Thomas Dyro. Photo courtesy of his family

Thomas Dyro, a member of Portland’s recovery community who devoted much time to helping others, died Friday after a period of declining health. He was 70.

Mr. Dyro, known by many as Tommy D., was remembered Monday as a kind and thoughtful person who made an impact on people’s lives.

Dyro’s family spoke openly on Monday about his longtime struggle with alcoholism and willingness to stay sober. He died after 17 years of continuous sobriety.

His sister, Janice Stockson of Cape Elizabeth, said her brother attended 12-step recovery meetings throughout the Portland area. She spoke proudly about attending Dyro’s anniversary celebrations and noted he was always nervous, but spoke with confidence and conviction.

“He always said if I just help one person,” Stockson recalled, breaking down in tears. “I was so proud of him. There are no words … He was so bad and he almost didn’t make it, but he did. He finally surrendered and it made us all so happy. It was God’s work. That’s what it was.”

Mr. Dyro grew up in South Portland as one of nine children. He graduated from South Portland High School in 1968, then entered the Army and was stationed in Korea. Following his discharge, he worked as a laborer for construction companies throughout the Portland area.

Mr. Dyro’s struggle with alcoholism began at a young age. He was described by family and longtime friends in recovery as a consummate street drunk and a fixture on Congress Street. Stockson remembered the day she found him lying on the street, drunk and ready to die.

“He said, ‘I surrender. I quit,’ ” Stockson said.

Dyro got sober in 2002 and became active in the recovery community. He was a longtime member of the Portland Group, the Sahara Club, and a regular at Milestone Foundation’s 12-step call meeting. He also volunteered at the former Mercy Recovery Center in Westbrook.

“I absolutely loved him to death,” said Glenda MacLachlan, a longtime friend and former counselor at the Mercy Hospital Recovery Center in Portland. “I’m having such a hard time with this. …  He had a genuine love of life and a genuine caring for people, as well as an amazing sense of humor. His spirituality and his love for the Lord is what made him so special and he was free in expressing that.”

Portland artist Zoo Cain, a longtime friend and recovering alcoholic and addict, said Monday that Dyro helped a lot of people get sober.

“People loved Tommy,” Cain said. “I think he instilled a lot of hope in people. He really did. When he worked with people, he would really get down in the dirt with them … eyeball to eyeball and say, ‘You can do this.’ He made quite an impact. People are reeling from this.”

News of Dyro’s death drew more than 250 comments on Facebook.

Patrick Conley of Portland said Monday that Dyro was a dear friend. He shared memories of fishing, camping and watching the Celtics with him.

“Tommy was a great guy,” Conley said. “We had a great time. He had a heart of gold.”

A celebration of Mr. Dyro’s life will be held at a later date because of the coronavirus outbreak. Stockson said services were postponed because there are about 40 people in her immediate family.

“It’s hurting all of us not to be together,” she said. “It’s breaking our hearts that we can’t hug and hold hands and go through the process and grieve. We can’t really grieve.”


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