In his early years, Everett “Sonny” Traynor would paddle his rowboat out on Casco Bay and haul lobster traps to help provide for his family.

He worked as a sternman on a lobster boat and helped process fish for distribution.

Everett “Sonny” Traynor Photo courtesy of Bob Niles

“He was a wharf rat,” said his nephew Bob Niles. “He did whatever was needed.”

Traynor, a fixture on Portland’s waterfront, died on April 5 from heart failure. He was 94.

He was a successful businessman and part owner of the former Willard-Daggett Co., once the largest distributor of fish and lobster in New England. He was a salesman, who bought directly from fishermen and sold to local restaurants and grocery stores for three decades. Niles said he was highly respected by fishermen.

“The job meant everything to him. It was his life,” his nephew said. “He loved working with people. Knowing the fishing industry so well, he was able to talk the talk and walk the walk with the fishermen and senior vice presidents who were buying. He was very well known throughout the city.”

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Traynor was also a shareholder of Newick’s Lobster House for about 30 years. He retired from the fishing business around 2000.

Jack Newick, 83, owner of Newick’s Lobster House, said Traynor sold seafood to him for his restaurants.

“He was a great friend and a great help,” Newick said. “He knew how to buy and he knew how to sell. They don’t make them that way anymore. He really knew his fish.”

Traynor grew up on Wilmot Street and went to Portland High School. After graduation, he enlisted in the Army. He was stationed in Germany and served with the Army’s Military Police Corps in the European Theatre of World War II. He reenlisted during the Korean War and served stateside as a firearms instructor.

He was married to his wife,  Anne, for 53 years. The couple lived in South Portland and raised two children.

Anne Traynor died of cancer in 2006.

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“She was the love of his life,” Niles said. “They did everything together. He just adored her. I think she adored him as well.”

Traynor worked for the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office for more than 20 years. He served as a sheriff’s deputy and later as county  commissioner. Niles said that as commissioner, his uncle interviewed hundreds of law enforcement officers seeking employment.

“He felt proud to be putting good police officers out into the community,” his nephew said.

In recent years, Traynor lived in an apartment at 100 State St. in Portland. He enjoyed walking around Portland’s West End and spending time with his kids. Until three weeks before his death, he walked a mile a day, his nephew said.

“He was always doing something. He wouldn’t sit for too long,” Niles said.

Niles said his uncle was a genuine, honest and positive guy who made an impact on people’s lives.

“You knew exactly where you stood with him,” Niles said. “He had some people who didn’t like him around town because he was who he was. He called a spade a spade.”

Niles said he admired his uncle’s generosity. Over the years, Traynor made friends with many of the city’s homeless people. If Niles was  driving with his uncle and stopped at an intersection near Deering Oaks, people would call out things like, ‘Hey, Sonny, how you doing?’

“He’d always take 20 bucks out and give it to them,” his nephew said. “One of the guys he met was hard of hearing so he brought his old hearing aids down for him. He was a very generous person.”


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