PORTLAND — Michael A. Colello, 85, a well-known sports official, high-school basketball star and proud U.S. Navy veteran, died peacefully Feb. 17 at his home, surrounded by family.
Colello was born in Portland on March 18, 1929, the son of Mauro and Michelina (Indano) Colello. Raised on Munjoy Hill, he attended local schools and graduated in 1947 from Portland High, where excelled in basketball and played under legendary coach Jimmy Fitzpatrick.
On the court, Colello was a skilled foul-shooter, and won both the state and the New England foul-shooting championships. In the Maine contest, he beat out nearly 100 other high-school competitors, sinking 41 of 50 foul shots as hundreds of spectators watched breathlessly at the YMCA gymnasium. He later traveled to Boston Garden and shot 20 for 25, becoming the New England champ.
Colello joined the Navy in 1947. He served for four years, first aboard the USS Hyman, stationed off the coast of Israel, and then on the aircraft carrier USS Leyte, which launched bombing runs during the Korean War. While in the Navy, Colello also traveled to Japan and to Italy, where he and crewmates enjoyed an audience with Pope Pius XII.
After his honorable discharge from the Navy, Colello returned to Portland. He went on to work for Bancroft & Martin Steel Mills and Paul Revere Insurance Co., and then served as a letter carrier with the U.S. Postal Service for 21 years until his retirement. While with the USPS, Colello also served as vice president of the Letter Carriers Union and later helped organize activities for postal retirees.
In April 1964, Colello married his wife, Janice (DiRenzo) Colello, and the couple raised two children.
Colello loved sports, and for 12 years served as a respected basketball official and baseball umpire. He officiated hundreds of games across southern Maine, and was known for making – and sticking with – tough and sometimes even controversial calls. During his retirement, he continued to play golf, and enjoyed exercising and walking along Baxter Boulevard.
He also enjoyed dancing and was remembered for always being sharply dressed. He was a longtime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Portland Elks Club and the Italian Heritage Club.
Active in his faith, Colello was baptized and confirmed at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, in Portland, where he also served as an altar boy. He later was a communicant of St. Patrick Church and St. Pius X Church, where he handled collections every Sunday.
Most of all, Colello loved spending time with his family.
He was predeceased by his parents and his brothers, Donato Colello and Frank Colello.
He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Janice, of Portland; his son, Michael P. Colello, of Portland; his daughter, Paula J. (Colello) McGee, husband Mark McGee and their children, Grace Elizabeth and Jack Ryan McGee, all of Tampa, Florida; and his sisters, Lugri (Colello) Flaherty and Julie (Colello) Boyle, both of Portland. He was an uncle to many nieces and nephews, including Raymond Flaherty, of Lynbrook New York; Louis Flaherty, of Portland; Michael Flaherty, of Yarmouth; and Cathy (Flaherty) Young, of Gorham; as well as their spouses and children.
The family would like to thank all the staff of Hospice of Southern Maine, who provided compassionate care to him. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be sent to Hospice of Southern Maine, 180 U.S. Route 1, Scarborough, ME 04074.
A Mass of Christian burial was celebrated Feb. 21 at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church. Interment with military honors will be held in the spring at Calvary Cemetery, in South Portland.