More than 300 mourners gathered Friday to celebrate the life of Dean Coniaris, a lobsterman from Camp Ellis known as the “Fish’n Optician.”

Mr. Coniaris died Sunday from complications following cardiac arrest. He was 58.

He was remembered by family and friends this week as kind, compassionate and happy, having spent his life doing what he loved.

Mr. Coniaris lobstered out of Camp Ellis and wintered with his wife in Kennebunkport once his traps were hauled for the season.

He worked hundreds of traps along the Saco River and Saco Bay over more than four decades. He was also a ophthalmic assistant at optometry offices in Sanford and Portland for over 30 years. He worked at Eyecare Medical Group in Portland for the past 12 years.

Gretel Taska, the clinical director, said Thursday he worked part time during the months he lobstered and full time once his traps were hauled for the season. She said patients loved him.

“He loved what he did,” Taska said. “He loved eyes and he loved lobstering. He was really happy being able to do both jobs and have both careers.”

Mr. Coniaris had a 30-foot Jarvis Newman lobster boat and fished up to 800 lobster traps at a time along the Saco River and Saco Bay. Last season, he fished between 500 and 600 traps.

His wife, Ellen Coniaris, reminisced Thursday about their time on the water. She fished with him often, she said.

“He loved fishing. He really loved being on the ocean,” she said. “He liked being his own boss. He liked the hard work, the smell, the sea gulls, the whole package.”

Every day from 4 to 6 p.m. from late June until Labor Day, Coniaris and his wife would open their garage door on Eastern Avenue in Camp Ellis to sell lobsters to neighbors and visitors.

“If people needed to a borrow a lobster pot, we would give them one,” his wife said. “The next day the lobster pots would be lined up at the door. We never lost one.”

The funny thing about Mr. Coniaris? He didn’t eat lobster and didn’t wear glasses.

“He didn’t like the taste of it,” his wife said, chuckling.

Mr. Coniaris, also known as the “Mayor of Camp Ellis,” was loved in the communities where he lived and worked. This week, hundreds of people turned to Facebook to offer condolences and share memories. His obituary, posted on Cote Funeral Home’s website, had generated 30 comments as of 4:18 p.m. Friday.

State Rep. Donna Bailey, who represents Saco, wrote, “Camp Ellis has lost a true ambassador. His spirit and love for life will live on. I have requested a Legislative Sentiment in his honor, as it is only fitting and deserving.”

His wife said he had many friends.

“He was the kind of person, he always had the biggest smile,” she said. “He really did treat everyone with the utmost respect.”

Mr. Coniaris was a member of the Saco Fire Department Call Division for 38 years. He was also a member of the Masonic Lodge for nearly a decade.

One of the highlights of his summer was watching the fireworks on Thursday nights at Old Orchard Beach. His wife said they sometimes walked from Camp Ellis to Old Orchard Beach at low tide, then took the trolley back home.

“It was the sort of thing we liked to do,” she said.

Mr. Coniaris and his wife skied during the winter and he was a ski instructor as well. They skied nearly every weekend at Sunday River and Mount Abram.

A few years ago, Mr. Coniaris suffered a cardiac arrest while on the chairlift at Sunday River. Ten days before, an automatic external defibrillator was placed at the top of the lift.

“It was a miracle that he made it,” his wife said.

Mr. Coniaris suffered another sudden cardiac arrest just after Christmas and had been in intensive care for seven weeks at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. At the time he died, he was on the transplant list for a new heart.

“It was heart-breaking to see him living like that,” his wife said. “It so wasn’t him. It’s kind of a relief knowing he is in a better place. He isn’t suffering.”

A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at South Congregational Church in Kennebunkport.

Melanie Creamer can be contacted at:

[email protected]