wagner for the wonderful care they provided to Caterina in his declining years.

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