Carl Darenberg Sr., 84, who died Tuesday at his home in Montauk, was one of the last of his generation - a charter boat captain whose boat helped keep the fishing hamlet alive for decades.
A Seabee in the Pacific during World War II, Darenberg came back to Montauk after the war, married his childhood sweetheart, Vivian, and went to work on charter boats.
Darenberg opened his own marina, the Montauk Marine Basin, in 1957. And he kept running charters out of Montauk until the 1970s, said his son Carl Darenberg Jr., who called his father one of the last of his generation.
His son recalled stories of Montauk just after the war, when fishermen would come out for the weekend on the Cannonball Express, the fast train out of Pennsylvania Station. "They came out by the trainful. They would jump out of the windows to get to the boats first," the younger Darenberg, also of Montauk, said.
For the last five years, the elder Darenberg was using a wheelchair and had to cope with several health problems. But his son remembers him the way he was, when he was still piloting a charter boat. "He was 6-foot-1 and 250 [pounds]. Always outdoors," his son said. "He was a robust fisherman for years."
When Darenberg married, it was to Vivian Tuma, from one of the best-known fishing families in Montauk. Her father, Frank Tuma, got Darenberg into his first charter boat. And for decades, he spent much of his life on the water, or getting other people's boats ready for sailing. Even fishing legend Frank Mundus fueled his boat at Darenberg's marina.
During the 1950s, Darenberg was a part of the crew that moved the U.S. Coast Guard station from the bay side of Napeague to Lake Montauk. "It was huge . . . a two-story building with a lookout station on top. They put in on a barge. His job was to tow it. Mom was on the inlet with a light shining, trying to tell him where it [the inlet] was," his son recalled. "It was snowing, and when they went to slow the boat down, the wind was pushing it faster than he could tow it. They had to slow the boat down to get the barge through the inlet."
Darenberg was still making his mark on Montauk, through the 150-slip marina his family operated and through the tag-and-release shark tournament he had been running for decades. The 40th annual tournament is scheduled for June 24.
John Behan, a nine-term assemblyman from Montauk whose family ran its own charter boats and who lost both legs while on patrol in Vietnam, remembers Darenberg as "a very tough, stern guy." But he also remembers how much he helped others: "He was one of the fishing legends of Montauk. . . . Just about everyone who ever fished had to go through Carl Darenberg at some point for help to keep their boat afloat or to get customers."
He also is survived by son Gary, of Montauk, and four grandchildren.
There will be a visitation Monday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at the Yardley and Pino Funeral Home in East Hampton. The funeral will be Tuesday at 10 a.m. at the Community Church in Montauk, with burial at the Cedar Lawn Cemetery in East Hampton. The Montauk fire department, where he was member for 20 years, will hold its service at the funeral home Monday evening.