KENNEBUNK – Stephen Klein, the longtime owner of Mermaid Transportation Co. Inc. in Scarborough who had a passion for traveling, photography and life, died on Sunday. He was 74.

Mr. Klein bought Mermaid in 1995 and operated the business for 16 years. During his tenure, the company provided transportation to more than 100,000 customers traveling to and from airports, hospitals and schools throughout New England. He employed 22 drivers and a dispatcher.

He was remembered by his employees Thursday as a great person who cared about his workers and did what he could to help people.

Daniela Allenwood, the office manager for Mermaid, said he was creative in growing the businesses. A 1998 news story in The Portland Press Herald said he capitalized on Manchester Airport’s growing popularity and started offering transportation to that airport from Maine. At the time, he also was providing transportation from Maine to Logan airport in Boston.

In 2004, he saw an opportunity to control fuel costs and bought a Ford Escape hybrid SUV. Mermaid was one of the first businesses in the state to use a hybrid vehicle.

“He was always on the go … always trying to think of what else he could do to grow the business,” Allenwood said.

Reflecting on his passing, she said, “It’s sad. When you walk by his office, it’s empty.”

The business will now be operated by Susan Klein, who was Mr. Klein’s wife for 42 years.

His daughter, Crissa Klein of Kennebunk, spoke Thursday about his success as a businessman and a father. She described him as an outgoing guy who easily made connections with people. She said he had a great sense of humor and liked to tell jokes.

“Most people knew him for his jokes, laughs and his smile,” his daughter said. “He was a real people person. I think a big part of his business in Maine was built around his relationships and his loyalty to people.”

Mr. Klein moved to Kennebunk in 1994 from Woodbridge, Conn. He lived there for more than 20 years, working in retail and commercial real estate and as a financial advisor.

Before that, he worked in public relations for CBS News, ABC and Katz Media Group, covering historic events such as the assassination of John F. Kennedy. His daughter said he went to college with Ted Koppel and they occasionally worked on alumni projects together.

“He loved working in television,” his daughter said. “He got to interact with various news affiliates and various newscasters.”

His daughter talked about their relationship, reminiscing about the years he got her ready for school. She and her mother often called him “Mr. Mom,” she said.

“He was a great dad. He did everything from getting me ready for school to putting my hair in pigtails and helping me with my homework and college essays,” she said. “In the past several years, he had enjoyed being a grandfather.”

In recent years, Mr. Klein and his wife enjoyed kayaking and gardening together. He also had a passion for photography and traveling.

Last month, he had two surgeries to repair a ruptured disc in his back. He developed a severe staph infection from one of the surgeries.

“My mother and I are still in a little shock,” his daughter said. “I feel fortunate that he was there for the major milestones in my life, but I’m sad that he won’t have the opportunity to see his grandsons grow.”

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

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