Southampton Town Police on Friday identified the clammer who died four days earlier after being pulled unconscious from Flanders Bay as 62-year-old Dennis Dakin of Elkton, Maryland.
Dan Dakin of Virginia, one of Mr. Dakin’s two sons, said this week that his father was clamming with cousin Ed Rasa in the bay near their grandparents’ summer home in Flanders on the afternoon of July 1, when the tide caused their small motorboat to come off its anchor and float away. Mr. Rasa said Mr. Dakin walked toward the boat and then removed his waders in an attempt to retrieve it, but he suffered a heart attack before reaching it.
“He was doing a thing he really loved doing,” Mr. Dakin said of his father. “He just loved the bay.”
Town Police, who have declined to offer a cause of death because they said they are still awaiting a report from the Suffolk County medical examiner’s office, said Mr. Dakin was clamming near Birch Creek when the tide caused the 23-foot aluminum boat to drift away, prompting him to swim after it. After losing sight of him, Mr. Rasa yelled to a passing tour boat from Riverhead’s Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center, though those on board the vessel could not pull Mr. Dakin from the water. They notified the U.S. Coast Guard at around 2:30 p.m., and officials were able to retrieve him after arriving at the scene about 11 minutes later.
Mr. Rasa said he and his cousin had fished in Flanders Bay since they were boys, crabbing and clamming—spending whatever time they could outside of school on the water.
“He was the kind of person that anybody who met him, loved him,” Mr. Rasa said of his cousin. “He was a magnanimous personality. There isn’t a person that didn’t take to him. There isn’t a person that he wouldn’t go out of his way to see that they were okay and that they were good.”
Mr. Dakin described his father as an intelligent, nice man, with a passion for rock ‘n’ roll. Mr. Rasa, who hails from Pennsylvania, recalled running into his cousin on the New York State Thruway on their way to the 1969 Woodstock concert—though neither knew that the other was attending. Mr. Dakin was walking with his friends as Mr. Rasa drove by trying to find a place to leave his car.
“He’d travel anywhere for a band that he liked,” Mr. Rasa said. “There wasn’t a rock ‘n’ roll group that he didn’t like.”
After growing up in East Northport, Mr. Dakin attended Cornell University in Ithaca and graduated with a degree in chemical engineering. He moved to Maryland, where he and his wife, Mary, raised their two sons, Dan and Tom. Mr. Dakin worked for the DuPont Chemical Corporation for about 25 years, and, after he retired, he took on two managerial positions.
Mr. Dakin said his father also had a knack for woodworking, and made various pieces of furniture for friends and family, and toys for the children—gifts that will now serve as mementos of his life.
“He’s going to leave a hole in a lot of hearts,” Mr. Rasa said. “He was just a wonderful man who will be missed by a lot of people, and he was taken far too young.”
In addition to his wife, Mr. Dakin is survived by two sons, Dan Dakin and his wife, Beth, of Great Falls, Virginia, and Tom and his wife, Kelly, of Bloomington, Delaware; his mother, Connie Dakin of Northport; a brother, Chuck Dakin and his wife, Lucy, of Los Angeles; his cousin, Mr. Rasa; and four grandchildren, Sarah, 5, Ryan, 3. Emma, 2, and Liam, 1.
Mr. Dakin was predeceased by his father, Wallace Dakin.
Services for Dennis Dakin were held at the Nolan and Taylor-Howe Funeral Home in Northport on Friday, July 5, and friends and coworkers held a celebration of his life at the Embassy Suites in Newark, Delaware, on Wednesday, July 10.