"I usually agreed with his politics but even if I wasn't (in agreement) I thought he had the best interest in the country at heart," said Segersten, 68, of Hyannis.
The road from downtown Hyannis to the Kennedy compound curves along marshes full of ducks, and even at dawn several homes flew their flags at half mast.
Outside the News Shop, Linda, a self-described "hedge professional" who trims the shrubbery at the Kennedy compound, said she was saddened by the news.
She had been awakened at 1:30 a.m. when her daughter learned about the senator's death on Twitter.
"He was well-liked and he will be missed," said Linda, adding that Kennedy "always said hello as he drove his golf cart on his way to go sailing."
"You hear? Dead. Omigod terrible!" a power walker shouted to a friend across an intersection a half mile from Kennedy's home.
At dawn the only evidence of the death of Senator Edward M. Kennedy could be found on Marchant Avenue where motorcycle police officers blocked the entrance to the six-acre Kennedy compound – a sprawling shingled New England home that had been built by his father, the business titan Joseph Kennedy Sr.
But by sunrise, satellite television trucks gathered outside.
"Good times, bad times," Barnstable Police Chief Paul MacDonald, accustomed to directing the traffic and gawkers for Kennedy weddings and funerals, told the Boston Globe.
But during the day mourners appeared at Kennedy landmarks like the memorial, the compound and Boston's John F. Kennedy Library, where the body will lie in state before burial near his brothers John and Robert at Arlington National Cemetery.
Kennedy was a fixture in this small New England community, often passing through on his golf cart in khaki pants and short-sleeve golf shirts with his wife of 17 years, Vicki, en route to their private dock.
The couple often had their Portuguese waterdogs -- Splash, Sunny, and Cappy -- in tow when they sailed the waters of Nantucket Sound in their sailboat Mya.
"Everybody else sees him on TV giving speeches," MacDonald said. "Down here he is just another resident who wants to spend some time on the water."
"He was very approachable and a nice guy," said Jose Bosch, 50, a neighbor with a view of Kennedy's pier. "He wasn't aloof. He didn't walk around with guards. You could have walked right up to him."
Their thoughts were echoed by the state's top politician, Gov. Deval Patrick, who said, "One of the Commonwealth's brightest lights went out last night."
And former Gov. Mitt Romney -- once a Kennedy opponent -- also praised the senator's legacy.