Gene Swanson, a retired Westbrook firefighter who served as a call fireman for South Portland’s Willard Square Station for more than 50 years, died unexpectedly on Sunday. He was 69.

Mr. Swanson, a lifelong South Portland resident, was known in the Willard Square neighborhood as “The Lawnmower Guy.” For many years, he would repair lawnmowers and snowblowers for his neighbors. He also salvaged broken lawnmowers and put them up for sale on his lawn. Anyone who has walked or run through Willard Square at any point over the past 17 years has likely seen them.

“He took it very seriously,” his wife, Jeanine Swanson, said Monday. “If I said we have to go to Connecticut over Mother’s Day weekend, he would say that’s my busy weekend. He was always there to take care of anything. He was the one who picked up everyone’s pieces.”

Mr. Swanson and his wife, who were married for 45 years, had two children and six grandchildren.

“He adored his sons. They loved their dad,” his wife said.

Mr. Swanson became a call fireman in South Portland on April 1, 1965.

South Portland Fire Chief Kevin Guimond said Mr. Swanson consistently responded to 85 to 90 percent of calls for service throughout his career. Last year, he responded to 210 out of 243 calls. He also lived next door to the Willard Square Station, which helped his average.

“His dedication was second to none,” Guimond said. “His attendance was tops in our call company for a number of years. He was definitely a big part of the community. He loved the city and he loved the fire department. He was a real anchor in this community.”

Mr. Swanson also worked for the Westbrook Fire Department for 27 years. He served as shop steward and retired in 1998. Westbrook Fire Chief Andrew Turcotte said Monday that he was a well-respected firefighter.

“He dedicated his life to public safety and helping those around him,” Turcotte said. “It speaks volumes about who he was and his character.”

Mr. Swanson worked hard to provide a good life for his family.

“He was the hardest-working man I have ever known,” his wife said. “Physically, he was a bulldog. He was a jack of all trades and a master of none. He was also a man of his word. If he committed to something, he was there.”

Outside work, he had passions for boating and hunting.

For several years, Mr. Swanson spent many mornings at Dunkin’ Donuts and Bug Light Park in South Portland, where he socialized with a group of friends.

“I was hoping to retire next year,” his wife said. “It would have been nice to have some time together at Bug Light. … He was a man of simple pleasures. He loved a good honest friendship and a hearty laugh. It didn’t take much to make him happy.”