Paul J. Cereste, 73, of West Bath, ME, passed away peacefully on December 8, 2020, at Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough. His wife of 53 years, Sue, was at his side. Paul died of scleroderma, a rare autoimmune disease that can manifest itself in a number of forms. His was known as diffuse systemic and can affect any organ in the body. In Paul’s case, the disease destroyed his digestive tract functioning. Unfortunately, there is very little in the way of effective treatment when digestion is affected. Paul was only diagnosed with the disease a little over a year and a half ago. Paul’s case progressed unusually rapidly. He fought the disease and its ravages valiantly, with stoicism and courage, until just days before he died.
In addition to his loving wife, Paul leaves two daughters, Billie E. Cereste and her husband Bryan Selee of Harpswell, ME, and Heather X. Cereste, her partner Michelle Morale, and their daughter Mary O. Cereste-Morale, residing in southern New Jersey. Also, Paul leaves his younger brother Timothy J. Cereste and his wife Yoko of Armonk, NY. Additionally, he leaves his brother-in-law, John Coffin, of Myrtle Beach, SC, as well as three nephews and one niece.
Paul was born on September 17, 1947, at Mercy Hospital in Portland. He was the eldest son of Ann Naughton and Alfred J. Cereste. Shortly thereafter, the family moved briefly to Orangeburg, NY, and then to Baldwin, NY, on Long Island where Paul grew up and attended school. His father was the Assistant Superintendent of schools for a nearby town and his mother was a special education teacher. Paul graduated from Baldwin High School in 1965. He attended the NY Institute of Technology prior to joining the Navy where he was in the nuclear submarine program. The family was stationed at Pearl Harbor, HI for 3 years where their youngest daughter, Billie, was born. He left the Navy with an honorable discharge after serving 8 years. He then worked in purchasing at Maine Yankee Nuclear Power Plant in Wiscasset for many years, before taking early retirement at 50 when the plant was closed in 1997. He subsequently worked for Proctor & Gamble at their Tambrand Plant in Auburn, then as the purchasing agent for the Portland Water Department, retiring in 2013. For almost all of his working career, Paul and his family lived in Wiscasset, where their daughters attended school and Paul served for a number of years on the school board.
After Paul retired, he and his wife Sue spent a number of winters enjoying their time in Marco Island, FL, where they resided at the Mariner Apartments in a condo previously owned by his parents. Paul served on the Board of Directors at the Mariner for a number of years before his illness forced him to resign. While in Florida, Paul was an active member of the Marco Island Amateur Radio group (known as “hams”). This group met weekly for lunch until the pandemic struck. He was also a member of the Quarter Century Amateur Radio group that met for lunch monthly in Naples, FL. Paul was a lifelong ham radio enthusiast, getting his first license at age 13 and keeping it up all his life. He also passed the 20 words per minute Morse code test and achieved his Extra grade radio license. He made many friends through ham radio over the years, most recently Martin Orloski, Will Barry, and Gene Giddings, all of Maine.
Paul was a kind, loving, and patient man. He had a great sense of humor, was intelligent and articulate, and was methodical and persistent. He always maintained a calmness, even in times of challenge or crisis. He enjoyed many hobbies other than ham radio, including hunting, fishing of all sorts, pipe and cigar smoking, photography and last, but not least—food. He loved eating and was very eclectic in his appreciation of food—from ziti and sausage to lobster rolls, and he made the absolute best ones himself, to Asian cuisines and in Florida, he enjoyed hogfish, gulf shrimp and stone crabs. He also enjoyed taking photos of the many meals he enjoyed. So, it was particularly cruel that his disease affected his ability to eat.
The family would like to thank the staff at Maine Medical Center in Portland, particularly in the ICU and telemetry wards, as well as the staff at Gosnell House for the excellent care they provided to Paul towards the end of his life.
Arrangements are being handled by Desmond Funeral Home in Bath. There will be no services at this time due to the pandemic. Paul wished to be cremated and to have his ashes scattered in a number of places in Maine and Florida that he had loved. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Scleroderma Foundation, New England Chapter, 300 Rosewood Dr., Suite 105. Danvers, MA 01923. Donations, if desired, may also be made online or by phone. Paul will be missed by many, especially by his wife and family in more ways than can ever be expressed.
To share your thoughts and condolences with the family, please visit www.desmondfuneralhomes.com.