BOOTHBAY – Daniel Kaler’s family remembered him Wednesday as someone who “enjoyed life to its fullest.”

Demonstrating his lightheartedness and zest for life, Mr. Kaler would round up diners at his restaurant, Kaler’s Crab and Lobster House, for “tide celebrations.”

Passing out cowbells and hats shaped like top halves of lobsters, he would lead the willing diners from the dock, through the restaurant and out into the street, said his wife, Mary Kaler.

“People loved it and had a great time with it,” she said. “It was a parade of lighthearted diners.”

Mr. Kaler died Saturday. He was 66.

Except for his four years in the Marine Corps during the 1960s, Mr. Kaler spent his life on the Maine coast as a creative businessman.

First, he was a self-employed lobsterman, then for a decade he worked as “the middle man” establishing Daniel Kaler and Sons Wholesale Seafood, said his son Sam Kaler.

In 1998, he transitioned from selling food to restaurants to operating his own.

“Dan always felt if you could have a family-oriented restaurant with reasonable prices and good food, people would find you and enjoy it,” his wife said.

And they did. Mr. Kaler offered casual dining and a full coastal experience for anyone who was interested. His wife said he set up a tank on the dock, near the restaurant, so children could see starfish, sea urchins, crabs and lobsters up close.

For the more adventurous, Mr. Kaler would take six passengers at a time on his fishing vessel, The Hunky Dory, which he had converted into a lobster boat.

“He only took six people at a time so he could sit down and tell them about the lobster industry,” his wife said, touching on topics such as male versus female lobsters, how to catch them, how to measure them and other interesting facts.

“He was very good with the kids, actually letting them do things,” she said, making it more of a hands-on experience than other commercial charters offered.

While Mr. Kaler was always busy with his business endeavors, his sons remember him for his involvement and support as they played sports. Just as his oldest son was finishing high school, Mr. Kaler started the Boothbay Region Youth Football League through the YMCA so boys could start playing before they were in middle school.

“It was great” having him as a coach, said his son Ben Kaler. “He always made it fun. Having him around, more kids would come out for sports. It was not always about winning for him, it was about playing hard and playing as a team.”

Sam Kaler cites his father’s involvement and the startup of the youth league as the reason Boothbay Region High School went from winning one football game a season in the early 1990s to winning back-to-back Class C championships.

At Kaler’s Crab and Lobster House, Mr. Kaler always had a hand in everything but never held an official title. Sam Kaler remembers one patron asking what his father did at the restaurant.

“He said, ‘I don’t really know what I do,”‘ his son said. “He’s the one that kept everything together, but he just didn’t have a title.”

“He’s just Dan, Dan the Lobsterman,” his son said with a chuckle Wednesday, remembering what children would call his father aboard The Hunky Dory.

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

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