CAMDEN, Maine — After local chef Kevin Moholland died suddenly this summer of a heart attack, people in the midcoast pulled together to help the wife and six children he left behind.
“It’s clear they are beloved by a lot of people,” said Nancy Griffin of Thomaston, who is helping to organize a benefit auction and lobster bake for the family this weekend in Camden. “People are really reaching out to help them.”
She said Thursday she’s hoping for a big turnout for the event, which will be held 4-7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18, at the Camden American Legion Hall at 91 Pearl Street.
Chandra Moholland, Kevin’s widow, lives with their children — including 10-year-old twins, an 11-year-old and a 13-year-old — in a Habitat for Humanity home in Thomaston. She works as a waitress at the Elm Street Grille in Camden, a seasonal restaurant where Kevin, 45, also worked as a chef until his death on July 16.
“I hope we make enough money for Chandra so she can breathe easy for a while while she figures this stuff out,” Griffin said. “They’re dealing with a lot of grief.”
Kevin Moholland was born in Calais and graduated from Woodland High School. He worked for 10 years at the Elm Street Grille, where he was known for his delicious pizzas, Griffin said.
His brother, Jason Moholland, is a co-owner of the restaurant.
“His family was everything for him,” Jason Moholland said. “His kids. That was the biggest deal.”
The obituary noted that while he loved the Boston Red Sox and collecting model trains, “Most importantly, Kevin loved spending time with his children. His family remembers they were his whole world. He lived to be a dad.”
A summer resident of the area has given Chandra a year’s worth of heating fuel, which is a big help for the family, he said.
Sunday’s event will provide additional assistance, with donated auction items that include jewelry, a Neal Parent print, a Christie Smith print, gift certificates for a scenic plane ride, two batches of live lobsters, stays at the Country Inn, passes for the Camden International Film Festival, massages, Snow Bowl lift tickets and a getaway at the Humble Farmer’s B&B in St. George.
Attendees also can listen to live music and bid on the musicians, who have volunteered to be auctioned off to play for an event or gig. They also can dine on lobster, fish chowder from the Elm Street Grille, clams and more.
“It seems like it will be a pretty sizable event,” Jason Mohollond said. “It’s great for her and the kids. They could really use all the help they can get at this point.”
Chandra Moholland was featured in Patrisha McLean’s 2009 book “Maine Street: Faces and Stories From a Small Maine Town.”
The Camden photographer and wife of songwriter Don McLean has donated a photo shoot to the auction and will sign copies of “Maine Street” there.
In the book, Chandra refers to Kevin as “her little love story.”
“When we started dating, he’d send me roses. He still does,” she told McLean. “When I started working at Reny’s for the Christmas season, the first day he sent me a dozen yellow roses just to say, ‘I know you’re working hard.’”
She also described the couple’s excitement at being awarded title to a Habitat for Humanity house, which they helped build alongside many volunteers.
“The children want a swing set,” McLean wrote. “Chandra wants to buy a tree with Kevin and the children, plant it, and say, ‘This is going to be a new beginning for us,’ and watch the tree grow.”
Tickets for the dinner are $25 and will be sold in advance at the Elm St. Grille, 115 Elm St., Camden, and the Country Inn, Route 1, Rockport. The auction is open to the public.