MANATEE -- Danny Molter, whose CB radio name was "The Bug Man," cherished his family, friends and customers at Molter Pest Control, as well as helping strangers and eating well.
He really loved pulling off a good practical joke.
Longtime Bradenton City Councilman Gene Gallo has a gem about the 63-year-old Mr. Molter, who died Tuesday after a short, fierce battle with Stage IV lung cancer: "For years, I did a lot of hunting with him. Twenty of us would go to a deer-hunting camp in South Carolina."
Bob Molter, Danny Molter's father, who established the state's second State Farm Insurance agency in Bradenton, was among the hunters, as was Danny Molter.
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"Bob asked several of the bunkmen at the hunting camp if they could get some good moonshine for the hunters," Gallo said. "They said, 'Sure' and they went off to get the stuff. When they arrived with several gallons, Bob and Danny Molter, who were both licensed by law enforcement agencies in Manatee County, met them at the bunkhouse door with their badges and said, 'You are all under arrest.'
"For a few precious seconds, those bunkmen thought the world had fallen in on them," Gallo said. "You should have seen their faces. Then, of course, Bob and Danny started laughing and we all started laughing and the bunkmen realized they had been taken."
Mr. Molter's sense of humor extended to the cosmic.
Here was a man whose life was dedicated to pest control, yet he made a door in the dining room of the elegant home in the 7700 block of 19th Avenue Northwest he shared with his longtime partner, Denise Leavitt, so an estimated 30 wild squirrels who lived around the neighborhood could come in to get nuts.
"He even named the squirrels," Leavitt said, speaking of Gracie, Lucy, Sonny and Emma to name a few, all of whom who Mr. Molter trained to eat out of his hand.
"Danny would fall sleep with squirrels on his chest," said Eric Grimes , who Mr. Molter unofficially adopted as a son after Grimes' father, police officer Herbert Grimes, was killed in the line of duty in 1986, when Eric Grimes was 6.
Mr. Molter's best friend, Ray Shannon, owner of Bradenton's Shannon Funeral Homes, also has enough stories about Mr. Molter to fill a book.
Mr. Molter loved law enforcement and served for the Manatee County Sheriff's Office and the Bradenton Police Department during his life.
"I would expect a thousand will come to his visitation because he touched so many people with his good heart," said Shannon, who will host the visitation from 6-8 p.m. Friday at Shannon Funeral Home's Westview Chapel, 5610 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.
Shannon and Mr. Molter ate lunch together nearly every day, usually at Popi's Place 6, 6409 Manatee Ave. W., where, says Shannon, the grilled hamburger, cheese and fried onion on bread Mr. Molter relished should now be renamed, "Danny's patty melt."
"If all of the time and energy he donated to his community could be turned back into dollars, he would be on the billionaire list," Shannon said of Mr. Molter.
Mr. Molter was an inventor whose creations are sold in stores around the world.
The Extendo-O-Drain raises the height of a shower drain for remodelers. The Water Saver goes on the toilet and saves water with every flush, Grimes said. Quick Connect creates an alternative hook-up during internal toilet repairs.
Molter was a founding member of the Manatee 100 Club, which supports law enforcement members and their families and he was on many advisory boards.
Mr. Molter founded the Manatee High School Baseball Foundation, raising more than $500,000, Grimes said.
"There is thought of renaming the field for him," Grimes added.
Mr. Molter had five children, including Danny Jr., Lori, Bobby, Caryn and Mallory. Bobby died in 2013.
Mr. Molter loved to take bass fishing trips to the family "lake house" on Okeechobee with Mallory.
"My dad was my best friend," Mallory Molter, 23, said. "I did everything with him. We hung out together."
"A Celebration of Life" for Mr. Molter will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at West Bradenton Baptist Church, 1305 43rd St. W.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter@RichardDymond.