ROCKLAND — Friends of Adam Purington describe him as polite, quiet and hardworking, a veteran who was a respectful guest at Thanksgiving dinner.

But he died alone, in a storage container at the Rockland Fish Pier, with six uncashed paychecks on him when he died.

His death, apparently from carbon monoxide poisoning, has shaken those who knew the 37-year-old Purington.

His boss of the last two years, Frank Thompson of Vinalhaven, said Purington was incredibly nice and one of the hardest workers he has had.

“He would always meet you with a handshake,” Thompson said.

Other crew members who worked with Purington were too upset to talk Tuesday, Thompson said, as they unloaded lobsters from his lobster smack at the fish pier.

Thompson said he believes that Purington was a veteran. Thompson’s wife does the laundry for the crew members when they are on Vinalhaven, and found Purington’s Veterans Affairs card in a pocket, he said.

Michelle Stanley of Vinalhaven said she and her then-boyfriend invited Purington to their home for Thanksgiving last year.

“He was very, very polite, very kind, very respectful,” Stanley said.

She said she also believes Purington was a veteran but did not know in which branch of the military he served.

Purington told her that he never married and had no children, although he did have girlfriends. He said he was from Gardiner, and still had some family members there, she said.

Purington was found about 7 a.m. Saturday by a friend who was a fellow crew member. Police say his body was found in a storage container used for bait. A forklift had been turned on that police believe may have been used to provide heat.

An official cause of death is pending tests by the state medical examiner’s office.

Friends say Purington would stay on the lobster smack, a boat used for transporting lobsters, when it was on Vinalhaven. The boat is equipped with heat, sleeping quarters, and a microwave. He also spent time at his former girlfriend’s residence or stayed in local motels.

Stanley speculated that Purington may not have been sleeping in the container overnight but may have simply gone to the pier early in the morning to wait for the arrival of Thompson’s lobster smack, which transports lobsters from the island to the mainland, and went inside the container to get warm.

Temperatures dropped to 25 degrees Saturday morning.

Police said acquaintances they spoke with told them they were not surprised at the idea that he might have been sleeping in the container.

Burpee Carpenter and Hutchins Funeral Home is handling the arrangements for Purington. No information on services was immediately available.

Efforts to reach family members were unsuccessful Tuesday.

At Monday night’s Rockland City Council meeting, newly elected Mayor Valli Geiger spoke about Purington’s death, noting that everyone in Rockland should have housing and be able to connect with others in the community.

“The problems of the world are incredibly daunting,” Geiger said. “But in this city we have an opportunity to make small changes for our own humanity, little changes to reach out in our community to people like that young man who was in that storage container.”

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