CAMDEN, Maine — The accidental death Sunday of the director of Camden Parks and Recreation has hit many folks in the midcoast community hard, according to those who knew the avid outdoorsman.
Jeffrey Kuller, 56, died when a tree that he had been working on fell on him at about noon at his LeGrand Drive home, according to police.
“It’s really sad — everyone is in shock throughout the community,” said Pat Finnigan, Camden Town Manager. “Jeff was just a wonderful colleague. His passing leaves a big hole in our hearts.”
Officers from the Camden Police Department and first responders from Camden First Aid went to Kuller’s residence after receiving a 911 call. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Kuller, a native of St. Paul, Minn., had worked for Camden since 2004. One of his duties was to serve as the general manager of the Camden Snow Bowl and the Ragged Mountain Recreation Area — a task he undertook with both passion and patience, according to co-workers.
Brian Robinson of Camden has been a volunteer member of the mountain’s ski patrol since 2006 and also has served on the Camden Parks & Recreation Committee.
“He was an amazing organizer and had the ability to attract people to his vision that Ragged Mountain Recreation had something for everybody throughout the entire year,” Robinson said of Kuller. “Whether it’s dog walking or snowshoeing or tubing, ice skating, hiking or mountain biking, his vision was a 12-month accessible facility.”
Robinson said that Kuller, who also was a personal friend, was a thoughtful and considerate leader.
“He was very much a bridge builder when there were conflicts,” he said. “He was great at listening to everybody’s concerns and coming up with common-sense approaches that preserved and protected the resource for everyone in a way that brought people together.”
Before coming to Camden, Kuller worked for several years as executive director of a community sailing program in East Boston, Finnigan said. In Camden, he was very involved with the popular U.S. National Toboggan Championships, held annually at the town-owned ski facility. Finnigan said that he worked hard to get everyone — including children and people with disabilities — outside and, hopefully, on the mountain.
“Jeff was so passionate about having an active lifestyle and being outdoors, he wanted to share that with everybody,” she said.
He has been instrumental in the active campaign to raise $4.5 million to redevelop the Ragged Mountain Recreation Area.
“We just passed the $3 million mark,” Finnigan said. “Jeff was so excited, because the end was in sight. He was absolutely the moving force.”
Robinson said that Kuller’s dedication to his job was such that friends would often try to drag him out of the office so that he could get outside and on his telemark skis — one of his favorite things to do.
“It was difficult to get him away, and he absolutely loved it. Cherished it,” he said of skiing with Kuller. “I had fond memories of skiing through the glades with him.”
Kuller is survived by his wife, Alison, and two children, Finnigan said.
His death will reverberate far beyond Camden, according to Robinson.
“It’s obviously an incredibly tragic loss — not only for Alison and his family and friends, not just for the community of Camden, but for the area,” he said. “The whole midcoast area will feel the impact.”