People either loved Radkin or hated him, he said.
Neighbors had feuded with him in Alburgh, where he had been known to run around his property naked, Fluery said.
"Radkin was very, very rude," he said.
Born Richard A. Burgess in Greenfield, Mass., in 1945, he graduated from Deerfield Academy and later changed his name to just Radkin, and eventually lived as a caretaker on property on Shelburne Point. He worked at Mad River Glen ski area in Fayston at one point. He liked to go to auctions and flea markets and lived off the grid.
"He was an unusual fellow, that's for sure," Powell said.
Radkin had asked the owner of Shelburne Point, a prime piece of land on Lake Champlain, if he could keep his horse there and eventually built a house on wheels and asked if he could keep it there and live it in.
Willard Jackson said he agreed, with some trepidation. "For over 20 years, he was the self-appointed caretaker of Shelburne Point and in the process became a legend," Jackson wrote in an online memorial to Radkin.
Jackson's son said Radkin was told he needed to find another home when the family decided to subdivide the property. He moved 55 miles north to Alburgh, but it took him a number of years to leave the point, moving small amounts at a time, Van Powell said.
When a friend had not heard from or seen Radkin in a while, he called the sheriff's department. His body was found crushed under the trailer last March, in an accident that officials believe happened in December 2011. A memorial gathering was held in Shelburne Point in August.
"He was fiercely independent and, in his later years, lived like a pioneer or as Henry David Thoreau did at Walden Pond. He hardly ever bought anything and was content to make do with what no one else seemed to want. He was a farmer, mechanic, inventor, engineer, philosopher, concerned citizen and loyal friend," Jackson said in his memorial.
The property is now being handled by a lawyer. If the price is right, Fleury would consider buying it.
"I'm thinking I'm going to have quite a remodeling job on my hands," he said.
Rathke reported from Montpelier, Vt.