GREAT DIAMOND ISLAND — Family and friends of Dennis Farrell Jr. struggled Tuesday to understand how a man who was so full of life and had so much to offer could have his life cut so short.

“Everyone is in shock,” said his wife, Amy Farrell, of Great Diamond Island and Savannah, Ga. “It’s unbelievable. He touched so many lives. He had this amazing presence. I can’t believe that he won’t be here to continue enjoying his life.”

Mr. Farrell was a former teacher, coach and director of admissions at Cheverus High School in Portland. He co-owned the General Store on Great Diamond Island and was well-known there and in the Portland area.

Mr. Farrell became suddenly ill early Saturday and was rushed from the island to Maine Medical Center on the Portland fireboat, but doctors couldn’t stabilize him. He died Sunday at age 41.

“It’s a tragedy,” she said. “I can’t make sense of this. We had a very intense relationship. We were together so often. As hard as it is to say, we lived each day to the fullest. I do have the comfort in knowing we enjoyed each other every minute.”

Mr. Farrell graduated from Cheverus High School in 1988. Five years later, he joined the staff at Cheverus as a teacher and director of admissions.

He taught English his first year and Latin his second year at the school. He also coached the men’s varsity baseball team.

Principal John Mullen said Tuesday afternoon that he was shocked to learn that Mr. Farrell, a student in Mullen’s English class in 1986, had died.

“It’s sad,” Mullen said. “I remember him as a very positive and fun-loving kid in the classroom. He was full of personality and full of life. We are praying for him here at the school and are deeply saddened as a community. I wish his family the very best during this difficult time.”

He and his wife were married for 11 years. His daughter, Meghan Farrell, will graduate from Scarborough High School in June.

Mr. Farrell met his wife in 1994 at the former Cadillac Jack’s bar on Fore Street in Portland. She remembered Tuesday the day he proposed to her at the end of the jetty at Spring Point Light in South Portland. He proposed on the Friday before Memorial Day in 1999.

“His daughter was on his shoulders, and they were holding the ring together,” his wife said. “My life couldn’t have been any better in that moment. He was such a sweet guy. He was the most thoughtful and generous person. He always thought of me before himself.”

Mr. Farrell left Cheverus around 1995 and later moved to Charlotte, N.C., to be a sales representative for Tosco Corporation, one of the largest independent petroleum refiners in the United States. He then worked for ConocoPhillips as sales director of its Atlantic region. He managed the sales force from Eastern Canada to Florida and at a facility in Savannah, where he and his wife have a second home.

His wife said he was well-respected in the industry.

“He loved being around people and building relationships,” she said. “He was phenomenal at it, but he wasn’t a typical corporate person. For him, it wasn’t all about the bottom line. He cared about the people he worked with.”

A couple of months ago, he traded in his suit and tie for a pair of flip-flops. At the time of his death, he was pursuing an opportunity to open a business in Portland. His wife said they had plans to move permanently to the island. She said he was looking forward to being part the Portland community again.

“It was kind of like he was coming home to do what he wanted to the most,” his wife said. “He was still young. I wish he could have done that.”

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: [email protected]