Larry Stettner

SOUTHWEST HARBORLarry Stettner (1938-2017) passed away after suffering a heart attack on Monday, May 1. Larry was a beloved father and grandfather, devoted spouse, community leader and dedicated educator.

A native of Southwest Harbor for two decades, Larry was an active community leader, first getting involved in organizing the MDI Croquet Club, establishing a live music scene in town that through this winter included heartfelt renditions of some of his favorite Cole Porter tunes. Larry was the life breath behind the Common Good Soup Kitchen and Cafe. The Common Good Soup Kitchen and Cafe revolutionized the soup kitchen model by providing free nutritious food, community and live music to Island families regardless of financial needs during the winter, and operating a “pay-what-you-want” Popover Cafe in the summer to fund winter operations. Larry is the co-author, with his friend and co-founder Bill Morrison, of “Cooking for the Common Good (North Atlantic Books, 2010), describing their successful efforts. In recognition of the Common Good, Larry was awarded with the Cabot Dairy Celebrity Cruise in 2011 and was named Citizen of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce.

Before moving to Southwest Harbor, Larry worked for 30 years as a professor of psychology at Wayne State University with a long record of research in experimental psychology covering such topics as human ethology, emotions and human sexuality. A cover story in a 1968 Scientific American issue on the “Brain of the Bird” was reprinted widely. Apropos of Larry’s optimistic personality, he achieved widespread media attention in 1982 for his research with Paul Ekman that calculated that people could make 1.8 million different types of smiles. Larry was a decorated teacher and mentor, receiving Wayne State’s President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1987. Many of those students went on to successful careers as clinicians, researchers, program directors and even dog therapists and became lifelong friends. Larry brought people together in a local softball league, as a president of his local AAUP chapter and a founder of the Creative Community, a support group that brought together artists and psychologists in the hippie enclave known then as the Cass Corridor.

In Maine, He was well known for renaming his home the House of Mirth, opening it to frequent parties, houseguests and roommates in a need of a place to stay, all while caring for his beloved Fran as she suffered from Alzheimer’s. These festivities featured his competition level croquet court, where he taught numerous people the love of the game including mentoring the nation’s number one croquet player, Ben Rothman.

Despite Fran’s declining health, Larry never lost his laugh, his enthusiasm or his ability to pull off a caper. Larry loved every aspect of life on MDI from walking dogs on the blueberry field off Long Pond Road or enjoying a clam bake at the Algerian Coast.

Larry was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., to David and Helen Stettner and grew up in a large community of aunts, uncles and cousins, spending summers in his beloved Rockaways. He is survived by his four children, Marc, Janet, Peggy and Andy, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, and numerous cousins. The family is grateful for everyone in Southwest Harbor for their support since his passing, and the passing of Fran in February, and is committed to helping the community carry on the work of the Common Good. In lieu of flowers, we ask families to send donations to the Common Good Soup Kitchen at P.O. Box 265, Southwest Harbor.

A memorial service and celebration of life will be held on Saturday, May 27, at 1:30 p.m. at Camp Beech Cliff, 264 Beech Hill Road in Mount Desert. All are welcome.

Arrangements by Jordan-Fernald, 1139 Main St., Mount Desert. Condolences may be expressed at

Know when to pay your respects.