Remembering Jim Bob Stephenson

Jim Bob Stephenson, Ph.D. (IAC Fac 55-66, IAC St 87-05) was deeply involved in theatre throughout his life and a fixture at Interlochen Arts Camp for decades. Stephenson joined the Camp theatre faculty in the 50s and later returned to assist his brother Clarence (Dude) Stephenson, producing the high school operettas and intermediate musicals and revue.

Cast in his first play, an Ann Arbor Children’s Theater production, when he was just 11 years old, theatre was a lifelong passion for Stephenson.  He went on to perform in productions including professional radio and television acting on WWJ Detroit. He was an instructor of theatre at the University of Michigan for ten years, associate professor of theatre at Kansas State University for three years, visiting professor at Southern Illinois University for two years, and professor of theatre at Kent State University for 23 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 Stephenson was the kind of man and educator that I would hope all of us aspire to be whether we teach at Camp or Academy," said David Montee, who worked in the theatre program alongside Stephenson for many years. "Besides being knowledgeable and talented in his art, he was gentle, funny, generous, enthusiastic, and completely devoted to the principles that he believed that Joe Maddy embraced … Jim Bob's integrity and his unselfish and often unsung commitment to his work helped build Interlochen's summer theatre program steadily through the decades."