Originally published in Castine Patriot, May 22, 2014
Penobscot community sings its farewell to Skip Bean
Skip Bean performs at his last Coffee House and Music Buffet held at the Penobscot Community School in Penobscot, Maine on May 17, 2014.
by Anne Berleant
How long does it take to grow roots in a community? For Skip Bean, who moved here 10 years ago and built a house—and a life—in Penobscot with his wife Jill, those roots grew fast and deep.
Bean has worked at Penobscot Community School for a decade, keeping its halls and classrooms shining as only a perfectionist—in the words of Principal Allen Cole—can.
“Monday is going to be a different kind of day at Penobscot Community School,” Cole said.
Bean’s last day was May 16, one day before the school community, and musicians from Stonington to Bucksport, all regulars at a monthly coffee house Bean began four years ago, gathered to say goodbye.
First came a potluck supper organized by the PTF, and a video of students singing “Happy Trails.” Then, a slate of local musicians and bands performed in a corner in the gym, forgoing the auditorium stage for a more intimate, coffeehouse-style setting.
Bean started the monthly Penobscot Coffee House and Music Buffet for selfish reasons, he said.
“I signed on…so I would have a chance to play a few songs once a month,” he said, with “no intentions of being philanthropic.” Then, “the crazy thing took off.”
After four years of guiding, organizing and hosting the coffee house, which features one hour of open mike and one hour of a local, featured performer, Bean said, “I appreciate the power of music more than ever.”
“It’s opened my heart quite a bit.”
As Bean answers a few questions in a quiet classroom, teachers, former students and parents interrupt to give hugs and goodbyes.
Bean and his wife Jill will return to Idaho, the place they left 10 years earlier, in early June.
“[Skip] has been inspirational to the community and the music buffet,” said Mike Fay, who will preside over the coffee house with Lin Parker in Skip’s absence.
“It’s a long way to Idaho,” Parker said.
But the “heart and the music” Bean and wife Jill have given, said Fay, will remain.