John DiMatteo

About 300 people attended a funeral service Saturday to celebrate the life of John R. DiMatteo, a prominent Portland business leader who served as president of the Guy Gannett Publishing Co. for 13 years.

Mr. DiMatteo was a consultant for the Bernard Osher Foundation and served as a trustee on numerous boards, including MaineHealth and the University of Maine System. He died on May 5 at age 87.

Mr. DiMatteo was remembered by his children Friday as a devoted family man who worked tirelessly to make a difference in people’s lives.

He grew up in Portland and graduated from Deering High School in 1949. He attended Babson College and earned a business degree in 1953.

From 1959 to 1972, Mr. DiMatteo worked as an accountant at Jordan & Jordan in Portland. He became a partner of the firm in 1963.

Mr. DiMatteo joined the Guy Gannett Publishing Co., which published the Portland Press Herald and other newspapers, in 1972 as executive vice president and a member of its board of directors. He was named general manager in 1973 and president in 1978.

In news stories about his career, Mr. DiMatteo was credited with transforming Guy Gannett from a small company in Maine into a multi-state operation. Under his leadership, it grew from 1,000 to 2,000 employees. He oversaw the company’s four daily newspapers and a Sunday paper in Maine; television stations in Maine, Massachusetts, Iowa and Illinois; and radio stations in Miami and Orlando, Florida. He also oversaw the operation of weekly newspapers with a circulation of 500,000 plus a major printing plant in Minnesota.

“He was an incredible businessman and an incredible leader in the community,” said his daughter Martha Vorlicek of Belmont, Massachusetts. “He believed in giving back, but he did it in a quiet, humble way. He never sought recognition for anything, but of course it came anyways.”

For Mr. DiMatteo, family was everything. He was the husband of Patricia DiMatteo for 62 years. The couple met in high school and were married in 1956. They lived in Falmouth, where they raised three children. In addition to his wife and Vorlicek, he is survived by another daughter, Susan Keiler of Minot, and a son, Andrew DiMatteo of Needham, Massachusetts.

“He always talked to us about our limitless potential as long as we worked hard for it. There were never any barriers to what we wanted to do,” Vorlicek said. “There were never any expectations to be successful like him. He expected us to work hard at whatever we did, and set goals and try to achieve those goals.”

Andrew DiMatteo said family was at the center of his father’s life.

“He was a wonderful man,” his son said. “He exerted discipline when we needed it. He gave us comfort and support when we needed it. We really couldn’t have asked for anything more.”

Mr. DiMatteo gave tirelessly to the community. After his retirement, he became a consultant for the San Francisco-based Bernard Osher Foundation, which supports higher education and the arts, and served as a trustee on 17 boards, including the Portland Museum of Art.

Throughout his life, he was recognized with countless awards and recognitions. Those included the Man of the Year of the Portland Community, presented by the Portland Kiwanis Club in 1996, and the Spurwink Foundation Humanitarian Award for service to the community in 1990.

“He believed in giving back to the community and he taught us to give back,” Vorlicek said. “As a business leader, he felt it was important to share his abilities.”

Mr. DiMatteo and his wife moved to Cumberland in 2010. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in July. His daughter said he also had pulmonary fibrosis from unknown causes.

“He lived a long and healthy life right until the end,” Vorlicek said. “Up until a couple of years go, he was going on hikes. He was doing his own yard work, working in his garden, and going on fishing trips.”


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