February 23, 2018
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John Muir actor coming to Ellsworth fundraiser

Contributed | BDN
Contributed | BDN
Lee Stetson as John Muir photos, in attachment, courtesy of Friends of Acadia. w/JONI story
By Joni Averill

Readers in our area who have seen Ken Burns’ PBS Emmy Award-winning series “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” will be thrilled to know one of the stars of that series will appear in a benefit performance Sept. 26 in Ellsworth.

Lee Stetson, an actor living in California who portrays naturalist and conservationist John Muir, will perform “An Evening with John Muir” at 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 26, at The Grand in Ellsworth.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, $8 for children 12 and under and are available at The Grand box office, by calling 667-9500 or visiting www.grandOnline.org.

Sponsored by The Bar Harbor Inn & Spa, proceeds benefit Friends of Acadia and The Grand.

For those who did not see the series, the National Parks website describes it as a six-episode series that took more than six years to film.

It features national parks from Acadia to Yellowstone and tells the stories of “the people who were willing to devote themselves to saving some precious portion of the land they loved, and in doing so remind their fellow citizens of the full meaning of democracy.”

Muir (1838-1914) is credited with preserving, among other sites, the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite.

Every summer since 1983, Lee Stetson has been telling Muir’s story at Yosemite.

This month, he will tell that story in Maine.

And therein lies another story.

Sharon Broom, development officer for Friends of Acadia, was searching for some type of program-fundraiser “to do in the quieter season,” and was online searching for John Muir, who founded the Sierra Club, when she discovered Lee Stetson’s website, www.johnmuirlive.com.

So, Sharon told me, she e-mailed Lee and asked him whether there was any chance he was going to be on the East Coast in the foreseeable future.

“He said, “My wife and I are considering coming to a Peace Corps reunion Sept. 24, in Bar Harbor.’”

After further discussions with Lee, Friends of Acadia and The Grand, this unique opportunity presented itself.

I also visited Lee’s website and when I saw his telephone number included, took a chance and called him. What a delightful conversation that turned out to be, and what a pleasant discovery I made.

Although Lee considers Quincy, Mass., his hometown, he told me he was born in Lewiston and lived in Auburn until he was 9.

It was a “nice congruence of personal business” and the Friends of Acadia request that is bringing him home to Maine, he said.

He will arrive in New England early to visit relatives in Massachusetts and then travel to Maine to attend the 45th anniversary of the Peace Corps group with whom he went to Thailand in the 1960s.

“I’ve never been to Acadia National Park,” Lee said. “I’m really looking forward to that.”

Lee Stetson has an extensive artistic and theatrical resume ranging from stage to television and performing arts companies.

While portraying Muir “truly has become my profession,” he said, he also has been writing “different productions for national park audiences.”

Most recently, he told me, he was elected a county supervisor for the county of Mariposa, which includes Yosemite.

Lee Stetson will assume his new duties in January.

I wish him well in his new endeavor, and welcome him home.

Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; javerill@bangordailynews.com; 990-8288.

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