Alphonso “Tadpole” Willey Jr., 81, formerly of Waldoboro, died May 5, 2010, surrounded by his family at the Knox Center for Long Term Care in Rockland, after a long illness.

Born at Louds Island in Muscongus Bay on May 19, 1928, he was the son of Alphonso Sr. and Catherine B. Poland Willey. He grew up in New Harbor, where he attended local schools.

As a young man, he began his career as a commercial fisherman, in New Harbor.

From 1950 to 1952, he served during the Korean War as a cook with the U.S. Army. At the time of his discharge, he had earned the rank of sergeant.

Returning to civilian life, he continued fishing, primarily aboard Forty Fathom and Port Clyde Canning boats, out of Rockland.

April 8, 1955, he married M. Carlene Curtis in Rockland. The couple made their home in Port Clyde for many years, where they raised their family. After retiring from commercial fishing, Mr. Willey continued fishing, lobstering out of Port Clyde.

Even though slowed by illness, Tadpole continued to gather brush every Christmas season, which his wife used to create beautiful wreaths, and during warmer weather, could be found mowing and raking his lawn, often wearing his Santa hat. He also enjoyed picking strawberries.

His family said of Tadpole that he was always the shoulder they could lean on; that he would give the shirt off his back to anyone in need, and that he was a man you could always count on. He always ended any conversation with his son with a hearty, “Luv Ya Man!”

He particularly enjoyed playing Santa, often with eggnog on his beard, and once played Santa for the residents at the former Shore Village Nursing Center in Rockland.

Hooch, his Dachshund, held a special place in his heart.

Other than his parents, Tadpole was predeceased by a son, Richard H. Willey in 1988; and a brother, Harold Willey in 2002.

He is survived by his loving wife of 55 years, Carlene of Waldoboro; one son, Russell D. Willey and his wife, Elaine, of New Bedford, Mass.; two daughters, Tammie L. and her husband, Charles “Chuck” Mansfield and Marla J. “Pooh” and her husband, Chris Jarvis, all of Warren; one sister, Ella Benner of Waldoboro; seven grandchildren, Lisa, Crystal and Falon, Stephen and Shelby, and Ryan and Paige; five great-grandchildren; as well as several nieces and nephews.

The Willey family is grateful to Dr. Kahn and all the staff at the Knox Center and Kno-Wal-Lin Hospice for their wonderful care.

An informal gathering of friends and relatives will be held Wednesday, May 12 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Burpee, Carpenter & Hutchins Funeral Home’s 104 Limerock Reception Center in Rockland. A commemoration of life will be held at 12:30 p.m. The Rev. Andrew Stimson will officiate. Interment will follow in South Parish “Ridge” Cemetery in Martinsville.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Patient Activities Fund, c/o Knox Center for Long Term Care, 6 White St., Rockland, ME 04841.