Cambridge-It is with solemn sadness the family of LeRoy A. Portwine announce his passing on Saturday, March 12, 2022 following a long struggle with Parkinson’s, complicated by COVID. Born March 28, 1935 to Anthony and Rose (Mishou) Portwine in Island Falls, ME, brother to Georgie Anne Portwine (1927-2003), Portwine was a longtime resident and presence in Cambridge, NY, residing at 29 South Park St. before residing at the Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Hoosick Fall, NY.
He is predeceased by his wife of 47 years, Jane Vivian Portwine (nee Williams), and survived by two dedicated and loving daughters, Vivian Rose Rieben (husband Chris Rieben) of Cambridge, NY and Chantal Marie Portwine of Cambridge, NY., and grandson Charles Hodge (wife Amanda) of Hoosick Falls, NY, his paternal cousins Bill Potvin (wife Marilyn) of Maine, and Bob Potvin of Florida. He is predeceased by brother-in-law Theodore “Bud” Williams (wife Carol) and survived by extended family members including sisters-in-law Ann Mantz (husband Bill) of Lake George, and Mary Purdy (husband Ray) of Queensbury, NY, in addition to many nieces and nephews who mourn the loss of their uncle.
Portwine, affectionately known as “Big Daddy” to his daughters and immediate family, was a gentle giant with a long history of civic pride and duty. Portwine attended Cambridge Central School until the 8th grade before leaving to help his father maintain his family’s health and well-being. He later resumed his studies and obtained a GED.
Portwine served in the US Army (Rank: Private 1) from August 31, 1955-June 27, 1957 when he had to leave the army due to family hardship, again. Portwine transferred to the US Army New York Military District to complete his service and received a “Good Conduct” medal upon completion of his service, August 30, 1961.
In addition to his military service, Portwine served as a volunteer fireman in Cambridge from 1955-1984, serving as Chief of the Cambridge Volunteer Fire Dept. from 1967-1972 and again from 1974-1984. A man of faith, Portwine served as Elder and Sexton at the United Presbyterian Church of Cambridge and could often be seen riding his mower as he cut the lawn of the “White Church” at the corner of Main and North/South Park Sts.
Portwine enjoyed a storied career with New York Canal Waterways as Floating Plant Supervisor, Whitehall, NY to Fonda, NY, 1959-1994; With the Cambridge Village Public Works, 1958-1969; The Cambridge Village Police Dept., 1971-1976; and as a chimney sweep, with his good friend John Yourth.
Portwine was a fan of hunting, or perhaps more accurately a fan of hunting camp, enjoying the camaraderie of his friends (Dave Wilkie, Don Dusha, Gordon Guthrie, et al), brothers-in-law (Bud Williams, Baldy McLenithan, Ray Purdy), and his father-in-law, Theodore Williams, et al who hunted out of his father-in-law’s camp known as South Hollow, tucked away in Black Hole Hollow in Arlington, VT. Portwine could always be relied upon during work days in the Hollow, whether he was haying fields, felling trees, chunking logs, splitting and putting up wood at camp, helping build a much-needed new outhouse, or gathering sap during syrup season. When not working in the Hollow, Portwine spent many vacation days, holidays and weekends there with his beloved family, hiking, snowshoeing, sledding, playing cards (31), and relaxing with a whiskey (Jim Beam) and telling stories and jokes. And when not in the Hollow, he may have been found dipping his toes in waters off Wells Beach, ME, with his family.
Indeed, Portwine’s interests were varied and impassioned. There was not a sweet treat he did not relish with gusto, or a scratch off lottery ticket that itched to be scratched at the local Stewart’s Shop. He loved local and military history, kept up on current events and politics. He adored and spoiled his family and friends, offering insight, advice, support, and comfort to any and all who were lucky to know him.
There will be a memorial service to celebrate Portwine’s service and life well-lived, Thursday, March 17 at 11:00am at the Cambridge United Presbyterian Church. A reception will immediately follow at the Cambridge American Legion.
In lieu of flowers, family is asking fans of “Big Daddy” to please send donations to…
Cambridge United Presbyterian Church (CUPC), 81 E. Main Street, Cambridge, NY 12816 or Cambridge Vol. Fire Department, PO Box 554, Cambridge, NY 12816.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of LeRoy A. Portwine, please visit our floral store.
Cambridge United Presbyterian Church
81 East Main Street, Cambridge NY 12816
Cambridge Fire Dept.
P.O. Box 554, Cambridge NY 12816