Todd Babula, a fisherman found dead near his hunting camp in Maine, is being mourned by family and friends. Credit: Submitted photo courtesy of Portsmouth Herald

PORTSMOUTH, New Hampshire — Locals are mourning the death of Todd Babula, a fisherman, father and grandfather, who was found dead Sunday near his hunting camp in New Portland, Maine.

Babula, 59, graduated from Portsmouth High School with the class of 1977, lived with his mother Roma and was admired for his devotion to her and her sisters, all of whom live in Osprey Landing, his family said. His daughter, Lindsay Mead, said authorities told the family they believe Babula suffered a fatal heart attack near one of his hunting stands. Mead said her father never smoked and hadn’t had a drink in 28 years, but there’s a family cardiac history.

The Maine Warden Association for Search and Rescue announced Babula was found Nov. 11 at 3:30 p.m., “by a team of several game wardens doing a hasty search checking wooded areas for known tree stands he would use.”

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“This area is heavily wooded and located North of the ITS 84 snowmobile trail located between Route 27 and Atwood Hill Road,” it was announced.

Babula was reported missing Saturday at 5 p.m. by his uncle, near the camp built by Babula’s father “Sinker,” who worked for the Portsmouth Department of Public Works, Mead said. It was one of her father’s favorite places to be and he liked to be the first one up to the camp to enjoy the solitude, Mead said.

“My dad lived his life to the fullest, being adventurous, outdoorsy and doing everything he loved the most on a very daily basis,” his daughter said. “His dream was to live out his life at camp doing what he loved and he did just that.”

Before he went out hunting on Saturday, Mead said, Babula texted his mother to tell her he loved her.

His aunt Almeda Stafford, one of the Osprey Landing aunts, said, “Everyone loved Todd.”

“He was good to everybody in the neighborhood,” she said.

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Babula’s cousin Kim Coffey-Philbrick said he was kind, loved everyone and was fun.

Portsmouth fisherman Erik Anderson called news of Babula’s death “unexpected” and “very untimely.” He said Babula’s boat named Special K remains moored off Prescott Park and he described Babula as “a good guy, always jovial and happy.”

“He was always pleasant,” Anderson said. “He always seemed to be in good spirits.”

Mead said her father “was hilarious and he was always making people laugh.” She said her father and his brother Steve Babula were best friends who hunted and fished together and looked forward to the day her son Jason, age 4, was “old enough to reel in tunas aboard the Special K.

“Becoming a grandfather was one of his greatest accomplishments in life,” she said.

Geno Marconi, a Portsmouth native and director of Ports and Harbors, said his family has been friends with the Babulas for generations. He said their grandparents were friends, the families visited each other’s Maine camps and they all hunted together.

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“I’ve known Todd since he was a little kid,” Marconi said. “He was a good guy. I was sorry to hear about it. It’s sad.”

Marconi said whenever they got together, they asked each other how their mothers were doing.

“I know he took good care of his mother,” he said.

The Maine Warden Service reported Babula’s vehicle became stuck Saturday on a wooded road that is also a snowmobile trail and he made arrangements to have local neighbors assist him with getting it unstuck later that afternoon. After he was reported missing on Saturday, game wardens responded, found Babula’s vehicle and “used several different resources and techniques to try and find him” throughout Saturday night, it was announced.

On Sunday the search continued with warden K-9s, warden service aircraft, and some local residents, until Babula was found, the Warden Service said.

Mead said the family plans to celebrate her father’s life, perhaps near or on the water, at the camp, or both.