William Dean Holtham died at his home in Kingfield, Me., on Sept. 10. He was 71.

Affectionately known to many by his nickname Willy D., he was a force of nature, a live wire, a big guy with an even bigger heart. Sadly, that heart suddenly stopped beating, but the stories and memories are never-ending, unforgettable and sometimes even unbelievable.

Will was born in Winsted, Conn., on Jan. 15, 1949 to Vinson and Millicent Holtham.

He graduated from the Carson Long Military Academy before attending Ohio State College and then Wentworth Institute of Technology. He played football and ran track where he earned the nickname “the mighty burner.”

He fondly recounted stories of working at and managing Valleys Steak House, Anthony’s Pier 4 and the Cummaquid Restaurant, before owning and operating his beloved Home Port Restaurant in Menemsha in 1977, followed by the Bite and Square Rigger Restaurant.

Will began working at the Home Port under former owner Chet Cummens, washing dishes and mopping floors, followed by years of hard work and tons of fun. His favorite part was making people happy with his cooking, he said, describing his time at the restaurant as part of his fulfilled American dream.

He was a generous man with a passion for cooking, eating, entertaining, teaching and bringing people together. Under his guidance lasting friendships and extended families were formed and generations of employees developed an unrivaled work ethic. When not working in the kitchen or playing a prank, he could be found playing golf, fishing, hunting or reclining in his favorite chair watching the New England Patriots, or searching for the next piece of Yellow Ware on the internet. He could also be seen fearlessly darting around or into trees on his snowmobile through the backwoods of Maine, mapping out his plans the night before on what trails to ride.

He is survived by his wife of 28 years, Madeline Holtham; two daughters, Jessica Bradlee, and Megan Bliss and her husband Eli; a son, Michael Holtham and his wife Jessie; four grandchildren, Parker Bradlee, Jolene and Margot Holtham and Harper Bliss. He is also survived by his sister Judy Giegler (whom he would no doubt like to razz just one more time), two nieces and a nephew.

If you find a piece of blue sea glass on Menemsha Beach think of him — as he would say, it’s a thing of beauty, guy. Willy was “mahvelous,” as he would often say in the kitchen, and will be missed tremendously.

Donations can be made to the local food pantry or the Martha’s Vineyard Fisherman’s Preservation Trust.

A celebration of life will announced and held at a later date.