Rino Nadeau

Rino Nadeau, a longtime employee of General Dynamics in Saco who spent much of his life helping people maintain their sobriety, died Thursday. He was 73.

Mr. Nadeau was a beloved member of the 12-step recovery community in the Biddeford/Saco area. He was active at the Oasis Club in Saco, which supports and promotes substance-free living. In the 1980s, he served as vice president, then president of the club. He also worked closely with men struggling with substance use disorders.

He was remembered Thursday as a great friend and mentor to many people. His wife, Linda Nutter Nadeau of Saco, said Thursday he died having achieved 37 years of sobriety.

“He was very proud to have accomplished what he did,” his wife said. “He enjoyed helping others. He would say, ‘I don’t care what time of the night it is, if you feel you want to go out and drink, grab the phone and call me.’ He made himself available to everybody. He was willing to help anyone he could.”

Mr. Nadeau worked for Saco Defense, now General Dynamics, for more than 36 years. He started his career as a machinist and after about 23 years transferred to the maintenance department before retiring in 2012. His wife said he loved the work and people there, and worked a lot of overtime.

“He loved General Dynamics. He really did,” his wife said.

According to an obituary published in Friday’s newspaper, Mr. Nadeau spent his early years in Canada and moved to Maine at age 16.

Mr. Nadeau and his wife were married for 21 years. They met while working at General Dynamics.

She reminisced about their years together, saying they made regular trips to Canada, Aruba and Las Vegas. She talked about his passion for riding his Harley-Davidson Trike motorcycle.

“He loved that motorcycle,” she said.

In his early years, Mr. Nadeau raced at Beech Ridge Speedway in Scarborough.

He worked side jobs as a carpenter and snowplow driver. His wife said he plowed until last year. She said he was was always there to help friends and family.

“He was one amazing man … a loving man,” she said.

Mr. Nadeau was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) about a year and a half after retiring. His wife said the disease kept him from doing things he loved, such as riding his motorcycle and attending 12-step meetings.

“The COPD took his life,” his wife said, crying. “I’ll miss him being here with me. He was a very special husband.”

Visiting hours will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at Dennett, Craig & Pate Funeral Home,  365 Main St. in Saco. A funeral service will follow.

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