William S. Stetson Sr.

Dec 7, 1918 - Mar 12, 2017

William's Story

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Brewer AND Hancock - William Strickland Stetson, 98, died at his home on March 12, 2017. He has gone to be with his beloved Mary Ellen, wife of 62 years. He was born on December 7, 1918, the son of Irving Gay and Eleanor (Strickland) Stetson.
Bill graduated from Bangor High School in 1936. He played trumpet in the band and orchestra, and was a runner on the track team. He was also a weight-lifter as a young man, and throughout his life was very conscientious about staying physically fit. Bill continued his studies at Manlius Military Academy, which he attended on a partial music scholarship. He also attended Gilman Commercial School and the University of Maine. Bill served with the Army Signal Corps in Europe during the Second World War. After working in a variety of accounting jobs, including several years at the Bangor State Hospital, Bill joined the Maine Department of Audit in 1961. Until his retirement in 1979, he traveled widely throughout northeastern Maine auditing the finances of scores of small towns and cities, as well as county courts. He greatly enjoyed working with the many local officials that he met in his job, who appreciated his helpfulness and respected his honesty. His auditing work provided him with many wonderful stories. Bill's true calling was playing music. He began with piano, then moved to trumpet. In addition to school groups, he was soon playing in dance bands. He played many instruments, including saxophone and valve trombone. In 1950, he formed Bill Stetson's Orchestra, which played at dance halls, parties and high school proms in the Bangor area and well beyond. For a few years, the group had a steady gig Friday and Saturday nights at the American Legion Hall in Bangor. They also played several summers at "The Hangar" located at the Bar Harbor Airport. Busy on the road with his auditing job, Bill disbanded the group in 1962 but continued to play with other dance bands to the end of that decade. Moreover, he played about four decades with the Bangor Band, many years with the Ellsworth Band, and later with the Brewer Hometown Band and the Sebasticook Valley Band in Newport. In the 1970s and 1980s, he played for Sunday services at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Brewer. Around 1990, Bill formed the Penobscot Wind Ensemble. For the next two decades this group provided free concerts at retirement and nursing homes, social clubs and civic organizations, and Bangor's annual Flag Day celebration. Even after Bill's health kept him from playing in concerts, loyal members of his group continued to come to the house every couple of weeks to play music with him. Bill was very grateful for all the friends he made through music over the years. Summers at Hancock Point were also important to Bill. From a very early age, he spent part of each summer there with his family, enjoying being on the water in rowboats, sailboats, or small power boats. Throughout their life together, and especially in retirement, he and Mary Ellen had happy times at Hancock.
Bill was a devoted family man, who will be greatly missed, by his son, William Strickland Stetson Jr. and his wife, Lida, of Burke, Virginia; daughters, Ann Stetson of Brewer and Linda Goff of Bangor; granddaughter, Julie Anne Page of Searsport; grandson, Eric Wolker Stetson of Independence, Virginia; and many dear nieces, nephews and friends. In addition to his wife, Mary Ellen, he was predeceased by two sons, Peter and James; a sister, Charlotte Stetson; two brothers, Robert Stetson and Frederic Stetson; a special brother-in-law, Walter McHale; and a son-in-law, Merle F. Goff.
At Bill's request, there will be a family graveside service. Contributions in his memorymaybe made to St. Joseph Hospice, P.O. Box 403, Bangor, ME 04402. Arrangements by Kiley & Foley Funeral Service, 299 Union St., Bangor. Messages and memories may be shared with his family at kileyandfoley.com.
Published on  March 14, 2017
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