LARGO ó Bill Loder, who founded the Crabby Billís seafood restaurant in Indian Rocks Beach, died at Largo Medical Center Thursday afternoon.
Mr. Loder, 86, had trouble breathing early in the day and was rushed to the hospital, said his son Matt Loder. He said most of the family was able to say goodbye before his father died.
"Dad lived a full life," Matt Loder said. "He worked at the restaurant as recently as last Tuesday. He was there scratching lottery tickets, talking to customers ó doing what he loved to do most."
The elder Loderís venture into the seafood business started in the mid-1950s, when he and his wife, Dolores, sold blue crabs on the side of the road in New Jersey, his son said. The family moved to Florida in the 1960s, and in 1983 they turned a hotdog stand in Indian Rocks Beach into a the first Crabby Billís.
Mr. Loder opened a few more restaurants with the Crabby Billís name and sold the company in 1995. He bought the business back just two years later, his son said, but the ownership structure became somewhat complex. The family manages the day-to-day operations for the Crabby Billís in St. Pete Beach.
The younger Loder now runs the family business, which includes the original Crabby Billís location, Lu Luís Oyster Bar and Sea Breeze Island Grill in Redington Shores.
Mr. Loderís health had declined over the last few years, his son said. He said his father suffered from vascular problems after more than 60 years of smoking. He quit last year and remained confident that he had decades of life ahead of him.
"He expected to live to 115," Matt Loder said. "He kept saying that his grandmother had lived to be 102, so he was sure he could make it that long. For him, it wasnít a joke. He had high hopes."
Mr. Loderís wife died in 2000, and two of his children died 2010. He was survived by three of his children and a dozen grandchildren.
Contact Jonathan Capriel at 813-225-3141 or [email protected] Follow @jonathancapriel.