The Common Good: On Losing Larry Stettner

Posted by – May 15, 2017
Categories: Excerpt Health & Healing

We’ve just received news that Larry Stettner, author of Cooking for the Common Good, passed away earlier this month. Larry Stettner grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and received his PhD in psychology from Stanford University in 1963. After retiring to Maine he co-founded the Common Good Soup Kitchen, which led to writing his inspirational story of how the Common Good Soup Kitchen went from a bright idea to a community keystone. Larry accomplished a great deal, and he will truly be missed.

Larry’s family has graciously allowed us to share his obituary with the NAB community.

His legacy

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, which 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 (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 thirty years as a Professor of Psychology at Wayne State University with a long record of research in experimental psychology, covering topics such 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 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.

Read more about Larry, his legacy, and the Common Good Soup Kitchen here

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About the Author

Before officially joining NAB, Katie earned her BA in English at Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo. There, she learned that working with books was an actual career! After her first year at school, she worked for two small publishing houses as an editorial intern. Returning from a four-month adventure in Spain, she began working for the Graduate Education Office as a thesis editor. She then stumbled upon a marketing and publicity internship with (drumroll please) North Atlantic Books—and loves that she’s back! Katie spent her last year of school publishing a literary facsimile and contemplating life’s greatest questions. As a former fitness instructor and current avid reader, Katie is thrilled to work with a wide range of books that matches her range of hobbies!