Capt. Louis Samuel Larsen, a Chilmarker whose larger than life presence epitomized the persistence and adaptability of Menemsha fishermen, died on March 11 in West Palm Beach, Fla. He was 88 and had wintered in Florida in recent years.
He was born on Nov. 27, 1925, to Norwegian immigrants Daniel and Kristine Larsen at their home on Larsen Lane in Menemsha.
A lifelong fisherman, he began his career fishing alongside his father and his two brothers, Bjarne and Dagbard. He sailed the oceans from Newfoundland to the Gulf of Mexico in pursuit of swordfish, groundfish, and other profitable deep sea species, and he made many lifelong friends along the way.
After serving in the merchant marine during World War II, he returned to Chilmark and met the love of his life, Mary Smith of Edgartown. They were married on April 24, 1948, and together they raised four children.
Captain Larsen could not only catch fish, but he also had a gift for marketing his catch. In 1969, he and Mary opened Larsen’s fish market in Menemsha.
After retirement, the Larsens travelled the world, leaving the retailing of seafood to their descendants.
He was larger than life, massively kind, gentle and generous, with a grand sense of humor and a twinkle in his eye. His granddaughter Kimberly Rogers said, “He was like having Santa for your grandpa.”
He loved to cook for family and friends. Every year on Thanksgiving weekend, he marshaled the family — including aunts, uncles, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren — for the traditional Norwegian rolapolza construction, a lamb concoction that cured until Christmas when it was eaten.
Captain Larsen was predeceased by his parents; by his wife of 62 years, Mary; his two brothers and his two sisters, Olga and Nicka.
He is survived by sons Daniel and his wife, Marie; Louis and his wife, Beth; by his daughters Kristine Larsen and her husband, Kirk Safford and Mary Elizabeth “Betsy” Larsen and her husband, Robert Sloane; 10 grandchildren, Kimberly Rogers, Heidi Arroyo, Daniel Larsen, Isaiah Scheffer, Aaron Larsen, Travis Larsen, Jeremy Scheffer, Hans Larsen, Andrew Larsen, and Sam Larsen, and nine great-grandchildren. He will be missed by family and everyone who knew him.
A potluck lunch at the Chilmark Community Center celebrating his life will follow the graveside service at 10:30 am, at Abel’s Hill Cemetery on Saturday, March 22.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Island Food Pantry, P.O. Box 1874, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568, the Chilmark Fire Department, P.O. Box 119, Chilmark, MA 02535, or to the Tri-Town Ambulance, P.O. Box 457, West Tisbury, MA 02575.