Walter Stump, a distinguished author, playwright and retired theater professor at the University of Southern Maine who had a tremendous impact on his students’ lives, died Dec. 4 after a brief illness. He was 83.

Mr. Stump was remembered by family and friends Thursday as a kind, immensely creative and down-to-earth guy who lived life to the fullest.

He was an associate professor of theater at USM from 1968 to 1976, serving one year as department chair. Mr. Stump became a full professor in 1976, and served another stint as department chair from 1983 to 1988. He retired in 2010.

He directed more than 120 plays during his career and coached numerous national champions in reader’s theater.

According to his obituary, published in Friday’s Portland Press Herald, Mr. Stump’s most critically acclaimed directorial effort was his final USM production of the play “Equus.”

His daughter, Kimberly Dionne of Gorham, shared stories Thursday about her father’s experiences traveling with students for theater competitions.

“He really loved the camaraderie and the connections he had with students,” Dionne said. “He was so passionate about the work he did in theater and loved sharing that with people.”

A Facebook post about Mr. Stump’s passing generated more than 341 comments from friends and former students. Many turned to Facebook this week to share stories and pictures of a man they said had an impact on their lives.

One post referred to Mr. Stump as a “quintessential supporter and coach.” Another post said he was a “legend at USM.”

John Coons, a former student, wrote: “Dr. Stump believed in me and encouraged me as an actor, a playwright and a person. He also gave me greater artistic opportunity and responsibility than I had ever experienced before. He truly believed in seeking out and reveling in the mysteries of life, and he will be deeply missed.”

Mr. Stump authored numerous books, including: “Imitation: The Art of the Theater,” “Trail of the Mountain God,” “The Mojave Chronicles,” “Desert Oases” and “Anasazi.”

Geoffrey Stump of Aspen, Colorado, the youngest of his three children, said his father loved writing and left him with several volumes of his unpublished works. He said he learned a lot from his father, most importantly to slow down and appreciate the little things in life.

“And he did that,” his son said. “He was a great man, a real man, and we will miss him.”

Another highlight of Mr. Stump’s life was supporting his children through their athletic and professional pursuits. All three of his children became national skiing champions.

Mr. Stump’s other son, Gregory Stump of Prineville, Oregon, is a champion skier and accomplished ski filmmaker.

Dionne reflected on the sacrifices her parents made so they could all ski. “They sacrificed so much, but they wouldn’t have it any other way,” she said. “He would stand out in the freezing cold and hold scorecards. It was pretty amazing.”

Dionne also reminisced about the years that she and her brothers would pile into the car and drive across the country to California to visit family.

“He was the best tour guide in the world,” his daughter said. “He would stop at every sight for us to see. … I think he wanted the best for us. He had such a love for travel. To this day, I have probably traveled more than anyone I know because of him.”

Mr. Stump was a loving partner to Marquita Hallawell for 28 years. The couple lived in Penn Valley, California. While there, he stayed in touch with students and family through Facebook.

“He texted me every day that he loved me,” Dionne said. “From the time we were really little till now, he never stopped being our dad.”

Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

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