Robert Cole, a pioneer of Maine trade shows and longtime president of America’s Best Shows Inc., died on Feb. 18 after a period of declining health. He was 81.

Mr. Cole founded the trade show company in 1967 and produced popular shows such as the Maine Boat Show in Portland, the Augusta Camper & RV Show, and Augusta Boat Show for more than 30 years.

“He didn’t like to sit around. He was a doer,” said his son Thomas Cole of Topsham. “He would have these ideas and explore them. He took risks. Most of the things he did were quite successful.”

Mr. Cole began his career as a Boy Scout executive with the Charter Oak Council in Connecticut. There, he was tapped to produce a “Scouting Expo.” His son said the experience inspired him to organize a Camper and RV show at the Hartford Armory.

Mr. Cole and his three children moved to Brunswick in 1974 and built a life there. He bought 148 acres and built a housing development.

“He was truly a family man,” his son said, noting that he was a single father for a period of time. “He was always there for us and so supportive.”

Mr. Cole was an accomplished businessman, who served as president of America’s Best Shows Inc. for 48 years. The business, known by some as Northeast Trade Shows, was created to help businesses reach sales goals by bringing consumers face to face with their products.

As a producer, he organized trade shows at venues in Portland and Augusta, as well as New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

Among the shows he produced were the New England Log Home and Timber Frame Show, the Augusta Boat Show, the Maine Log Home Show, and the Northeast Commercial Boat and Fishing Show.

His son said he organized it all – from selling space to companies, to advertising with local newspapers and television stations – and was the first to arrive at a show and the last to leave.

“He was the guy on the floor marking it up for the booths,” his son said. “He had a passion for doing this and a passion for helping clients.”

According to his obituary, which is published in Sunday’s newspaper, Mr. Cole also produced concerts with Arthur Fiedler and The Boston Pops, and later added Bob Hope, Pat and Debby Boone, and Captain & Tennille.

One of his biggest supporters was his wife, Eileen Pappas Cole, who died in 2013.

The couple had a summer home in East Boothbay. He would commute to work every day.

They enjoyed planting gardens and working on the house, and also did a lot of traveling.

“They were inseparable,” his son said. “They were very happy together.”

Mr. Cole was a devout Catholic and active member of St. Charles Church in Brunswick.

He lived at Mid Coast Senior Health Center in Brunswick for the last three years. His son said he had Alzheimer’s.

He said his father was his hero.

“He was a great leader,” Thomas Cole said. “No matter what it was, he could lead people and know what to do. People just loved him. He just did a lot. Someday I hope to be just like my dad.”