Mourners will gather Saturday to pay tribute to Darrel Thurber, a skilled welder and longtime road commissioner in Pownal who died Wednesday after a long fight with cancer. He was 64.

Mr. Thurber was a lifelong resident of Pownal. In his early years, he attended Freeport High School but did not graduate. Instead, he enlisted in the Army. After his discharge, he began working for John G. Gibson Inc.

Mr. Thurber spent the next 22 years working for the town of Pownal. He served as road commissioner for 17 years and retired around 2003.

Tim Giddinge, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said Mr. Thurber was Pownal’s first appointed road commissioner. He said Mr. Thurber maintained and plowed town roads, maintained equipment, and prepared the municipal budget for road maintenance and purchases.

“He did a really fine job with a limited budget,” Giddinge said. “He was always conscientious about how much he spent.”

Giddinge said Mr. Thurber also “was a great machinist and a brilliant fabricator. If an intricate part of a machine broke or wore out, he would repair it or replace it by making the part by hand. He not only did that for the town, but he did that for a lot of people.”

In recent years, Mr. Thurber worked at Copp Excavation.

He and his wife of 43 years, Linda Thurber, lived in Pownal, where they raised two children, Jennifer Lizotte of Pownal and Charlie Thurber of Bath.

On Monday, his wife reminisced about the day they met while snowmobiling.

“He came out of a friend’s house. I said, ‘Who is that guy?'” she recalled. “I knew right then and there that I was going to marry him. He was very nice-looking. I had that feeling.”

Mr. Thurber was remembered by his family as a loyal friend and hardworking man who was generous with his time and talents. Lizotte said he was quick to lend a hand to friends in need. She said he once drove to The Forks in Somerset County and helped her build a camp for a friend. If someone’s car was broken down on the side of the road, he would pull over to help change a tire, she said.

“You never had to ask him for help – he would just show up,” Lizotte said Monday. “Everyone knew … if you were in his circle, you were in and he would do anything for you. He kept his circle pretty small, but he had a lot of friends.”

Mr. Thurber had a longtime passion for hunting. Lizotte said he would take off the month of November to hunt. He hunted close to home in Pownal.

“He would pass up bucks in the beginning to wait for the big one,” his daughter said. “Two years ago, he captured this really big deer on his camera. He held out and waited and got it. It was the most incredible thing. I want to say it was a 14-point buck. It was very big.”

Mr. Thurber enjoyed playing horseshoes, going snowmobiling, and meeting friends for coffee at Short Stop in Pownal. Rosalie Edwards, owner of Short Stop, said he was one of their best customers.

“He knew everyone and everyone knew Darrel,” Edwards said. “He had a lot of friends here. Everyone that worked here loved him dearly. People are very upset to see him go.”

Mr. Thurber was diagnosed with Stage 3 esophageal cancer in October 2012. His cancer spread to his liver and lungs. In September, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer. After Christmas, the cancer spread to his brain and most recently in his bones.

A celebration of Mr. Thurber’s life will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at North Pownal United Methodist Church.