Traverse City Record-Eagle


April 7, 2013

Jim Bob Stephenson, Ph.D.

INTERLOCHEN — Jim Bob Stephenson, Ph.D., died peacefully on March 26, 2013. Jim Bob was born on July 18, 1921, to Orlando Worth and Evelyn (Baird) Stephenson in Ann Arbor.

Growing up in Ann Arbor, Jim Bob was fortunate to find his passions early in life. He met his wife of nearly 66 years, Lucy Chase (Wright), at her sixth birthday party. They were married in Ann Arbor on Aug. 18, 1945. Lucy Chase preceded him in death in 2011.

At 11 years old he found his professional calling when he was cast in an Ann Arbor Children’s Theater production. That was followed by innumerable productions, including professional radio and TV acting on WWJ Detroit.

At the University of Michigan he received his BA and MA, followed by his Ph.D. in speech/theater in 1958.

Jim Bob was instructor of theater at U of M for 10 years, associate professor of theater at Kansas State University for three years, visiting professor at Southern Illinois University for two years, and professor of theater at Kent State University for 23 years. During the summer he was on the faculty of the National Music Camp at Interlochen for 11 years, and on the staff working with his brother, Clarence (Dude) Stephenson, producing the high school operettas and intermediate musicals and revues for over 20 years. At 90 years old he taught a seminar on Shakespeare for the Commission on Aging. Over the course of his career, Jim Bob directed over 200 stage productions and performed in over 150.

Jim Bob and Lucy Chase collaborated on many theatrical projects. They developed the Play Package Company at KSU in Kent, performing at elementary schools all over northeast Ohio for 17 years. Together they authored 18 children’s plays and one adult play, all of which were produced. They were two of the founders of the Traverse City Children’s Theater and directed three plays for Pathfinder School. It was always most important to them that all children feel loved, respected and worthwhile as unique, valuable people.

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