PORTLAND – Michael Salafia saw something in nature that most people overlook.

“He believed there was a direct connection between the earth, the wilderness and people,” said his brother, Mark Salafia.

In the hundreds of pictures that Mr. Salafia showed his brother, Mark Salafia admits he never saw the same connection.

“These pictures reflected something that he saw, something that I didn’t,” he said. “He loved to show these pictures and tell his stories. He wanted to put you in the picture when he was telling you.”

Mr. Salafia died Sunday. He was 45.

Growing up in the woods of New Hampshire, he and his brother were always active outdoors. Mr. Salafia’s love for camping and hiking started when he was young, as did his intrigue with nature.

“We, as kids, spent a lot of time walking around the woods, catching frogs and playing in swamps,” Mark Salafia said.

One cousin, Jennifer Berube, shared Mr. Salafia’s passion for hiking. They traded tips and shared books on the subject.

“He was an avid hiker. If I ever needed any information, he was happy to provide that,” she said.

Mr. Salafia hiked throughout Maine and New Hampshire, always looking for a challenge.

“He did it for the fun of it, but he did like a challenge for himself,” Berube said.

As a way of sharing his love for the outdoors, Mr. Salafia would take his brother’s children, Kristina and Anthony, on nature trails.

“They loved it,” Mark Salafia said of the adventures, including one trip to Wolfe’s Neck Farm in Freeport.

Through his love of nature, Mr. Salafia developed an eye for photography, his brother said. He would capture all of his adventures on film, whether it was hiking, snowshoeing or swimming off a secret island he had discovered.

With the technology of the digital camera, Mr. Salafia also became very competent with computers. His brother said Mr. Salafia would show others how to do various things if they didn’t know how.

His family remembered him Tuesday as someone who could cheer up anyone.

“When there was a get-together, they could always count on his humor to light things up,” his brother said.

“(He had) an extra element of entertainment with his humor. He always made us laugh. He was funny and wanted people to be happy,” Berube said.

Over the years, Mr. Salafia also developed a love for NASCAR racing and shared that with his family.

“He’d come over on Sundays, talking about NASCAR. At first, we weren’t into it,” his brother said.

Slowly, they saw the fun of racing. Every Sunday, the family would gather at Mark Salafia’s home and pick car numbers. They would follow the cars and root for their numbers throughout the race.

“He really enjoyed coming over and spending time with the kids,” his brother said.

“He was really good with kids. He had a way with children,” said another cousin, Cheryl Berube.

Mr. Salafia also had a way of taking care of people who needed help, she said. When his mother was sick, he was by her side, spending hours in the hospital.

“He devoted all his time to her when she was sick,” Cheryl Berube said. “He really took care of his mother. You have to respect him for that.”

 

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at: [email protected]